world cup

Indian batsman Dinesh Karthik plays a shot during the first T20 International match between Indian and West Indies at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata, on Nov. 4, 2018. (Kuntal Chakrabarty/IANS photo)

NEW DELHI — Dinesh Karthik has beaten Rishabh Pant in the race to become the second wicket-keeper in the Indian team for the upcoming World Cup, which begins May 30 in England and Wales.

The five wise men of Indian cricket, led by M.S.K. Prasad, met in Mumbai April 15 and picked the 15-member squad. Vijay 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.

While skipper Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, M.S. Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah picked themselves on the back of some consistent show in recent times, there were three main areas of concern that the selectors needed to take a call on.

The much-debated number four slot, whether Pant or Karthik go as the second wicket-keeper behind MS Dhoni and finally, if the team will pick a fourth pacer or an additional third spinner considering that the wickets will be on the slower side at this time of the year in England has been answered.

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. Having tried Shankar at the top, they have backed him in the squad. The fact that Shankar continued to bat at number three or four in this edition of the IPL for the Sunrisers Hyderabad was another hint that the team management had asked him to settled down to the idea of batting at the top.

Karthik has eclipsed Pant to the second wicket-keeper's spot. Even though Karthik failed to do much in the 12th edition of the cash-rich league, the team management had already said they aren't looking at it.

In the bowling department too, it was a case of backing an in-form Jadeja because not only has he done well for Chennai Super Kings, but also, wickets are expected to be on the slower side during the showpiece event. More importantly, Jadeja brings with him solidarity at the lower end of the batting and not to forget his brilliance on the field.

Pandya, having missed the series against Australia, due to issues with his core is back and fits in as the all-rounder who will also be looked at as the finisher.

While both Prasad and captain Kohli had made it amply clear that players' performance in the IPL would not be considered, sources in the know of developments told IANS that it was indeed difficult to ignore some of the breathtaking knocks played by the likes of Rahul.

India's 15-member World Cup Squad: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Shankar, Hardik Pandya, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik.

Soon after the naming of the Indian squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, former batting great VVS Laxman said the Virat Kohli-led side was one of the favorites for the showpiece event.

"The Indian team is very balanced and one of the strong contenders for the title. I have monitored Bhuvi and Vijay in the nets while they were on Sunrisers Hyderabad duties," Laxman said.

"They look in great shape and are raring to perform on a stage like World Cup. I can see these players contributing to team's success in a major way," he added.

An elated Bhuvneshwar Kumar, currently leading the Hyderabad pace attack, said: "I am extremely happy. The English conditions will suit my strength and I am looking to make most of it. Playing for SRH in IPL has given me the right match practice just before the mega tournament like World Cup. This is my second WC and I am pretty confident to perform at such level."

Vijay Shankar, currently playing for Hyderabad and will be playing his first World Cup, said getting a place in India's World Cup squad was like a dream come true. "I am extremely elated. This is like a dream come true. We have a few World cup winning team members here at SRH and I have spoken to them to understand what it feels like to play in a WC and then go on to win it."

"I have learned a lot from them on the ways to manage pressure at such a large event," Shankar said.

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