CHENNAI: The 2019 World Cup in England and Wales is still two years away. But it is a significant period. It is the time in which teams chalk out the road-map, keeping the World Cup in mind. The Champions Trophy gave the selectors and the team-management an idea about where the team stands and where it should head in two years time as India look for a third World Cup.
As much as the selectors deserve every bit of credit for churning out a Test squad with forward-looking thoughts, there is no denying the fact that the limited-overs sides need an injection of fresh blood. Despite making it to the final of the Champions Trophy, this side as skipper Virat Kohli said, plays the sort of boring cricket that on days — like the final at the Oval — can backfire, if two among the top-three fail to make it big. In Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, they have two players, who nobody knows for sure, whether they will be in a position to play the next World Cup.
Not that India doesn’t have the sort of players who can add firepower to this side. As the recent A series in South Africa showed, India have options in Manish Pandey, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant, who all are capable of playing an aggressive brand of cricket that can instil fear among the oppositions. The limited-overs tour to the West Indies provided an opportunity to test the bench strength, but the selectors persisted with the same side. And now with an ODI series against Sri Lanka awaiting them, selectors have the opportunity to discuss the much talked-about bench strength.
But if one goes by the indications, the squad for the ODI series, will more or less resemble the same that played in West Indies barring the inclusion of two spinners — Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin. Dhoni, Yuvraj, Kedar Jadhav, Jasprit Bumrah all appeared at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru for fitness tests, meaning they are sure choices to fly to Colombo to join the rest of the squad after the third Test.
Beginning in Sri Lanka, the team has limited-overs series lined up against Australia, New Zealand and Sri Lanka again at home, and if there is a perfect time to try out the fringe players, this provides a glorious opportunity. 16 ODIs is a huge number to accommodate at least three-four players, but if the selectors resist with the same set, then the two years might seem as a period gone celebrating some meaningless series wins over some much coveted prizes.