India have not won an ICC event since 2013. At the ODI World Cup later this year, Indian cricket fans expect to see that jinx broken.
India’s tour of the West Indies was expected to help in one crucial aspect. Performances on the tour were expected to help finalise India’s squad for the ODI World Cup 2023. In reality, the Indian selectors are farther away from selecting the best Indian squad for the ICC event.
Lop-sided Squad Selection for WI Tour
India travelled to the Caribbeans with a surfeit of openers. These included Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Ishan Kishan, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Ruturaj Gaikwad. The selectors chose to ignore the glaring problem – the middle order. That neglect could come back to bite the Indian team. With the World Cup a few months away, India’s batting order is far from settled.
Worrisome Middle Order
In the first ODI versus West Indies, India chased 118 to win. The men in blue should have strolled to the target. Instead, they lost 5 wickets. Though Ishan Kishan scored a fifty, Gill, his opening partner failed to fire. Suryakumar Yadav at number three, Hardik Pandya at number four, and Shardul Thakur at number six failed to set the stands on fire. Samson was not even included in the eleven. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli did not bat.
In the second match of the series, India batted first and were bowled out for 181. This time around, Kishan (55) and Gill (34) gave India a great start by putting on 90 for the first wicket. Then followed a collapse. Inexplicably, Axar Patel walked in at number three, followed by Hardik, Suryakumar, Jadeja and Thakur.
How Observers Rate India’s Chances
India are bookmakers’ favourites to win ODI World Cup 2023 in familiar home conditions. However, some past players are not so sure. Kapil Dev and Yuvraj Singh are prominent among the players who doubt whether the current Indian squad is motivated to win.
Kapil Dev Sees Lack of Team Effort
Kapil Dev seems to believe that the IPL is the root cause of India’s problems. Too much money has led to arrogance, according to the former India skipper. Kapil Dev also bemoaned the apparent lack of team effort. Speaking to a television news channel, he said that India would find the going tough. According to the legendary allrounder, the coach, along with the selectors and the team management would need to take some tough decisions. Personal interests would have to take a back-seat and players would need to think about the team. “If you think Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and 2-3 players will win us the World Cup then that’s never going to happen. You should believe in your team.”
Yuvraj Singh Perceives Weak Middle Order
Likewise, Yuvraj Singh is pessimistic about India’s chances of winning the World Cup. He sees a cloud over the composition of the middle order, in the absence of Rahul and Shreyas Iyer. Both players are currently undergoing rehab. Iyer underwent surgery in London for a back injury. Rahul is still under treatment for a hamstring issue that he picked up during the IPL.
Wasim Jaffer Wants Bumrah Back
However, some others are optimistic. For instance, Wasim Jaffer is enthused by the return to fitness of Jasprit Bumrah. According to Jaffer, India cannot win the World Cup without Bumrah spearheading the attack. Bumrah’s return to cricketing action as captain of India’s tour of Ireland is good news.
What will our batting order be at the World Cup? Will Rohit Sharma open or prefer to go down the order? Will KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer recover sufficiently from injury to play in the World Cup? Will Bumrah return to his best bowling form ahead of the World Cup? The Indian team management must seek answers to these questions as quickly as possible.