The Indian selectors opted to go with the experienced Dinesh Karthik ahead of Rishabh Pant as a back-up wicketkeeper in the 15-member squad for the cricket World Cup announced on Monday.
The other notable talking points were the exclusion of Ambati Rayudu while Ravindra Jadeja and Vijay Shankar both made the cut in the Virat Kohli-led side for the 2019 Cricket World Cup starting on May 30.
The biggest debate leading up to the squad announcement was the choice of the second wicketkeeper and the selectors went with Karthik, despite his poor recent form with the bat in the Indian Premier League.
“Definitely a case where we debated in length,” chief selector MSK Prasad said in Mumbai. “We [selectors] all were in unison that either Pant or DK will come in only when Mahi is injured. In an important game wicket keeping is also important. Karthik will only play in case of an injury to Dhoni. In a crunch game, he is the best man to handle the pressure, we felt. There is no doubt that Pant is talented and it’s unfortunate that he has to miss out.”
Pant, who has been in better form in the Indian Premier League scoring 245 runs (compared to a mere 111 by Karthik), was considered a favourite on paper as his inclusion comes with certain advantages. The fact he would have been the only other left-hander in the batting lineup apart from Shikhar Dhawan was seen as a clincher too, but the selectors opted for the tried and tested Karthik, who was also part of the Champions Trophy squad in 2017.
The selectors also opted for the three-dimesionality of Shankar over Rayudu’s specialised middle order batting skills as they went with the all-rounder in the squad. Shankar could be expected to slot in at No 4 in the batting order according to Prasad. KL Rahul, with his good recent form in the IPL, was expected to get the nod anyway but the selectors hinted at a middle order role for him.
“To begin with, he will only be a reserve opener, but if the team management needs, he can bat in the middle order too,” said the chief national selector and former Indian wicketkeeper.
The last date for announcing the World Cup squads is 23 April but BCCI had decided to make the announcement eight days prior to the deadline day. It is worth noting that the squads are still provisional and changes can be made up until 23 May.
The World Cup will be starting on May 30 in United Kingdom, a few days after conclusion of IPL on May 12. India’s first game is on June 5 against South Africa. India will play warm-up matches against New Zealand (25 May at The Oval) and Bangladesh (28 May in Cardiff) ahead of the tournament.
India captain Kohli had earlier made it clear that the Indian Premier League form will have no bearing on the final squad that is being selected for the World Cup.
“I don’t see the IPL having any influence on World Cup selection. I think that will be very, very radical sort of analysis,” Kohli had said before the start of the Australia ODI series. “We need to have a solid team. Before we head into the IPL, we need to be absolutely clear of what team we want for the World Cup. I don’t see anything changing on how the IPL goes for any of the players.”
India’s squad for the World Cup 2019:
Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MSD (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami
The survey put out by The Field saw the most popular squad have just one difference — Pant ahead of Karthik. Here are the final results.
The Field’s survey results:
|Players||% of votes|