India name 15-man World Cup squad, KL Rahul included but Sanju Samson snubbed

Written by Vishwas Gupta

India named a 15-man squad for the 2023 Cricket World Cup which begins on October 5. India play their first match of the tournament against Australia in Chennai on October 5. KL Rahul, who missed the first two Asia Cup matches due to a niggle, has been included in the side alongside Ishan Kishan.

All participating teams can make as many changes as they like till September 28, the deadline for finalising the squads.

India have had a tumultuous build-up to the World Cup and the state of confusion was perhaps highlighted in the Asia Cup squad selection. KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer, who were recovering from injuries, were named in the 17-member squad without any international cricket for months. Ajit Agarkar, the chief selector, conceded KL Rahul had a niggle and a few days later, Rahul Dravid confirmed the wicketkeeper-batsman would not travel to Sri Lanka for the first two matches of the Asia Cup against Pakistan and Nepal.

Rohit Sharma, the India captain said he was happy to deal with India’s problem of plenty.

“There are no surprises and you can get only 15 in. Some of the guys will be disappointed. I have gone through it and I know how it feels. We have good all-round options and this is best 15 we could get.

“I have not thought about plans yet. Problem of plenty is a good problem to have. We have to see who is in form and who our opposition is. We need to see what the best possible combination could be. If someone misses out, then so be it. This keeps happening. You have to make tough calls for the team,” Rohit said in a press conference.

“We have to create the batting depth. Obviously, Nos 8 and 9 become crucial when it comes to batting depth. We fell a little short at the backend with the bat. Their job is not just to bowl the opposition out, but also to score some runs. 10 or 15 runs could be the difference between winning and losing. While speaking about all these things, you need to think about these things.

“We are even prepared to fix something that is not broken. I have to use my resources the best way I can. You got to see what the conditions are. Six bowlers cannot bowl 10 overs each, you have to see what suits which bowler that day. There will be times where spinners will not bowl their full quota of 20 overs.” he added.

Meanwhile, Tilak Varma was also included in the Asia Cup squad on the back of his impressive performances in the T20I series in West Indies last month. However, he was not named in the World Cup side. Suryakumar Yadav, who has struggled in the ODI format despite his monstrous run in T20 Internationals, retained his place in the squad.

India have been fairly successful in ODI World Cups since their exit in the group stages in 2007. After winning the World Cup at home in 2011, India reached the semifinals of the 2015 and 2019 editions. However, the pressure has increased manifold on the Indian team which last won an ICC event a decade ago.

Moreover, India have not been at their best in the ODI format. They lost a bilateral series in Bangladesh late last year and despite winning back-to-back series against Sri Lanka and New Zealand, India were no match for Australia. India did win the ODI series against West Indies but they also lost a match to a team which failed to qualify for the World Cup.

Prasidh Krishna and Tilak Varma were the two players from the Asia Cup squad who could not make the cut to the World Cup team. Sanju Samson, who was named as travelling stand-by, was also overlooked for the World Cup squad.

KL Rahul, who was named in India’s World Cup squad, will soon join the Indian team for the Super Four stage of the Asia Cup. Rahul has not played international cricket since March this year but his role in the middle-order is an important one. However, over the last few weeks, Ishan Kishan has cemented his place in the XI. He scored three fifties in as many ODIs against West Indies and then hit a stylish 82 against Pakistan, batting at No.5. That innings against one of the best pace attacks in the world earned Ishan Kishan rave reviews and it now remains to be seen where KL Rahul can fit into the XI.

Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill and Virat Kohli select themselves while Ishan Kishan has made it virtually impossible for the team management to leave him out. Shreyas Iyer, who is also making a return to international cricket after several months, batted against Pakistan but got out cheaply. Against Nepal, Rohit and Gill scored unbeaten half-centuries as India chased down the revised target without losing a wicket.

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Vishwas Gupta