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A Team of the Best Players Not Playing the 2019 World Cup

As the World Cup 2019 approaches, most of the ten participating teams have thrown some surprises in terms of their squad selections. Veterans have been left out in favor of players’ most recent form. The IPL has been one of the major factors in influencing the decisions of selectors. This article compiles a team of players who were unlucky to miss out on the flight to England. Teams can still make changes to their squads ahead of the World Cup, so some of the players from this list might end up earning a spot in their squads after all.

Batsmen

1)Ajinkya Rahane

While deep surprise has been expressed at the exclusion of players like Ambati Rayudu, Khaleel Ahmed, etc., Ajinkya Rahane has perhaps been the unluckiest to miss out. He averages about 35 in all ODIs, and could have provided some solidity in the middle order. He has scored 393 runs in the IPL this year. The burden of captaincy affected his run-scoring in the first half of the tournament, but since Steve Smith took over, he has scored well, and at a good pace too. These performances include a 105* against Delhi Capitals, one of the best bowling lineups in the tournament. While T20s can only suggest so much about ODI success, Rahane has been in good form in the IPL. He was dropped from the Indian team prior to the IPL due to his slow scoring rate, but there is a strong case to be made for his selection over someone like Dinesh Karthik, who has been woefully out of form and is a third finisher in a team with Dhoni and Pandya.

2) Alex Hales

Alex Hales has come under heavy criticism in recent weeks for a second violation of rules owing to his recreational drug use. Having initially been picked, he was unceremoniously dropped after a 21 day ban that had not been known to the selectors was discovered. In the aftermath of the fallout, captain Eoin Morgan has slammed the opener, claiming that he has lost the trust of the team, while Joe Root has said that his exclusion has unified the team. The ECB has surely been clamping down on bad behavior from its players and off-field distractions before entering a tournament in which they are being considered favorites. The question of whether he deserved the ban for recreational drug use can only be answered personally, but the destructive batsman will surely be missed. He averages 37 in all ODIs, and with the tournament being held in England, he is the second unlucky player to miss out on a World Cup spot.

3) Dinesh Chandimal

Chandimal is one of the aforementioned veterans who was dropped due to poor recent performances. He has played close to 150 ODIs for Sri Lanka, scoring 3600 runs at an average of approximately 32. He has been scoring at a similar rate in the past year. While 32 is not the best average for a batsman of his quality, his experience at the number 3 position could have been vital for a weak Sri Lankan team. He last played an ODI in Jan, where he scored 3 from 12 balls.

4) Peter Handscomb

The end of the ban on Steve Smith and David Warner has resulted in them being swiftly reintroduced into the Australian squad. One of the players to miss out as a result is Peter Handscomb, who will be extremely disappointed to miss out despite excellent performances against India. He scored a century and crossed 40 twice against India, and had a decent series against Pakistan as well with scores of 30* and a 47. Picking Steve Smith over him was a tricky choice, given Smith’s dodgy form in the IPL, but in this case, quality has clearly trumped recent form.

5) Kieron Pollard

Kieron Pollard has mainly made his fame in the T20 format through his big-hitting, spectacular fielding, and his once indispensable bowling too. However, he only averages 25 in all ODIs. Without his bowling, many felt it justified that he be excluded over the likes of Andre Russell, who can also do all three. But the inclusion of Carlos Brathwaite means that the Windies might have missed a trick. While Brathwaite is an all-rounder, his average with the bat is only 14.4 in all ODIs. His bowling average is 43, making him an untrustworthy choice with the ball. Pollard is the kind of player who can win you matches single-handedly once in a while, a capability he has proved far more often than Brathwaite.

6) Rishabh Pant

Pant is perhaps the most surprising exclusion from the squad. His youth has raised questions about his suitability in a crunch World Cup on the fast-paced tracks of England, but he has proved to be of remarkable quality in his relatively short career. He scored 488 runs in this year’s IPL, his big-hitting a huge asset for the Delhi Daredevils. While his destructive batting casts some shadow over his ability to build an innings, he has proved his doubters wrong through his performances in Test cricket. He averages 49 in 15 innings’, with a high score of 159*. His performances in the IPL have renewed calls for his inclusion in the World Cup squad, and he will surely be the first one to get a call up in case of an injury.

Bowlers

7) Ravichandran Ashwin

Ashwin has not been a part of India’s ODI set up since Jun 2017, and it is unclear quite why. He has taken 150 wickets in 109 ODIs, with an economy of around 5. He is an intelligent bowler who can consistently outwit batsmen, and his batting abilities could be handy lower down the order. Kuldeep Yadav’s miserable IPL season has not seen him lose his place in the squad. Despite his usually expensive figures, his wicket taking abilities are expected to compensate for them, but they simply haven’t in recent weeks. In contrast, Ashwin has taken 15 wickets over an IPL where his team finished last. Yadav has taken only 4, though he in lesser matches since he was dropped for the later third of the tournament. If Yadav’s poor form continues, the Indians might just regret not picking Ashwin.

8) Chris Morris

Morris is the second player on this list, along with Chandimal, who have never really been able to actualize their immense talent. For a bowler, his batting average of 19.6 is more than decent. He averages as much as Ashwin in ODIs, going at about 40, which translates into a wicket per match. Despite his decent figures, he is perhaps the least unlucky player on this list not be playing the World Cup, at least initially. South Africa have great variety in their pace department, and with Morris approaching 32, he is past his prime. He has had a mixed IPL season, taking 13 wickets in 9 games, albeit at an economy of over 9. An injury to Anrich Nortje means that he was eventually included into the squad, but if Nortje was fit, Moris would most likely miss out, somewhat unluckily so.

9) David Willey

The inclusion of Jofra Archer has forced David Willey to make way. The former has made a name for himself as an express pace bowler who can contain batsmen consistently in an age where even edges go for a six. The Archer saga has been much popularised in media, with reports that he was deliberately excluded from the preliminary squad to motivate the rest of England’s bowlers to perform. Wiley has good reason to be disappointed, given his comparatively extensive experience in ODIs, while Archer is a more of a T20 specialist. His ability to maintain a low economy while regularly picking wickets over 10 overs a game as opposed to 4 are suspect. He only made his ODI debut this month. Willey, on the other hand, has performed well across all formats in his career. He has taken 52 wickets in 45 ODIs, 34 wickets from 28 T20s, and 167 wickets from 66 First class games. While Archer has performed excellently in T20s, a failure in the World Cup could leave England regretting another controversial decision.

10) Usman Shinwari

Even coach Mickey Arthur has conceded that Shinwari has not done much wrong and was unlucky to miss out on a World Cup spot. He has excellent figures in ODI cricket, having taken 28 wickets in 15 innings at an economy of 5. He has had a decent Big Bash League as well, averaging a wicket per match. His express pace could have well been an asset for Pakistan, but his exclusion has simply been dumbfounding.

11) Akila Dananjaya

Dananjaya’s recent ban due to an illegal bowling action has Pakistan wary of another slip-up, despite his ban being lifted in February. The experienced mystery spinner has lost out to novice Vandersay, despite having taken 48 wickets in 32 innings’. Sri Lanka are undergoing a tough phase in their cricketing history, and are willing to experiment for results. However, excluding Dananjaya may be a cause for regret depending on how Vandersay performs.

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