Ravindra Jadeja, Murali Vijay a few talking points as selectors pick World Cup squad

Mumbai, G Krishnan: Left-arm all-rounder’s fitness issues have bought Yuvraj back in spotlight *Opener’s strong show in Australia should see him bag the 15th spot

As the selectors sit down on Tuesday to pick the 15 for next month’s ICC World Cup that they think — and Indian cricket lovers believe — will retain the trophy, there should not be much time spent on debating who should be in and who out. The 15 more or less select themselves.

The odd question would definitely be on whether left-arm spinning all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja has fully recovered from shoulder injury and if he is match fit, first for the tri-series beginning on January 16 in Sydney, and later for the quadrennial event.

Jadeja should be the preferred candidate ahead of Axar Patel, who, though, was the first choice ahead of the Saurashtra player in the last home series against Sri Lanka and gave a fair account of himself.

The name of Yuvraj Singh has suddenly been making the rounds in the lead up to the selection, though the 2011 edition’s player of the tournament does not figure in the 30 probables. Yuvraj may be fit, may have the motivation to give one last try with the India shirt, may have scored three back-to-back 100s in Ranji trophy but has not played in an ODI in 2014. His last ODI appearance came in December 2013 in South Africa, while in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season, he had only 204 runs to show in eight innings besides picking up only four wickets with his left-arm spin for Punjab. It would defy logic and do injustice to the others in the probables if Yuvraj were to be picked only on his recent Ranji performances.

One may wonder how a player from outside the 30 be included in the final 15.

The ICC does not restrict the selection of the final 15 to the 30 hopefuls. It allows for players to be selected from anywhere with the idea to select the best. However, once the tournament starts, players may be replaced only on medical grounds subject to the technical committee approving it, and not for technical reasons.

The top order need not be altered, with world record holder Rohit Sharma opening with Shikhar Dhawan and the in-form Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane to follow. Ambati Rayudu, who has fitted himself nicely in the one-day format, and Suresh Raina make the middle-order with just-retired Test captain MS Dhoni to follow.

While Rayudu may also be looked at as the reserve wicket-keeper, Robin Uthappa will also be a strong contender for the slot. So, it would be between Rayudu and Uthappa with the former certain to get the nod.

Ravichandran Ashwin should emerge as the lead spinner with Jadeja for support, while the five seamers ought to be Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav and Mohit Sharma.

Mohit, who did not figure in the last home series due to injury, looks the best bet for the death overs. Though, it could be between him and Stuart Binny as Dhoni has been harping about the need for a medium-pace bowling all-rounder and the Karnataka player fits the bill. Varun Aaron has to miss out as ODIs are not just about sheer pace.

That leaves with one slot to be filled, which should ideally go to Murali Vijay. The Test opener has been in prolific form not just in Australia but also in England. His Test performances have helped him force his way to the ODI squad, though he could not be fitted into the XI. The last of his 14 ODI appearances came in July 2013 in the West Indies against Sri Lanka.

Vijay is yet to score a ODI half-century. But he is one who can bat according to the situation and is also a safe fielder in the deep. Unless the selectors go for an ODI specialist, Vijay should take that 15th slot by his weight of runs in Tests. Also, he knows the conditions best, and has been playing and scoring in Australia too.

Likely World Cup 15: MS Dhoni (C), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Murali Vijay

Posted by on January 6, 2015. Filed under Sports World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.