India have recalled fit-again KL Rahul for the Cricket World Cup later this year, but left out off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin as the hosts named their 15-man squad.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rahul has not played competitively since May after suffering a thigh injury but is due to join the team in Sri Lanka for the Super Four stage of the continuing Asia Cup.
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Ishan Kishan, who has smashed a 50 in his last four one-day internationals, leads the race for the wicketkeeper’s spot partly because of the left-handed variety he brings.
“It’s a good headache to have, isn’t it?” chief selector Ajit Agarkar told reporters after announcing the squad in Sri Lanka on Tuesday.
“Ishan played a lovely innings [in the Asia Cup], can open the innings … KL’s one-day record is fantastic.
“So when he comes, there will be conversations but you at least have two options now.”
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 5, 2023
Captain Sharma did not rule out the possibility of Rahul and Ishan – who have both topped the batting order – playing together.
“As long as everyone’s available and fit to play, the selection depends on the opposition we play, current form, players who have done well under pressure, those things do matter,” he said.
Jasprit Bumrah, who missed out on India’s last group game against Nepal on Monday to be at home for the birth of his first child, will lead India’s pace attack with Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami and Shardul Thakur.
“We had a couple of fitness issues that we had to look at, but all three [Rahul, Bumrah and Shreyas Iyer] who had long-term injuries have come through,” Agakrar said.
The selectors preferred Suryakumar Yadav, a T20 specialist middle-order power-hitter, while leaving out Tilak Varma and Sanju Samson from the World Cup squad. Fast bowler Prasidh Krishna, who is currently in the Asia Cup squad, also missed out on the World Cup squad.
Hosts look for batting depth
Kuldeep Yadav is the lone front-line wrist-spinner in the Rohit Sharma-led squad, which contains spin all-rounders Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel. Ashwin, who remains India’s preferred spinner in Test cricket, was not accommodated.
“Both give us depth in batting,” Agarkar said of Jadeja and Patel.
“In 50 overs cricket, perhaps you would ideally want an off-spinner, but this gives us the best balance.”
Sharma was happy with the depth in his squad but demanded more contribution from India’s tailenders.
“We found this lacking in our team for the last few years, so we wanted to make sure that we get that batting depth somehow.”
“It’s not just to come out and bowl out the opposition but it’s also to contribute with the bat, and it can make a huge difference. We will have to see who is in form and who is the opposition to face. All this will be calculated and the best XI will be picked.”
Twice champions India, who lost in the semifinals in 2019, begin their World Cup campaign with an October 8 contest against Australia in Chennai. They have suffered a world title drought since the 2013 Champions Trophy.
India squad: Rohit Sharma (capt), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan (wk), KL Rahul (wk), Hardik Pandya (vice captain), Suryakumar Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav.