It has been almost four years since the night Team India lifted its second World Cup, at Wankhede in Mumbai. It’s time to defend their title, and only West Indies and Australia have defended their titles so far. To be held in Australia and New Zealand, India’s campaign begins on February 14th against arch-rivals Pakistan.
SQUAD: MS Dhoni, Kohli, Raina, Dhawan, Rahane, Rohit, Rayadu, Jadeja, Ashwin, Akshar, Ishant, Shami, Yadav, Binny, Bhuvi.
There are a few surprises (and omissions) in this ODI 15-member squad selected by Patil and co.
– Binny has been selected as the seaming all-rounder. We all know Dhoni craves for all-rounders, and with Binny now having the best-ever ODI figures for an Indian bowler (against Bangladesh), and little else to show, he has been selected to fill the one vacant spot instead of bowler Mohit Sharma – who got a Ranji hat-trick just hours before the squad was selected. This is a risky pick, but with Jadeja still doubtful because of his injury, Binny could be a direct replacement in the playing XI for a few matches.
– As expected, Yuvraj Singh wasn’t considered despite his scintillating Ranji form. This is a sad end to an international career for perhaps India’s most valuable limited overs player ever.
– Rayadu’s century against Sri Lanka ensured that he got the call-up as middle-order bat and extra keeper ahead of the unfortunate Uthappa, who has done everything including play well on the India A tour, but has missed out.
– Three spinners in Ashwin, Jadeja and Akshar have been picked. However, only one out of Jadeja and Akshar will play in the team. They are similar left-arm spinners, and equally skillful with the bat. Akshar has proved his worth recently in domestic and IPL cricket.
– Dhoni, Kohli, Raina and Ashwin are the only four 2011 World Cup winners retained in 2015.
– Ishant Sharma being selected comes as a surprise, considering he is India’s weakest ODI bowler. He bowls length balls in the slog overs, but has been picked on basis of his experience down under. When he was rested in the last test at Sydney, indications were that the management wanted to save him for the tri-series and World Cup.
– Fitting Rahane or Rohit in the middle order will be a challenge.
– India’s bowling attack lacks experience and a top wily fast bowler, like they had Zaheer Khan in the 2011 edition.
– Murali Vijay has been ignored, and rightly so, considering his ODI average (19).
However, all is not over for hopefuls like Yuvraj, Mohit and Uthappa.
With plenty of cricket left for India before the Cup begins (Tri-series with Australia and England), there are high chances of injuries or loss of form. Jadeja’s near future will be decided on basis of the tournament, and he could just leave open an all-rounder spot. The romantics would love Yuvraj to fill it, eventually.