India is poised to make a bid for their third World Cup title, following their previous triumphs in 1983 and 2011. The team’s recent successes, including winning the Asia Cup and defeating Australia, have further fueled expectations. However, the formidable pool of talent in the 15-member squad has led to a selection puzzle. Cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar and Irfan Pathan have weighed in on the ideal playing XI for India’s opener in Chennai.
The excitement is palpable as Team India gears up for their World Cup campaign, which begins precisely ten days from today. The anticipation is heightened by the fact that India will be playing on home turf, and fans are hopeful of witnessing the Men in Blue lift the coveted trophy once again.
India’s preparations for the World Cup have been nothing short of exceptional. They ended a five-year trophy drought by clinching the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka just a few weeks ago. Additionally, they demonstrated their prowess by defeating Australia 2-1 in a series held on their home ground. These victories have instilled confidence in the team and fans alike.
Despite their recent successes, Team India faces a selection dilemma, primarily concerning the middle-order batters. Four talented batters—Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, KL Rahul, and Ishan Kishan—are competing for two pivotal slots, namely No. 4 and 5. The second challenge pertains to the composition of the bowling lineup. The team must decide whether to include three fast bowlers or opt for as many spinners.
In a conversation with Star Sports on their YouTube channel, Sunil Gavaskar expressed his support for Shreyas Iyer and KL Rahul for the middle-order slots. He cited Iyer’s impressive century against Australia in Indore and Rahul’s remarkable performance, including a century against Pakistan in the Asia Cup and two half-centuries against Australia, as reasons for his choice.
Gavaskar’s India XI for World Cup opener against Australia: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah
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Irfan Pathan, sharing the same panel, concurred with Gavaskar’s top-7 selection. However, he emphasized the importance of having wicket-taking bowlers in the lineup, especially considering the dew factor that could affect early matches in the tournament. Pathan advocated for India to play five proper bowlers, and with Hardik Pandya as the sixth bowler, he believed that bowlers with the ability to take crucial wickets were crucial. He suggested that India should choose three pacers or consider including Ashwin to complement Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja on turning tracks.
“I completely agree with the top 7. But it boils down to the bowling department. I want India to play five proper bowlers. Since you have Hardik as the sixth bowler, you should go with bowlers who have wicket-taking abilities. It is because the pitches India will get now will have a dew factor involved, so then you need to have a solid bowling lineup. So you either pick three pacers or if you feel like you want to get someone to accompany Kuldeep Yadav and Jadeja…on a turning track, and if Ashwin is good enough, they can pick him,” he said.