Although cricket now has two World Cups, nothing beats the excitement the naming of the squad for the One-day version brings. However, the 15-member final squad chosen on Tuesday for the tournament to be played in Australia and New Zealand from February 14 should not generate much debate, considering the neat job done by the national selectors. India have a largely settled ODI unit, which made the task easy. The one important call Sandeep Patil and Co had to make was the inclusion of Ravindra Jadeja. The hard-hitting batsman and left-arm spinner has been a shoo-in for both the limited-over formats, but the injury on his left shoulder had raised some doubts. Jadeja is undergoing rehabilitation in Chennai and is expected to return to training by mid-January. That gives him sufficient time to regain match fitness. The batsmen picked themselves, even Shikhar Dhawan, who can get into the groove after a poor Test series in the Tri-series, which precedes the World Cup.
This squad should lift India’s fielding standards, vital on the bigger grounds in Australia. It also has a sprinkling of all-round cricketers. Gujarat’s 20-year-old Axar Patel’s selection could prove an inspired one as his left-arm spin stood up well against Sri Lanka at home and he is also a sharp fielder and useful lower-order batsman. Ambati Rayudu will be the back-up wicketkeeper while Ishant Sharma’s experience will matter. He has been inconsistent in the past but bowled well in the home series against Sri Lanka and was very disciplined in the first three Tests Down Under.
Yuvraj Singh, the impact player of the 2007 World Twenty20 triumph and Player of the tournament with all-round contribution when Dhoni’s men regained the title in 2011, was not among the probables as the selectors felt he was past his best. He scored three consecutive Ranji Trophy centuries, but there is no guarantee his fitness would enable him to repeat his brilliant fielding or spin bowling. Karnataka all-rounder Stuart Binny can look to emulate his father Roger — a selector — who was a star of the shock 1983 triumph under Kapil Dev. Robin Uthappa would be disappointed, having been consistent at the top of the order for domestic champions Karnataka. Murali Vijay, so consistent in the current Test series after curbing his aggression, was also in the frame, but Ajinkya Rahane’s ability to open if required meant he had to miss out.