The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.
- Albert Einstein
The wait is over as the five wise men of Indian cricket led by MSK Prasad on Monday gave a shape to the team which will take part in the World Cup – a marquee event in England starting from May 30. The formation of 15-member team say that the discussion on combination took precedence over any out-of-the-box name. Young Rishabh Pant’s competition for the second keeper’s slot with veteran Dinesh Karthik was definitely the highlight of the discussion. Ace batsman Virat Kohli-led squad does not have major surprises except omission of Pant for Karthik for second wicket-keeper’s place and batsman Ambati Rayudu for rookie Vijay Shankar for number four slot. Sure, Pant has been under fire for wasting opportunities, throwing his wicket away, not staying till the end and so on. Shankar goes to the showpiece event as the number four batsman and Ravindra Jadeja has been picked as the third spinner ahead of a fourth pacer. KL Rahul joins in as the back-up opener. The current Indian team management and selectors have often spoken about continuity and that is exactly what they have done with regards to the team for the World Cup, so the selection of rest of the team is on the expected line.
However, the inclusion of veteran Karthik as the second wicketkeeper at the expense of explosive talent Pant is no doubt a debatable decision which could play an important role in the days ahead. Karthik has been deemed a better wicketkeeper by the selectors and he has been selected on the basis of experience. But being a southpaw Pant’s selection would have brought a variety in team as a left hander be can bat in middle order, he can bat lower down; and he can go on a rampage in the death overs. If experience worked in favour of Karthik, but same experience did not do any favour for Rayudu. It is also true that of late his form has not been up to the mark. Surprise pick for number 4 spot Shankar, who got the nod ahead of Rayudu for his ‘three-dimensional qualities’, will be a very useful player for the team. Since Rahul has found a place in the team he should get the preference for the number 2 spot ahead of talented Shikhar Dhawan. Of late, his record has been patchy and English condition calls for the highest level of technique, which is missing in him.
To the selectors’ credit, they resisted the temptation to include a fourth specialist seamer just to fill the numbers. None of the seamers other than the three selected has inspired confidence in repeated trials. Four all rounders — Ravindra Jadeja; Kedar Jadhav; Hardik Pandya; and Shankar –have their task cutout. If the English summer turns out as hot as it was last year, India will have the unique advantage of playing twin leg-spinners, and even throwing in a third spinner in Jadeja. Captain Kohli a lot of option to form a winning combination.