The World Cup squad, with very little surprises, was announced on Tuesday by chief selector Ajit Agarkar with captain Rohit Sharma by his side.
K.L. Rahul, who hasn’t played a competitive game since May, has been included in India’s squad, thus resulting in Sanju Samson’s omission. “K.L. is looking good. We feel this gives us the best balance to try and do well. K.L. was part of the camp in Bangalore, and he looked really good there. He has got over his niggle,” Agarkar said after announcing the squad of 15 that will carry the burden of expectations of 1.4 billion Indians.
“He played a couple of games over the last two days. I think, he kept for 50 overs and batted for around 50 overs too, so he looks good, and we’re happy to have him.”
While Rahul, who arrived in Colombo on Tuesday after clearing a fitness test in Bengaluru, and Ishan Kishan have been included as the two wicketkeeper-batters, the selectors have persisted with the core group of the Asia Cup squad members. The three members who have travelled but not found a place in the World Cup squad—Prasidh Krishna, Tilak Varma, and Samson—will be standbys, according to Agarkar.
India’s squad was announced minutes before the contingent departed for Colombo. While Tuesday was the last day to submit the squad to the International Cricket Council, it can be altered by September 28 without giving any reason. It gives the selectors and the team management ample time to assess the match-fitness of Rahul, Shreyas Iyer, and Jasprit Bumrah.
With Axar Patel being preferred as the third spinner, there was no room for an offspinner. As a result, both R. Ashwin, the veteran craftsman who was a part of the triumphant campaign in 2011, and Washington Sundar, the all-rounder, will feel hard done by.
“Clearly there will be discussions given we have both Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel who spin the ball into left-handers. Both give us depth in batting,” Agarkar said.
“Kuldeep takes the ball away. In 50-over cricket, perhaps you would ideally want an offspinner, but this gives us the best balance. Seamers tend to bowl a lot more in ODIs as compared to T20 cricket, and perhaps you are a little more under pressure if you don’t have an offie, so we are happy with the guys we have.”
Rohit was satisfied with the final squad, which he claimed was in sync with the team management’s vision after the last year’s T20 World Cup semifinal exit.
“We are happy. This is the best we can do with balance and depth. We have three all-rounders in the team, four bowlers, and six batters,” Rohit said. “We have thought about it a lot and named this squad. This is the best combination for us.”
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