The countdown has begun. With less than 100 days to go, ICC World Cup 2019 is all set to raise the temperature in the coming summer. But the players and the support staff are breaking into a sweat already. Getting the permutation and combination right is the key to the Cup. Strategies are crafted to keep the marquee players of the Indian team fit for the ICC World Cup 2019. With the Australian team in India to play a 5-match ODI series, the Indian team couldn’t have asked for more.
While world number 2 ranked ODI team has performed well as a unit, problems persist at an individual level. The long-standing vacancy of the No. 4 batting spot in the team, must be locked at the earliest. Close to 10 players since the ICC World Cup 2015 have tried their luck at the number 4 position, but in vain. The likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Manish Pandey and Yuvraj Singh have all been given a shot to cement the No. 4 spot as theirs. But the hunt continues. However, the last few tours have seen significant progress. Ambati Rayudu has emerged as a knight in shining armor. Indian cricket team coach, Ravi Shastri, had suggested having Virat Kohli bat at No.4.
The Chief Selector, MSK Prasad reiterated his views. Indian cricket captain will find no difficulty in batting in this new position. The No. 1 ranked ODI batsman, averages a mind-blowing 58 while batting at No. 4. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is another contender for the coveted No. 4 batting position. The team management, however, will be keeping its fingers crossed to see Ambati Rayudu put his stamp on the No. 4 spot.
While India battles to fill the No. 4 batting spot, there is another problem in the waiting. On a brighter side, this is a good problem to have — the problem of plenty. India’s bench strength, players waiting in the wings to get a chance, is as strong as the ones on the playing field. The batting order is locked in a tug-of-war between Rishabh Pant and Dinesh Karthik. With the latter dropped for the Australian series, Pant would be fancying his chance to play the World Cup. Will the selectors go for an experienced Karthik or the dynamic Pant, is to be seen.
With Hardik Pandya sustaining a lower-back injury, the all-rounder spot is too up for grabs. After his recent exploits in the series Down Under, Vijay Shankar has been praised by the selectors and the team management. This Australia series will be a test for him too. With Jasprit Bumrah back into the fold after a much-needed rest, the bowling unit looks in good shape. Arguably the best death bowler, his partnership with Bhuvneshwar Kumar can put a choke on any batting team’s total. To add some flavour to this mix, Mohammad Shami has proved that he is more than capable to make the trip to England for the World Cup.
The India Vs Australia series will be a close fought one. Players will put their best foot forward in their respective roles. With IPL down the corner, it will also require them to manage their workload properly before the World Cup. After all, in the jungle, the fittest survive.