With the World Cup set to commence in June, most teams have still not been able to pin down a definite 15-man squad. This article explores the guaranteed inclusions, and the spots that are up for grabs in every nations squad.
Probable Squad- Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Mohammad Shami, Vijay Shankar
For a team as successful as India, one would imagine that they would go into the World Cup with a relatively settled lineup. However, this has not been the case for two reasons. Their middle order remains brittle despite the management tinkering with a wide variety of combinations. There could be room for some emergency changes here, with Karthik suffering a dip in form and Hardik Pandya suffering his share of injuries and controversies. Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, and Dhoni have all been solid in recent series’, rendering themselves indispensable. Rishabh Pant has been in an out of the squad, and could capitalise on a chance if it came his way. Between him and Karthik though, the latter seems to have cemented his place despite recent form. Pandya too looks likely to hold his own on the field having recently gotten into trouble off of it. Another spot is being contested by KL Rahul and Vijay Shankar. The latter’s all-round abilities make him a better fit in a team packed with top order batsmen like KL. However, performances and chances could make a difference in the run-up to the tournament.
India’s bowling lineup has been fairly settled, with an abundance of spin giving their management a good headache. Bhuvi, Shami, and Chahal are guaranteed starters, while Kuldeep Yadav can float in and out of the team depending on whether Jadhav plays. Jadeja and Shankar are other all-round options who can come into the team and play as pinch-hitters lower in the order.
Probable Squad- Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh, Marcus Stoinis, Alex Carey, Glenn Maxwell, Usman Khawaja, D’ Arcy Short, Peter Handscomb, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon, Adam Zampa, Jhye Richardson, Pat Cummins, Ashton Turner
The void left by the bans of Steve Smith and David Warner have forced responsibility on the shoulders of any youngster who would be willing to accept it. In the aftermath, nobody has established themselves as rocks to build a team around, with several candidates enjoying varying degrees of success. Aaron Finch has looked very rusty in recent outings, but as captain he need not worry about his spot. Shaun Marsh has seen a resurgence, showing many glimpses of the potential he never fully actualised. Stoinis, Carey, and Maxwell have likewise been relatively reliable throughout, cementing their places in the squad. The remaining two spots are the points of contention in the starting eleven. Peter Handscomb, Chris Lynn, D’ Arcy Short, and Usman Khawaja are all vying for them. Lynn’s exclusion from the tour to India could make it difficult for him to regain his spot before the World Cup, while Head has been dropped after a disappointing series against South Africa. Still, like with India, performances could change a lot.
Australia’s bowling lineup has been riddled with injuries recently. But when fit, three of the four bowlers are pre-determined. Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins, and Zampa/Lyon along with Stoinis is the first choice lineup, but with injuries to first two, Jhye Richardson and Behrendorff have had to fill in. Coulter-Nile and Richardson have also been called up for the series against India, making them potential contenders for the replacement spots.
Probable Squad- Jason Roy, Johnny Bairstow, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Tom Curran, Sam Curran, Joe Denly.
Besides being the home side, England’s balanced squad is a huge factor behind their front-runner status for the World Cup. The have Jason Roy and Johnny Bairstow/Alex Hales to open, followed by Root, and Morgan. Stokes, Ali, and Woakes all function as all rounders, with Wood, Plunkett, and Rashid supporting them in the bowling department. This lineup has worked very well for England in recent times, and if it isn’t broken, there is no need to change it.
While the playing eleven is more or less settled, some uncertainty looms over the bench. Joe Denly has been a recent addition to the fray, but he is yet to be given a chance after inclusion against Sri Lanka and West Indies. Barring a major injury, he will likely be surplus to requirements. His sub-par performances in the recent Big Bash are worth mentioning as well. Tom Curran has floated in and out of the side when needed to rotate with one of the pacers, and is a reliable backup option going into the World Cup. There is one more pacer slot empty, with David Willey and Sam Curran both vying for it. Curran has been expensive in recent outings, opening the door for Willey to make a comeback.
Probable Squad- Colin Munro, Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell
New Zealand represent another case of the starting eleven being more or less settled. Munro and Guptil open the innings, with Williamson and Taylor following. Either of Latham and Seifert fills in as the keeper, with Nicholls cementing his spot in the middle order as well. Depending on strategy, James Neesham might also find himself in the line-up as an all-round option instead of a pure bowler. As for the bowlers, Trent Boult and Southee will undoubtedly spearhead the attack, with Santner and Sodhi viable spin options. Other pacers in the fray are Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Doug Bracewell.
These fifteen are all likely to make it to the World Cup, with perhaps two contentions. Colin de Grandhomme could make his way into the squad in place of either Seifert or Neesham, though the former is more likely. Neesham’s all-round abilities will add much more to the squad than another keeper-batsman. Todd Astle could also force his way back into the team in place of Ish Sodhi, but the latter looks more likely of making the final list.
Probable Squad- Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Reeza Hendricks, Francois du Plessis, Heinrich Klaasen, David Miller, Aiden Markram, Rassie van dur Dussen, Andile Phehlukwayo, Imran Tahir, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Tabraiz Shamsi, Lungi Ngidi, Dwaine Pretorius/ Beuran Hendricks
South Africa’s batting lineup has been quite stable in their last few series’. Their main headaches concern the bowling attack. Amla and de Kock are likely to open, with Reeza at three, du Plessis at four, and Klaasen and Miller at five and six. There is some room for flexibility here, with Markram and van dur Dussen ready to step into the middle order if required. However, the bowling attack is flooded with options. As many as twelve candidates are fighting for the remaining seven spots.
Of these, only Andile Phehlukwayo, Imran Tahir and Kagiso Rabada seem to have cemented their spots in the squad. Dale Steyn is unlikely to miss out on a swan-song World Cup before he hangs his boots. Tabraiz Shamsi will likely be the backup spinner to Tahir. For the three spots left, Duanne Oliver, Anrich Nortje, Dwaine Pretorius, Wiaan Mulder, Lungi Ngidi, Beuran Hendricks, Dane Paterson and Chris Morris are all in the reckoning. Of these, Lungi Ngidi will likely pull through after a spate of injuries. However, Chris Morris, who has historically been favoured in the national team, might just miss out given his inconsistency that has prevented him from being a marquee player for his sides. Nortje’s inexperience leaves his chances close to nil barring a miracle. Either of Pretorius and Hendricks look likely to snap up the remaining spot, but as has become cliche, performances could change things quickly.
Probable Squad- Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis, Kieran Powell, Shai Hope, Marlon Samuels, Shimron Hetmeyer, Andre Russell, Rovman Powell, Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, Shannon Gabriel, Sunil Narine, Devendra Bishoo, Roston Chase
West Indies have a few doubts at the top of their order. Chris Gayle’s successful return at 39 has guaranteed that the World Cup will be his last foray into international cricket. Debutant John Campbell has shown promise, but Evin Lewis is certain to partner Gayle once he is back from injury. Kieran Powell is likely to be included as backup. Shai Hope has rendered himself indispensable to this team, and will come in at three, followed by Samuels, Hetmeyer, and Andre Russell. Hetmeyer has been impressive in his relatively young career, scoring four centuries in just twenty two games. Either of Rovman Powell, Darren Bravo, or Roston Chase will also be required as insurance for the middle order.
The Windies have a plethora of options in the bowling department. Jason Holder, Kemar Roach, Keemo Paul, and Shannon Gabriel are likely to be the four pacers in the squad. Sunil Narine/Ashley Nurse and Devendra Bishoo will be the two spinners. The Windies can either go with an extra bowler in the form of Oshane Thomas, or choose one more from Powell, Bravo and Chase.
Probable Squad- Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza, Mustafizur Rahman, Liton Das, Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, Mahmadullah, Sabbir Rahman, Mehidy Hasan, Rubel Hossain, Mohammad Mithun, Mohammad Saifuddin, Shafiul Islam
The whitewash suffered against New Zealand leaves the selectors with a tough dilemma, that of tinkering or sticking with the formula. Their squad has several familiar names that are unlikely to be dropped. Tamim Iqbal, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Mashrafe Mortaza, and Mustafizur Rahman form the core of this team. At the top of the order, Iqbal will most likely open alongside Liton Das. Two of Mominul Haque, Soumya Sarkar, and Imrul Kayes will be included in the squad as the number three slot. Kayes’ horrendous run against the Windies will likely rule him out of the race, with Sarkar most likely to start, and Haque making the bench. Shakib, Mushfiqur, and Mahmadullah will form the middle order. Sabbir Rahman and Mehidy Hasan’s all-round abilities have been a boon to Bangladesh over the years, they will both retain their spots.
Mortaza, Mustafizur, and Rubel Hossain will form the pace triplet, with Hasan and al Hasan the spinning options. Mohammad Mithun and Mohammad Saifuddin’s promising performances in the series against New Zealand has greatly strengthened their chances of being included as reserves. The fifteenth spot is open to a number of obscure candidates, the most prominent one being pacer Shafiul Islam. He would make a reasonable addition to the squad given that Bangladesh have all other bases covered.
Probable Squad- Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Dhananjaya de Silva, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Dasun Shanaka, Angelo Mathews, Lasith Malinga, Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan, Dushmantha Chameera, Akila Dananjaya
Considerable uncertainty looms over the Sri Lankan squad given their performance and selection in recent series’. Starting from the top, the Lankans have a host of options. Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Sadeera Samawickrama, Dhananjaya de Silva, and Upul Tharanga are all vying for spots. Dickwella, de Silva, and Gunathilaka are more flexible options who can also bat lower down the order, increasing their chances of inclusion. Tharanga is also likely to get the nod based on his vast experience. Kusal Perera, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal, and Thisara Perera have more or less cemented their spots as well. Dasun Shanaka will likely be the backup middle order batsman, while Mathews will be reintegrated once he returns from injury.
Lasith Malinga will lead the attack as captain. Nuwan Pradeep, Lakshan Sandakan, and Dushmantha Chameera are likely to be the other pacers in the squad. The Lankans have three spinning options to choose from: Akila Dananjaya, Sekkuge Prasanna, and Asela Gunaratne and one spot to fill. Of the three Dananjaya is the likeliest to be included given his experience.
Sri Lanka have announced several changes departing from this set of players for the series against South Africa, so it remains to be seen which squad they opt to for the World Cup.
Probable squad- Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Usman Shinwari, Mohammad Rizwan, Haris Sohail
Pakistan have one of the most settled squads in the tournament, perhaps on-par with England. They have settled on an efficient combination that makes them a dangerous team. Imam-ul-Haq opens with Fakhar Zaman, followed by Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, and Sarfaraz Ahmed. At least two of Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim, and Hasan Ali always start. Pakistan have Mohammad Amir and Faheem Ashraf in the pace department. Shaheen Afridi is a raw, young option as well.
While the first twelve are quite firmly in place, the remaining three slots are up for grabs. Pakistan desperately need a backup batsman, and they do not have an established name ready to come in. Mohammad Rizwan, Asif Ali, and Haris Sohail are three contenders. They also have two pace options in Junaid Khan and Usman Shinwari, at least one of whom will be included.
Afghanistan’s recent promotion to the cricketing elite makes them the undisputed dark horses of the tournament. Given their infrequent international appearances, analysing their squad can only rely on past trends. They do boast of some players who have impressed during the IPL. Rashid Khan in particular has achieved massive success since bursting onto the scene. Along with him, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi are also constants in the squad. Owing to this, Afghanistan have a surprisingly potent spin attack. Besides them, captain Asghar Afghan, and opener Hazratullah Zazai, who recently scored 162 in a T20 nobody else is certain to retain a spot in the squad.