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India’s WC squad announced; Vijay, Uthappa miss the bus

Before the Indian selectors sat down to zero in on the 15-member squad that will represent India at next month’s ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, there was just one lingering question, “Yuvraj or no Yuvraj?” A couple of weeks ago, it would have been fatuous to think that Yuvraj Singh would even come close to making the squad for the World Cup. But with doubts about Ravindra Jadeja’s fitness and a dearth of options for the all-rounder’s slot, Yuvraj had a slim chance of making the cut. But the Sandeep Patil-led selection panel seem to have backed Jadeja’s fitness, leaving Yuvraj out in the cold. 

There is no place for Robin Uthappa or Murali Vijay either, though the selectors have included Axar Patel and Stuart Binny. Others in the squad pretty much pick themselves. 

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin are the only survivors from the squad that lifted the trophy on home soil four years ago. Ranked second in the ICC’s ODI rankings, India, in spite of its disastrous Test form, has been one of the teams to beat in the shorter format of the game over the last couple of seasons.

While the Indian batting is packed with an abundance talent, it’s the bowling that will worry Dhoni. The Indian pace attack, in the past, has been guilty of leaking too many runs at the death — a problem that the Indian camp has failed to address for some time now. Still, India will start as one of the favourites and look clinch a third world title. Here’s a look at the chosen 15 who will look to conquer the world Down Under:

Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain)

The Ranchi dasher may have retired his whites, but he is still undeniably, India’s best player in limited overs cricket. Criticised for being too defensive in Test cricket, Dhoni has mastered the art of winning matches in the shorter format, be it with the bat or while donning the captain’s hat. In 2011, Dhoni was instrumental in leading India to its first World Cup triumph in 28 years. Along with leading with the side, Dhoni will also play a crucial role with the bat, particularly while chasing. 

Rohit Sharma

Sharma’s Test form — much like some of his teammates — has been abysmal. But its the limited overs format that Sharma revels in. Fresh from a historic 264 against Sri Lanka, Sharma has fitted into the opener’s role well and will be relied on for strong starts. 

Shikhar Dhawan

After a prolific 2013, the man with the twirling moustache endured a dismal run with the bat in 2014. A poor player of swing bowling, Dhawan will be put through a stern test on the fast and bouncy pitches of Australia and New Zealand. 

Virat Kohli

Arguably the best batsman in the world at the moment, Kohli will be India’s main man at the World Cup. Equally adept at handling both pace and spin, a strong tournament for Kohli will bolster India’s chances of going all the way. 

Suresh Raina

Over the last couple of years, Raina has established himself as an ODI specialist. Electric in the field and a deadly finisher with the blade, Raina has become one of the mainstays of the Indian ODI team. However, his susceptibility to the short ball may trouble him in Australia and New Zealand.

Ajinkya Rahane 

After being a fringe player for so long, Rahane seems to have grabbed his opportunity with both hands. The Mumbaikar, who possesses a wide repertoire of shots can operate both in the middle-order as well as the back-up opener. 

Ambati Rayadu

From the clutches of the now defunct Indian Cricket League to playing for India, Rayadu’s comeback to the national fold is laudable. Rayadu may not be an automatic choice in the XI, but is more than a capable back-up batsman. 

Ravichandran Ashwin

The offie from Chennai played a limited role in India’s 2011 triumph, but he will be the team’s leading spinner in 2015. Ashwin often goes for runs, but has the knack of picking up crucial wickets. His batting lower down the order will also come in handy. 

Ravindra Jadeja

Jadeja is the perfect embodiment of the modern-day limited overs cricketer. Equally effective with bat and ball, along with being a live wire in the field, Jadeja is one of the most important players in India’s ODI set-up. His fitness will be the only worry. 

Stuart Binny

The other all-rounder in the squad, Binny’s performances since his debut last year have been largely unimpressive. But on pitches that will assist fast bowlers, his seam-ups may be useful. However, it is difficult to see him dislodge Jadeja from the first XI.

Axar Patel

After impressing in the Indian Premier League, Patel has made the transition from domestic to international cricket with ease. A promising left-arm spinner. Patel will find it challenging to bowl on pitches that traditionally do not offer much to the spinners.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar

A talented seam bowler who can move it both ways, Kumar will lead India’s bowling attack at the World Cup. However, due to his lack of pace, Kumar often struggles on flat decks. He must also work on his death bowling. 

Mohammed Shami

Shami is one of the few bowlers in India who can move the ball at pace. Also a skillful exponent of reverse swing, Shami will be entrusted with the task of containing opposition batsmen during the slog overs. 

Ishant Sharma

With Sharma, it’s either the sublime or the woeful. Striking a balance between things in clearly not one of his fortes. The bouncy pitches at the World Cup will aid his style of bowling, but he must not overdo the short ball. 

Umesh Yadav

Yadav may be the one of the fastest bowlers around, but his erratic bowling often spells trouble for the Indian team. However, his ability to bowl yorkers at the death should ensure him a place in the XI.

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