The national selectors meet on Tuesday to pick the 15 who they believe can replicate the magic of 2011 in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, commencing on February 14. They will also pick the squad for the tri-series in Australia, also involving England, which starts on January 16.
For all the embarrassing results in overseas Tests, India's performances in ODIs have been better. They lost the ODI legs in South Africa and New Zealand badly, but outplayed England in their last overseas limited-overs assignment in 2014. India also won the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.The main focus will be on Ravindra Jadeja, undergoing rehabilitation for a left shoulder injury. That offers hope for a couple of players. While the all-rounder is expected to regain fitness before the World Cup, young left-arm spinner Axar Patel could be a like-for-like replacement. If the selectors look for experience, the in-form Yuvraj Singh could be an option. Even if Jadeja is fit for the World Cup, Axar could make the cut based on his performances in the ODIs against West Indies and Sri Lanka (13 wickets in six games). The Gujarat player, only 20, can chip in with the bat and is an excellent fielder.
Yuvraj's selection, though, remains a long shot. The board seemed to move on when the 33-year-old was left out of the central contracts and from among the 30 Cup probables. But the Player of the 2011 World Cup struck three consecutive Ranji Trophy centuries last month and Jadeja's injury has created a buzz around him. However, BCCI sources say the selectors are unlikely to look beyond the initial 30.
Even if Jadeja fails to recover, India can seek a replacement as per the ICC guidelines. Among batsmen, Ambati Rayudu should make the cut, as he can also keep wicket. Murali Vijay's chance as a reserve opener would have been bright but for Ajinkya Rahane's emergence as an option for the slot.
While Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohd Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma should form the pace attack, Stuart Binny could pip Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron due to his batting.