Cricket lovers' eyes were fixed on the news coming from Sri Lanka, where the wait in the Congress Hall of Kandy's Earl Regency Hotel was now turning into a stir. BCCI chief selector Ajit Agarkar and Indian cricket team captain Rohit Sharma arrive to announce the squad for the ICC ODI World Cup. Within a few moments Agarkar announces 15 names.
Captain Rohit Sharma said, "We are delighted. With balance and depth, nothing could have been better. We have three all-rounders, four bowlers and six batsmen in our team."
Big changes were not expected, but there was some curiosity about some names, especially about the name of wicket-keeper batsman KL Rahul. The selectors must have felt that KL's experience on a big stage like the World Cup should be given preference. However, after surgery for thigh injury, KL Rahul has not played an international match since March this year.
Chief selector Ajit Agarkar clarified, "There are some fitness issues but all three players have returned, KL is fit. I think this is the most balanced team for the World Cup. KL Rahul has some problems before the Asia Cup. "But now he has recovered from all this. He is an important player for us. We are happy that he is in the team."
Here Agarkar is talking about Shreyas Iyer and Jasprit Bumrah along with KL Rahul. Both these players are also making a comeback after recovering from injury. Last year, Shreyas Iyer scored the most runs in all three formats combined. He has played against Pakistan in the Asia Cup. After his return, Jasprit Bumrah was made the captain in the T20 series on Ireland tour.
Former Indian cricketer and coach Ravi Shastri is calling the team balanced, "Today the best team has been selected. Come on guys, get out and kick some ass. win. lose. part and parcel. Most important. enjoy. Respect."
Kapil Dev, captain of the 1983 world-winning team, told a news channel, "This could have been the best team for the selectors. Now the captain has to think what could be the best options for him.
The selectors have also included Ishan Kishan as the second wicketkeeper-batsman. Captain Rohit Sharma has not ruled out the possibility of playing both Kishan and Rahul in the 11 if the situation demands. Fast bowler Prasidh Krishna and left-handed batsman Tilak Verma, who were included in the Asia Cup team, could not get a place in the team.
Despite not performing well in ODIs, Suryakumar was given preference over Tilak Verma. 32-year-old Suryakumar failed in the three-match ODI series against West Indies, but the selectors took note of the Mumbai batsman's explosive ability.
Apart from these, there is an uproar over Ravichandran Ashwin, Sanju Samson and Yuzvendra Chahal not being included in the team. After the selection of both KL Rahul and Ishan Kishan, there was no place for Sanju Samson. Sanju is included as a reserve in the Indian team that went to Sri Lanka to play the Asia Cup.
Ravichandran Ashwin himself came forward and congratulated the team. He said on Twitter: "Go ahead boys! A World Cup on home soil is always special and let's support them in bringing it home."
Ashwin may be considered one of the greatest spinners of all time, but he was never considered a candidate for selection before the World Cup squad was announced.
However, many experts believe in his usefulness on the Indian pitch. Ashwin played the last ODI in January last year. Ashwin, who debuted in November 2011, has taken 151 wickets in 113 ODI matches.
Whereas former Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh has expressed surprise at the non-selection of Yuzvendra Chahal. He wrote on Twitter, "Surprised to see Chahal not in the World Cup team. He is a match-winning player."
However, Chahal was never a strong contender for the ODI team. He missed out on making a place in the team for the T20 World Cup as well. He was definitely an important part of the team in the 2019 World Cup. Since then, he got to play only 23 ODIs, in which he took 37 wickets. Still, when it came to the selection between him and Kuldeep, he could not impress the selectors.
Chief selector Agarkar said, “Chahal was discussed, but sometimes we have to see the balance of the team. Kuldeep is doing really well. Akshar has done well, but it was difficult to fit two wrist spinners, so Chahal did not get a chance.
Kuldeep has been impressive in ODIs since 2022, taking 34 wickets in 19 matches. On the other hand, Chahal has played only two matches in ODIs this year and has taken only three wickets.
There are two more spinners in the form of Ravindra Jadeja and Akshar Patel. Both of them are also left arm spinners. In such a situation, Chahal could have been taken in place of Akshar Patel, who would not be able to make a place in the playing XI.
When the Indian captain was asked for his reaction on the discussions and criticism about the weaknesses and strengths of the Indian team ahead of the World Cup, Rohit seemed to have lost his temper as he sternly instructed the reporter to not speak again. Don't ask questions, especially during the World Cup.
He said, “I have said this many times that we have nothing to do with what happens outside. Our work is different. We are not concerned with what is happening outside nor are we concerned with what is being discussed. Every single player in the team is a professional and has gone through all these things. So, it doesn't matter.”
The World Cup will start from October 5. The first match is to be played between England and New Zealand in Ahmedabad. The Indian team will play the first match against Australia on October 8. India will take on Pakistan in the much-awaited encounter on October 14 in Ahmedabad.
Under the leadership of Rohit Sharma, Team India has a chance to win the World Cup after 12 years. The team has not been able to win the ICC title for the last 10 years.