Rahul is yet to make a comeback after a long injury layoff and Suryakumar, a proven T20 batter, is yet to make a mark in the 50-over format. The duo’s inclusion meant Sanju Samson and youngster Tilak Varma missed the World Cup bus.
The other prominent names missing from the squad were in the spin departments as the team went for Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja and Axar Patel, leaving no spots from veteran tweakers Yuzvendra Chahal and Ravichandran Ashwin.
Reactions after the announcement of the India squad:
Rohit Sharma conceded that they have to make tough choices while selecting the squad from such a vast pool of talents.
“It is not a bad thing when people are fighting for their spots. The challenges increase and it (the selection) gets harder. But we have to see who is in form, who the opposition is and which player can benefit the most in those circumstances. It happens all the time. We have seen in cricket that you have to make tough choices to ensure the team gets what it needs,” said Rohit during the press conference to announce the squad.
Rohit further added that the decision to go ahead with Shardul Thakur and Axar aligned with the team’s desire to attain as much balance as possible.
“We need to create that depth (in batting and bowling) as it was lacking in our team for the last few years. When we talk about depth in batting, that No. 9, No. 8 positions become very crucial. In the first game here (against Pakistan) we saw that we fell short in the backend. We want tailenders to contribute too. Another 10-15 runs in that game would have made a difference. It is the margin between winning and losing. We have spoken to them and told them to don that role too in the World Cup,” Rohit said.
Chief selector Ajit Agarkar, who was present at the press conference, expressed satisfaction over the fitness levels of Rahul.
“KL (Rahul) is looking good. We feel this gives us the best balance to try and do well. KL was part of the camp in Bangalore, and he looked really good there and has got over his niggle. He played a couple of games over the last two days (at NCA). He kept for 50 overs and batted for around 50 overs too, so we’re happy to have him,” said Agarkar.
Rohit said the team management will certainly explore the possibility of including both Rahul and in-form Ishan Kishan in the playing eleven.
“There will be possibilities. Everyone is available and fit to play. The selection depends on form and the opposition. It’s also about how the runs are scored. Kishan, how he played in the first game (in the Asia Cup), was brilliant. Given the situation, he did very well. So, it depends on fitness and situation,” said Rohit.
Former India spinner Harbhajan Singh was surprised by the exclusion of Chahal in the India squad and posted on social media X: “Surprise not to see @yuzi_chahal in the World Cup squad for Team India. Pure match winner.”
The India squad: Rohit Sharma (Captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul (wk), Ishan Kishan (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah.