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All cricketing eyes are now on the World Cup and the nerves are starting to fray. Over the course of the next several weeks, many questions will be answered by the teams and their players. One of those big questions is the composition of the Indian squad. This is the team that plays the most cricket and for whom the most data are available. Over the last year or two, many questions have been raised about age, floor, ceiling, all-round skills, ability to hold fort at #4, finishing ability, team balance, wicket-keeping, wrist vs finger spin, suitability for ODI vs T20 format, and of course, recent form. We've had everybody and their uncle chime in on why they are best suited for #4 (from Rayudu to Pujara to Rahane) or for #4 seamer slot (Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav), spinner (Ashwin). Now that all possible data are in, let's line-up the suspects and see who does not belong. I hope that every one of these guys makes me eat crow with stellar performances and bring the WC back to India, but for now, let's vote. After you vote, reply to the thread with your reasoning and who should be the replacement. In no particular order: (1) Vijay Shankar: Most recent entrant to the all-rounder and #4 sweepstakes, VS has been impressive in flashes. Some days, he looks like a million bucks with bat and on others, like a cat on a hot tin roof. Seems technically compact enough, has a little bit of power and most times, a calm head (but Nidahas ...?). He is a decent fielder, too. Now, his bowling - is it really worth discussing? Not too many opportunities to showcase it and there is no argument to be made for English conditions, because the pitches are roads and the weather will be hot and trundlers are fodder. Current form looks spotty. This selection is very interesting. (2) Dinesh Karthik: 15 years of DK. 1 big moment. In a T20 match. Against Bangladesh. The man has a lot of skills, but somehow they have not come together consistently. Should he get another chance in a big tourney like this? (3) Ravindra Jadeja: I am admittedly a huge fan of Sir, mainly because of how electric he is on the field and his ever-high effort levels. If we had to pick a specialist fielder, he is the guy. Or a test bowler. But bowling 10 overs of finger spin on flat English pitches is suspect and he is not really a finisher with a bat. What is his role? (4) K L Rahul: I have been watching cricket for 40 years and can't remember anyone as enigmatic as KLR. A prodigal son. He was oft-injured early in his career and thus never established himself, and when he got a chance in 2018-19, has not impressed consistently. But, on his day, he can be completely dominant and make batting look like a cakewalk. And he had some of those days in the IPL. But those days are few and far between, and often his technical weaknesses against the incoming ball rear their ugly head before he settles.. Moreover, what is his role in an LOI context? Is he an opener? A #4? (5) Kedar Jadhav: Again, I am a huge fan of this guy, because he is one of the grittiest over-achievers. He was selected because of his domination of domestic cricket and made a big impact early on. His batting, while not pretty, is great to watch. He works the field, keeps things moving and can hit when needed. And not to forget his horizontal off-spin. But a few things work against him: he often disappears on the batting front; he is at-best a mediocre fielder; he is often injured. If he recovers from his most recent injury, how much longer before the next one? (6) M S Dhoni: Now, for some controversy. This man is an undisputed legend of the ODI game. The best keeper to ever don the gloves in ODIs. One of the most astute ODI minds. And on an on we can go. Also add IPL 2019 superstar. But, is his IPL form deceptive? Can he keep it up against the best attacks in the world? Will his body hold up in a 50-over setting over several weeks? Should we have picked a younger 'keeper instead? (7) Rohit Sharma: Another legend of the ODI game. But his recent form has been K L Rahul-esque. He is a good catcher, but his overall fitness seems suspect. He takes a long time to settle in and if he gets out like he has recently after facing 40-50 balls, it puts pressure on the guys coming later. Should we have picked a more in-form young bat instead? (8) Yuz Chahal: Wristspinners are all the rage these days and his recent form (yeah, it's the IPL, but still ..) has been decent. But he is a liability on the field and can't bat too well. Would we have been better off picking a younger wristie like Gopal or is Yuz's experience too valuable? (9) Other: Kuldeep? Bhuvneshwar? Other?
I know he's only played against Sri Lanka and Bangladesh (however playing spin bowling is their strength) in his limited career so far, but have been very impressed by his temperament, his ability to anticipate what the batsmen is trying to do and his skill to execute the intended delivery. Heard his batting is good too, if so, he could become our wild card pick come 2019 World Cup. I know Chahal and Kuldeep are our attacking options overseas but I feel on rain affected games, they can be a huge liability as control for leg spinners with a wet ball can be a major issue. With Sundar's simple and repeatable action, I reckon he can even maintain his skill during rain affected games as he did the other night with dew on the ball (when Chahal was struggling). Jadeja's bowling I feel is ineffective in ODIs and Ashwin's fielding is a liability. Either way, the more competition for spots the better.