Dinesh Karthik non-selection adds to India's World Cup squad puzzle

Dinesh Karthik has been dropped from India's ODI squad for the five-match home series against Australia.

Dinesh Karthik has been surprisingly dropped from the squad, with K. L. Rahul taking his spot.   -  Getty Images

Will Dinesh Karthik be able to board the flight to England for the World Cup? There is still not enough clarity on that as the MSK Prasad-led national selection committee, on Friday, left out the Tamil Nadu batsman-wicketkeeper from the squad for the ODI series against Australia.

With it being India's last ODI assignment before the the World Cup begins on May 30, the ODI squad was expected to be a mirror image of the team which will participate in the tournament.

And that’s where Karthik was being considered as the second wicketkeeper-batsman--M. S. Dhoni being the first. Though the selectors have picked him for the preceding T20 series, they left Karthik out of the ODIs, going for a much younger Rishabh Pant. The Delhi cricketer is considered to be the future of Indian cricket and heir apparent to Mahendra Singh Dhoni behind the stumps.

The selectors did not justify the reason behind not picking Karthik and insisted that it was a way of checking out the bench strength. Karthik drew the ire of fans and experts for refusing a single with India chasing 213 in the final Twenty20 International and with a rampaging Krunal Pandya at the other end. He later clarified by saying that he was confident of hitting a six which didn’t happen as India lost by four runs.

Though Pant is yet to make a mark in the ODIs, his big-hitting prowess has made him a potential match-winner in big-ticket events.

To add to Karthik’s woes, the selectors also picked K. L. Rahul, who returned to the national side on the back of his 89 and 81 for India A against England Lions. Rahul, however, is being considered as a back-up batsman.

If Karthik remains a puzzle, the selectors also sprang in a surprise, leaving out young Rajasthan pacer Khaleel Ahmed. Khaleel was being considered one of India’s best bets, but the five wise men brought in Punjab seamer Siddharth Kaul for the first two ODIs.

“Khaleel has been playing for the last two series and we have seen him and Siddarth Kaul is doing well and is now a part of the mix,” Prasad said. Khaleel didn't have a good series in New Zealand and Australia prior, going wicketless in the two ODIs he played.

The committee also rested Kuldeep Yadav from the T20s and brought in Mayank Markande. What was the idea behind naming the rookie spinner?

“...as a back-up spinner we are looking at him (Markande). So we have been grooming him through the India A process and he has taken a five-wicket haul (against England Lions on Friday),” Prasad said.

Though they left out Karthik and Khaleel from the squads, the chairman of selectors insisted that the major part of the side is already short-listed, now its all about the ‘here and there’s.’ With barely three left months left for the World Cup, India will announce the probables by the third week of March. By then, it needs to be seen whether Karthik gets lucky.