The current Indian One-Day squad lacks experience but still would like to win the series against England © Getty Images
The current Indian One-Day squad lacks experience but still would like to win the series against England © Getty Images

 

India’s 17-man squad for the tour of England has been picked with an eye on the next World Cup. Though some players seem to have established themselves, they face tough competition from the others in the roster and those eyeing a comeback. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks at the competition for spots.

 

Only four members of the current Indian one-day side were a part of the 2011 World Cup victory. This detail is a reflection of how times have changed with some seasoned players falling out of the reckoning due to form and fitness issues. MS Dhoni’s mission is clear — he is eyeing the World Cup next year and is building a solid side in the lead-up. In many ways, the year 2014 is like 2010 — where India tried out numerous players in order to groom them ahead of the World Cup. While India had a fairly settled roster the last time, there is room for many this year.

 

The batting

 

Though there still remain a few spots up for grabs, the batting still looks in good shape. Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja (all-rounder) seem to be the frontline choices. Ajinkya Rahane and Suresh Raina then come into the picture as they are still trying to seal their spots in the eleven. Rahane has batted in the middle order when Rohit and Dhawan have opened and India may look at him to hold the No 4 position. Raina plays that role of a finisher and the sooner he gets to form for India, the better. That gives them the extra cushion in the middle.

 

On the bench, they have Ambati Rayudu, who is yet to settle himself in the side. And now, Sanju Samson has joined in as a back-up. Thus, there is a competition for spots all-round and Raina and Rahane are the first ones who may feel the heat. At the same time, Robin Uthappa and Cheteshwar Pujara may still remain in the scheme of things and could fashion a comeback if needed. So, for those two crucial spots, the tussle may only get intense.

 

All-rounders

 

It is quite fascinating to see India are trying to find an all-rounder to back Jadeja. While the left-hander is now a firm favourite in the side given his proven match-winning abilities, India still would need more options. Stuart Binny is the seam-bowling all-rounder and holds on to his spot thanks to a good performance in Bangladesh. Though Dhoni hasn’t yet shown enough confidence in his bowling yet, Binny may have to capitalise on any opportunity that comes his way with the bat. Plus, there is Karn Sharma, a leg-spinning all-rounder who adds just the extra to a side. Though they aren’t in the squad, Parvez Rasool and Akshar Patel will give them good competition in the months ahead.

 

Bowling worries

 

The bowling department does remain a worry. Only Ravichandran Ashwin has established himself as the spinner and would combine with Jadeja. India may not want to carry that extra spinner in Australian conditions and hence Amit Mishra may have been dropped. They would need a more all-round option for such conditions, which allowed Karn to make his way into the side.

 

The fast bowling department keeps changing due to form and fitness issues. The last year, during the ICC Champions Trophy, India fielded Umesh Yadav, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. While Ishant has rediscovered his form in Tests, he has to fight his way back into the one-day side. Yadav finds himself back in the scheme of things for this series and Bhuvneshwar is gradually getting his mojo back. Mohammed Shami blows hot and cold; without showing that consistency. Then there is Mohit Sharma, who relies on accuracy and has worked his way in thanks to good consistent performances in the Indian Premier League (IPL).

 

But, what about the others? Varun Aaron, Ishwar Pandey, R Vinay Kumar and Dhawal Kulkarni. Aaron and Pandey have been dropped from the one-day side while Vinay Kumar waits for his chances. Kulkarni has picked on recent form and faces a test as he tries to work his way in. This only goes to show the number of options India have. But the worrying thing is that they haven’t settled on a crop of bowlers. A few months down the line, we may see a different line-up when compared to the one in England.

 

To sum up, India have to now focus on their World Cup plans and bring into play the men whom they believe will make it then. It is important that certain players are given enough time in the side for they can develop into good prospects.

 

Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)