The Virat Kohli-led Indian team went into the recently concluded home series against Australia with the aim of finalizing a solid 15-member squad that has the ability to make India champions at the upcoming 2019 World Cup. While announcing the team for the home series, chief selector MSK Prasad also mentioned that apart from 2 or 3 spots, the selection committee and the team management are on the same page in respect to the other 12-13 names for the mega event. However, the Aaron Finch-led Australian team came as a surprise package to upset the hosts, defeating them 2-0 in the T20Is and 3-2 in the ODIs. With this astonishing performance, the visitors also halted the Men in Blue’s World Cup preparations as this was Team India’s last international assignment before the World Cup.
India chose to try out a few players in the Australia series which included the likes of KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Vijay Shankar, Umesh Yadav and Siddarth Kaul. Apart from Vijay Shankar, the rest of the players failed to prove a point and thus, have thrown the ball in the selectors’ and team management’s court. While there were also a few like Ravindra Jadeja and Ambati Rayudu who were initially certain to play the 2019 World Cup, but now their World Cup spots are also under serious doubts.
Here are the four players whose World Cup selection chances are under serious threats:
- Rishabh Pant
Indian wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant came into the limited-overs setup with a great reputation of a power-hitter, a batsman who has the X-factor in him to turn the game on its head on the judgment day. However, apart from one or two trailers, he has till now failed to live up to the expectations, scoring just 93 runs in five ODIs played so far. In the recent five-match home series against Australia, Rishabh was given a chance in the last two ODIs, in order to push his case further for the second wicket-keeper’s slot for the 2019 World Cup.
He replaced MS Dhoni in capacity of a wicket-keeper batsman in the fourth and fifth ODIs against Australia. However, he returned with some very disappointing numbers both with the bat as well as behind the wickets. He only managed to score 36 and16 runs in the fourth and fifth ODIs respectively, while his performance behind the wickets was also below-par in the Mohali ODI, dropping some crucial chances which turned the momentum of the game completely in the opposition’s favour. With this poor performance, Pant has put his hopes of playing the 2019 World Cup under series doubts.
- KL Rahul
Indian Test opener KL Rahul has experienced some very tough times both on and off the field in the recent few months. His Test form witnessed a major slump in 2018, failing to come amongst the runs in all the three overseas Test series in South Africa, England and Australia. After being dropped from the Test team, he then got involved in the Koffee with Karan-controversy which left his limited-overs spot also hanging. However, he was then recalled and was part of both the T20I as well as the Indian ODI team in the Australia series.
On his return, Rahul contributed with some impressive performances in the two-match T20I series. He smashed an excellent half-century in the first T20I, while scored 26-ball 47 in the second game. However, he failed to carry his form, when he was given a chance in the fourth ODI in Mohali, returning with a poor 31-ball 26-run knock. After the disappointing performance, he was then overlooked for the fifth ODI. This ignorance has also left his probable World Cup spot under the barrel.
- Ambati Rayudu
After a magnificent run in IPL 2018, Ambati Rayudu was recalled into the national team for the 2018 Asia Cup. He contributed with some significant performances in the 50-overs tournament and was then part of the Indian team in the ODI series against Windies, Australia and New Zealand. He played a couple of sensational knocks in the limited-overs series against the Caribbean team and the Kiwis. Before the start of the Australia ODI series, Rayudu looked as the final answer to India’s No.4 mystery.
But his meager numbers in the series has surely halted his World Cup dream. The right-hander scored a total of just 33 runs together in the first three ODIs against the visiting Australian team. After his dismal performance, he was dropped from the side for the final two ODIs. Rayudu’s unimpressive effort has also added to India’s never-ending No.4 conundrum misery.
- Dinesh Karthik
After some staggering consistent performances in the domestic circuit, Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik earned a recall to the Indian limited-overs setup. He was first tried at a number of spots, 4, 5 and 6, before getting finalized at the finisher’s position. He played some scintillating innings as a finisher, the astounding knock in the 2018 Nidahas Trophy final against Bangladesh, where he smashed Soumya Sarkar for a fabulous six to help India win the T20I competition and then Karthik also contributed with a valuable cameo to guide his team over the line in the third T20I against Australia in the same year.
However, in spite of some consistent performances, Karthik was the most unfortunate one when compared to the above three players as he was only picked for the T20I series against Australia. In the first T20I match, he scored just a single run, while managed an unbeaten 3-ball 8 in the second game. After these ordinary performances, Karthik has failed to prove that he, and not Rishabh Pant, should go to the 2019 World Cup as Team India’s reserve wicket-keeper.