April 16: Picking specialists is an extension of Virat Kohli’s Test selection policy but this time it has produced a World Cup squad that looks really thin on batting. Going by the primary role of the players, the 15-member India squad has five bowlers — Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav – four all-rounders — Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Vijay Shankar and Ravindra Jadeja — two wicket-keepers – MS Dhoni and Dinesh Karthik — and only four specialist batsmen — Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and KL Rahul.
This squad has possibly the best opening batsmen, the best batsman of this generation, a legendary wicket-keeper and tactician as well as a balanced bowling attack. What it lacks is a middle-order batsman of repute and a finisher who takes minimum time to shift gears. That’s quite a departure from the years — as recent as last World Cup — India had bragging rights in these departments.
For the first time since 1996, India has picked only one left-handed batsman – other than Jadeja — in a World Cup squad. Over the last two decades, India has had an abundance of left-handed batsmen, since Vinod Kambli stormed the Test stage with two double centuries in his first four Tests. We are also talking Sourav Ganguly, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina — all featuring in multiple World Cups