With India playing its last international series against Australia before the World Cup 2019, the selection committee’s main focus will be to close a couple of available spots for the mega event.
As per a report in PTI, there will be a toss-up between left-arm pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Khaleel Ahmed when the MSK Prasad-led selection panel pick the squad for the five-match ODI series against Australia on Friday (February 15) in Mumbai. The series will also be an indicator as to who among Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik will board the World Cup flight as a specialist-batsman-cum-second-wicketkeeper.
After a couple of good innings for India A against England Lions in the two unofficial Tests, KL Rahul is back in the World Cup contention for the third opener slot.
Report also claims that the selectors have already identified 13 certainties for the World Cup and they are – Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami.
There are at least four contenders for the two available spots. While Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvneshwar are certain in the fast bowling department, the question mark is over a left-arm seamer who will add variation to the pace attack.
Khaleel, who played in Australia and New Zealand, still seems to be a work in progress while Unadkat, who has represented India in only seven ODIs with the last match coming in October 2013, is back in the scheme of things after a good Ranji Trophy season where he led Saurashtra to the final.
A shoot-out is expected between Pant and Karthik. Both of them did a decent job during the recently concluded T20I series against New Zealand. While Pant might double up as the third opener, Karthik has the experience of 91 ODIs under his belt.
The five-match ODI series between India and Australia will start in Hyderabad on March 2 followed by matches in Nagpur (March 5), Ranchi (March 8), Mohali (March 10) and Delhi (March 13).
(With PTI inputs)