The selection panel, led by MSK Prasad, and Virat Kohli met at the BCCI headquarters in Mumbai earlier today, before naming the men who will be heading to the UK in late May to try and win the trophy for the third time. While most of the slots had been firmed up well beforehand, there were question marks around the No. 4 position in the batting order, which many players had auditioned for with varying degrees of success in recent months.
Ambati Rayudu and Pant were among the contenders for the spot, but the selectors placed their faith in Karthik, with Rahul around as a reserve opening batsman and another option for No. 4. Prasad said even Vijay Shankar offered India an option at No. 4, though he has never batted that high for India in his short career so far.
“After the Champions Trophy [in mid-2017], we have tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also includes Dinesh Karthik at that order, and we also tried Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but what Vijay Shankar offers is three dimensions,” Prasad said after announcing the squad. “Apart from his batting, he can bowl. If the conditions are suitable, overcast, which we might encounter in England, he might bowl a bit and he’s a fantastic fielder. That’s the thing that went in favour of Vijay Shankar. We are looking at him at No. 4 and with Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav in, we have plenty of options at that No. 4 slot right now.”
Prasad said Karthik won the selectors’ nod over Pant because of his experience of performing under pressure. “One of them [Pant or Karthik] will play in the XI [if] MS [Dhoni] is injured. So under such situations, in crunch matches, who is the best guy who can handle the pressure? That is the reason that went in favour of Dinesh Karthik. Pant is full of talent. There’s a lot of time for him. It’s just unfortunate that he’s missed out. Under pressure, we have seen Dinesh Karthik finishing matches. That scored for him.”
Jadeja also makes the squad, in addition to the regular limited-overs spinners Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav. The inclusion of his left-arm spin means the squad includes only three pace bowlers in Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, with Vijay Shankar and Hardik Pandya providing all-round seam-bowling options. Will that be enough in English conditions? Prasad said four other pacers will “travel with the squad”, though they have not been officially named. “Khaleel Ahmed‘s name also came up for discussion. Along with him, we also discussed Navdeep Saini. So they will be in and around, and if the need arises, definitely one among them will get picked.”
Teams can make changes to their squads, without needing permission from the ICC’s technical committee, till May 23. ESPNcricinfo understands the April 23 deadline was put in place to allow the ICC to start working out team logistics in terms of booking rooms, travel etc. However, Prasad said no changes will be made to the squad except in case of injuries.
The squad: Virat Kohli (capt), Rohit Sharma (vice-capt), Shikhar Dhawan, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami.