The most important takeaways from India’s World Cup squad announcement

India’s 15-man squad for the upcoming ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup 2023 has been confirmed.

The roster is, as expected, a slimmed-down version of the Asia Cup squad, with three players – Tilak Varma, Prasidh Krishna, and Sanju Samson – missing out on the World Cup squad.

Captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, and Virat Kohli form the top order. The middle order consists of Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ishan Kishan, and Suryakumar Yadav. Rahul and Kishan will also be India’s first-choice wicketkeepers.

Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, and Shardul Thakur are all all-rounder options. The bowling group is led by Jasprit Bumrah, with Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj completing the pace bowling group. Kuldeep Yadav is the team’s top spinner.

We take a look at some of the key takeaways from the squad announced on Tuesday, September 5th.

Rahul gets a break from Kishan’s blitz.

Rahul’s fitness was being evaluated in terms of his availability as both a batter and a keeper. The star performs keeper duties while also providing much-needed support in the middle order.

This was critical in a side already stacked with top-order options, namely Rohit, Gill, and Kohli. As a result, even openers like Rahul were forced to bat in the middle order.

However, the Karnataka player aided his cause with a superb run in the middle. Rahul scored 742 runs in 18 games, averaging 53 and striking out nearly 100 times.

India’s other keeping options were either out of form (Sanju Samson) or successful in the middle order (Kishan).

However, Kishan’s recent form in the middle order against Pakistan relieves some of Rahul’s pressure. This gives India some leeway, including the possibility of Rahul playing as a pure batter while Kishan keeps wickets.

This can help the right-hander ease back into the side without overworking himself by demonstrating his ability as a keeper as well.

As a backup, SKY receives backing.

Tilak Varma and Samson were retained in India’s Asia Cup squad, along with Suryakumar Yadav. This was for the position of extra middle-order batter. This was due to Suryakumar’s inability to establish himself as a middle-order batter.

In 26 games, the Mumbai batter has scored 511 runs at an average of 24.33 and has two half-centuries.

His ODI performance in 2023 has been unimpressive. In January 2023, he scored four runs against Sri Lanka. He then scored 45 runs in two games against New Zealand. His form deteriorated further in March, when he was dismissed for three consecutive ducks against Australia. His numbers slightly improved against the West Indies, where he scored 78 runs in three innings.

Nonetheless, the selectors have placed their trust in Suryakumar. Perhaps the decision was influenced by his competitors’ success or lack of experience. Suryakumar also found form, albeit in T20Is, against the West Indies, scoring 61 and 83 in his last two innings.

Samson is hurt by his recent failures.

Samson could have made a strong case for a spot on the Indian team earlier this year. He could have been the backup batter in the middle of the order. Being a keeper was also advantageous.

However, the Kerala player went out of form at an inopportune time. Samson has averaged 22.16 across formats in seven opportunities since the West Indies tour.

Prior to the tour, he averaged an impressive 66 in one-day internationals (ODIs), but those figures have dropped after the two games against the West Indies.

With selectors favoring Suryakumar in the middle order and the return of Rahul, who provides an extra option with the gloves, Samson is left out of the 15-man squad.

Due to a lack of part-time options, all-rounders are favored.

Pandya, Shardul, Jadeja, and Axar are India’s four all-round options. It is clear that the Men in Blue place a premium on their batting abilities lower in the order. This was evident in their recent Asia Cup game against Pakistan, when they used eight batting options.

Because of the presence of these all-rounders, specialist bowlers such as Prasidh Krishna, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Umran Malik, among others, have missed out on World Cup berths. This is due to India’s batting unit’s lack of bowling options.

If some of India’s batters were adept at turning their arms over, they could have adjusted a bowler or two. However, due to the lack of these part-time options, India was forced to increase their all-round quota to the maximum.