ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023: Top contenders for 2023 ODI World Cup for India.
With the end of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022 in Australia, where India after some scratchy yet effective performances in the group stage were blown away in the semi-final against England, the whole focus of the national team has shifted towards the upcoming ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023 which is set to take place in less than a year from now in India.
The drought of an International Cricket Council (ICC) trophy for India continues as they still look back at their last ODI World Cup semi-final during 2019, where they faced an agonising defeat at the hands of New Zealand. But with the next ODI World Cup scheduled to be in India, the hosts have a great chance to repeat the glory of 2011 ODI World Cup.
In the last few One Day International (ODI) games, India have started to offer chances to young players in the absence of the senior players. In 39 ODIs since the 2019 World Cup, India have tried 44 players in this period, mostly because of injuries, workload management or other commitments of regular players in other formats. As a result, only six players have played 20 or more of those games.
Let’s take a look at the prospective preparation plan of India before the 2023 ODI World Cup.
Gill, Patidar, Tripathi among options at the top of the order
One of the main reasons for India to do well in both the last couple of ODI World Cups was someone from the top order scoring huge runs through the whole tournament. In the 2019 ODI World Cup, Rohit Sharma with 648 runs in nine innings was the highest run-getter of the competition; while in 2011, Sachin Tendulkar, the second highest run-scorer notched up 482 runs in nine innings. But the issue with India in all the tournaments is their lack of options when someone fails terribly at the top.
India have given Shubman Gill a lot of chances as an opener in the last few series when Rohit Sharma went on a break. Gill has grabbed the chances with both hands, as he has already recorded 629 runs in just 13 innings with four half-centuries and one century. He has also been quite aggressive in his ODI career with a strike rate of 100.44 and he always looks to take on the bowlers from the very first over which helps his partner in getting some time in the middle.
Apart from Gill, India have also kept their backup options ready in the form of Rahul Tripathi and Rajat Patidar. The latter who till now has scored 1648 runs in 51 List A games, has been in top-notch form in the recently finished Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2022 with 272 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 178.95, however, being with the national team, he hasn’t regularly been part of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (VHT) 2022-23.
On the other hand, Rahul Tripathi has been in great touch in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy where playing for Maharashtra, he has collected 512 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 99.22 and average of 128 with couple of centuries and three fifties. Coming as an opener, Tripathi has been dynamic during the whole competition scoring runs against good bowling attacks.
Therefore, with senior players like Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli being confirmed in the `top order, India will look to offer these three players - Gill, Tripathi and Patidar - most of the chances to settle themselves with the team environment and cement their places in the squad.
Read More: What’s wrong with Rishabh Pant in T20Is?
Iyer, Rahul, SKY, Samson among middle order options
One of the main problems for India in the last ODI World Cup was having no proper options at number 4 in the batting order. Till that horrific semi-final against New Zealand, they had no knowledge about who was going to be their number four batter. But in the upcoming ODI World Cup, India have several options in the middle order who have great techniques against spinners coming in the middle phase of the game.
Shreyas Iyer has been in superb form in this format of the game as in his last eight innings, he has registered five 50+ scores and one century, and most of those knocks have come at a wild strike rate of over 100. Iyer, coming at number four, can take on the spinners from the very first ball. He has got competition for this place with Suryakumar Yadav, who even after being phenomenal in the shortest format of the game, hasn’t cracked the 50-over formula yet at quite the same intensity as he only has a bank deposit of 378 runs in 14 ODI innings with just couple of half-centuries besides his name.
KL Rahul hasn’t played ODI cricket in the last four months, but he has been excellent for India at number four, scoring 1655 runs in 45 ODI games at a strike rate of 87.86. The place of Sanju Samson in the middle order too can help India in increasing the pace of innings as the Kerala batter showed the world in the home South Africa series last month. In just 11 ODI games, Samson has scored at a strike rate of 104.76 with two half-centuries, but he should be given more chances before the upcoming event. Left-hander Rishabh Pant too can be a great option in this phase with his aggressive batting.
Nonetheless, only two players from all these can get their place in the playing eleven, given Hardik Pandya is set to come at number five or six depending on the situation of the game. Pandya, being the seam bowling all-rounder of the side, has all abilities to tear the opponent bowling attack in the death overs besides doing the job of the sixth bowler with comparative ease.
Washington Sundar or Deepak Chahar to accompany Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja has been such a vital member of India’s squad, and his absence due to a knee injury is causing India a lot of grief in recent times. Jadeja’s batting abilities and his spin bowling in the middle overs, especially on those slow and low tracks of India, added up with his brilliance in the outfield is vital for India going into the World Cup; and he also brings the left-hand dimension in the game.
Washington Sundar, who is coming off from a long layoff due to injury, has begun well in this format of the game against New Zealand during the first ODI game of the ongoing series, where he nailed 37* runs in just 16 balls, playing some eye-catching shots to all corners of the field. Also, his ability to bowl those economical overs would be of essence for his country.
Deepak Chahar is another option in that phase; someone who has been superb with the new ball taking wickets along with the rare ability of playing match-winning knocks coming lower down in the order. Even though there are other few options like Axar Patel, Deepak Hooda, Shahbaz Ahmed and Shardul Thakur, India may look to find someone stable at that position and one of Sundar or Chahar can accompany Jadeja.
Kuldeep Sen, Umran Malik or Arshdeep Singh can find a place in the WC squad
Bowling has been one of the major issues for India in the last few months in both the formats of the white ball game. One of the main reasons for their exit from the recently concluded T20 World Cup 2022 has been their lack of options for taking wickets at regular intervals, and the absence of premier speedster Jasprit Bumrah due to a crippling back injury is making it tough for India.
With Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami being certainties in the bowling department, along with the leg spin of Yuzvendra Chahal, India may look for some different options in their bowling mix.
Kuldeep Sen who is currently the leading wicket-taker in VHT 2022-23, with 18 scalps in six innings at an economy rate of 5.34 and a strike rate of 14.2, can be a good option too given his expertise in hitting the deck hard with pace.
Left-arm pace bowler Arshdeep Singh can be a valuable option whereas someone like the tearaway quick Umran Malik could take wickets in the middle phase of the game, an area India are trying to sort out for a long time.
Now with less than a year left for the ICC Men’s ODI World Cup 2023, India should look to zero in on a pool of players and keep on giving them the most number of chances, so that they can gel as a team and perform to the best of their abilities.
After finishing the three-match ODI series against New Zealand on November 30 at the Hagley Oval in Christchurch, India will lock horns with Bangladesh in a three-match ODI series starting on December 4 at the Shere Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka.