Having received a clearance certificate on his fitness from the NCA, K.L. Rahul is set to be included in India’s 15-member provisional World Cup squad, which will be announced by Tuesday (September 5).
Rahul has been recuperating at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru post a thigh surgery, and he will have one final round of fitness drills before flying out to Sri Lanka to join the Indian team for the ongoing Asia Cup.
It is understood that the NCA trainers and the team management have been left with little doubt after Rahul batted extensively at nets and in the match simulation process.
India is expected to announce their World Cup-bound 15 within the September 5 cut off date.
But the selectors decided to go ahead with the announcement after Rahul received the fitness clearance. He can be expected to keep wickets too in the World Cup.
Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar had reached Pallekele on Saturday, and it is understood that he held discussions with captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid post India’s match against Pakistan, which was abandoned due to rain.
Ishan Kishan will be the second wicketkeeper in the side and his composed 81 against Pakistan on Saturday was the clincher.
It means that Sanju Samson will miss out on an India berth. Samson is in Sri Lanka with the Indian team as a travelling reserve.
Suryakumar Yadav too has found a place in the squad despite his less than satisfactory outings in the ODIs.
Suryakumar could not get going in the ODIs against West Indies (July-August), making just 78 runs from three matches averaging 26.
However, the team management felt that the Mumbaikar can add further meat to the middle-order.
In batting apart from skipper Rohit, players like Virat Kohli, Shubman Gill and Shreyas Iyer were automatic picks. Hence, Tilak Varma will have to sit out for the moment.
Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj and Mohammed Shami will handle the pace department along with all rounders Hardik Pandya and Shardul Thakur.
So, Prasidh Krishna, who is part of the India squad for the Asia Cup, will not be featured in the World Cup squad.
The spin unit will be led by left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav, who has been in fine fettle this year.
Kuldeep is India’s highest wicket-taker in ODIs in 2023, taking 22 wickets in 11 matches. Kuldeep and Ravindra Jadeja will be India’s two first-choice spinners.
This will be the second World Cup for Kuldeep as he had played 7 matches for India in the 2019 World Cup, picking up 6 wickets in England.
The selectors and the management thought deeply about the third spinner and zeroed in on left-arm spinner Axar Patel, whom they thought will also give a bit more depth in batting if needed.
In that context, veterans R. Ashwin and Yuzvendra Chahal, who had plucked 12 wickets from 8 matches in the 2019 World Cup, will miss the cut.
India’s provisional squad for World Cup 2023: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Ravindra Jadeja, Shardul Thakur, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Kuldeep Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Axar Patel, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav.