Cricket

Predicted: What will India’s World Cup 2023 squad be if everyone is fit and available?

Less than two months to go until the ODI World Cup, – here is India’s predicted squad for the competition.

Some players are picking themselves, but there are still question marks over the availability and fitness of several. We assumed that India will have a bunch of cricketers to choose from and built our predicted squad accordingly.

Openers

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan (week)

Skipper Rohit is a surefire starter, despite his recent comments proclaiming that no one is safe. His opening partner was also confirmed after the Indian team made its preference clear by picking Gill in ODIs this year over veteran Shikhar Dhawan. Dhawan, a beast of the ICC events, has struggled with his timing and strike rate, reaching 74.21 in 2022, even as Gill finally emerged from the shadows. Gill’s stellar start to 2023 has all but confirmed Dhawan’s exit and despite a recent lean patch, he should be the second opener in the first match.

Kishan has come up the order after three consecutive fifties in the West Indies where the wickets were on the slower side. He got his pace to perfection and batted maturely according to the situation, and he will not only be the reserve champion but also a reserve goalkeeper in the team.

Middle class

Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (week)

Simply suggesting not to pick Kohli would be blasphemy, so let’s not even go there. Even as he continues his return to form, Indian fans will be desperately praying to the various Gods who believe that Iyer and Rahul can regain full fitness and also make spectacular comebacks. Both injured, Iyer and Rahul are the core of the middle order, without whom the batting will struggle, with unproven replacements.

Not only can Iyer take on the spinners in the middle overs, but he can also rely on a top-order collapse, a sight Indian fans are no strangers to at crunch times. Rahul at No.5 was a revelation, averaging 53 in 18 games at the position, with one hundred and seven fifty.

If the two fail to find fitness, Sanju Samson and Suryakumar Yadav are expected to replace them, options that do not give the fans a sense of security. The highly talented Samson often struggles with shot selection and temperament, while Yadav recently admitted that his ODI numbers are “very poor”.

All-rounders

Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Shardul Thakur, Axar Patel

Although Axar and Jadeja are similar bowlers and turn the ball into batter, the former has played more recently and could have the edge over R Ashwin. Ashwin last played in an ODI in January 2022, and barring a repeat of the 2021 T20 World Cup, when the off-spinner returns after four years for the event, Axar will be selected as Jadeja’s back-up. He has also improved his batting in recent years, even playing as a specialist No.7 in the second T20I against the West Indies recently.

Hardik answers a number of questions for India regarding the balance of the team. He is likely joined by Thakur as the second all-rounder, having developed a habit of picking up wickets in the middle overs, breaking important partnerships when least expected. His batting is also a bonus.

Threads

Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal

The two choose themselves, with no other frontline in sight. Kuldeep has been in great form since his comeback, which saw him return with a few changes to his bowling. He has averaged 20.91 in the format since the start of 2022 and should start over Chahal in the line-up.

Jadeja and Axar are the other spinners in the team.

Fast bowlers

Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami

Again, no surprises here. In an ideal world, India would like to play all three quickly, but would drastically reduce their batting depth, which would then end up at No. 7. With Hardik also bowling regularly, the chances of them playing and the three quicks together, unless on wickets that have plenty of bounce, like in Calcutta or Dharamsala, they are few and far between.

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