Will MS Dhoni be able to retain the title with this squad?
Will MS Dhoni be able to retain the title with this squad?

India announced their 15-member squad for ICC World Cup 2015, putting an end to all speculations. As the fans and critics come out with sharpened claws and teeth, Abhishek Mukherjee puts forth his views. Follow the live blog for squad announcement here

Booming voices of news anchors flooded the newsroom. Twitter and Facebook sprung into action. Every other news in the world of cricket took a backseat. If possible, they would have asked for a one-hour timeout at Newlands for the websites and channels to get the reports out.

We knew the certainties: MS Dhoni will lead; Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, and Mohammed Shami should ideally have been the next three names on the list; all of them featured, as have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravichandran Ashwin. Following his form in 2014, Ajinkya Rahane has also made the cut rather easily. That made it seven, still leaving with eight spots.

Both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have made it ahead of Murali Vijay, which meant that the selectors went by One-Day International (ODI) performances, not by form and success in Australia; to be fair, Dhawan had an excellent show in New Zealand last season. Rohit’s selection over Vijay can probably be argued upon, but both sides will have their supporters.

With the physiotherapist announcing that Ravindra Jadeja would be fit before the World Cup, it was a tie-up between Akshar Patel and Yuvraj Singh. The selectors, perhaps logically, went for the younger man. Yuvraj has been in fantastic form in the domestic season, but if one had to go by form in the longer format, Vijay was the better option.

Ishant Sharma was announced fit as well, which ensured the third seamer’s slot was filled. Umesh Yadav, given his wayward bowling of late, was a bold selection: perhaps it is his wicket-taking ability that influenced the selectors; he was also perhaps an obvious pick, given that Varun Aaron and Dhawal Kulkarni were the other alternatives.

Stuart Binny’s selection may have to do with the fact that India will play a couple of matches in windy New Zealand (he can exploit helpful conditions). That left one spot — that of a batsman who could keep wickets, or the other way round; it was a toss-up between Ambati Rayudu, Robin Uthappa, Wriddhiman Saha, and Naman Ojha.

The selectors went for Rayudu. One would think Uthappa is a more impactful batsman on his day, or Saha is a better man behind the stumps, or Ojha had a wonderful outing in Australia for India A, which made Rayudu’s inclusion a bit baffling. On their defence, one may conclude that they considered Uthappa too inconsistent, Saha’s skills unnecessary, and Ojha too raw.

That is perhaps the only surprise pick.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Chief Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)