India World Cup Squad 2019: Ambati Rayudu, Rishabh Pant and other notable omissions from 15-man contingent

  • Rohit Sankar
  • April 16th, 2019
  • 15:11:01 IST

India named their 15-man squad for the 2019 World Cup in England on Monday with the selectors opting to go for stability and experience in their bid to win the trophy. With most players picking themselves in the squad, the job of the selectors was to fix those final few spots which were under debate and in the end, they have made their choices and the ones omitted are left to sulk or retrospect on their performances.

Here we take a glance at the most notable omissions from India's World Cup squad.

Ambati Rayudu failed to nail his World Cup spot down in the recent chances that were offered to him. AFP

Ambati Rayudu failed to nail his World Cup spot down in the recent opportunities, scoring just 90 runs in 10 ODIs in 2019. AFP

Ambati Rayudu

Numbers since 2018 in ODIs: Matches – 21; Runs – 639; Average – 42.6; Strike Rate – 84.07

Zeroed in as the saviour to India’s problems with the No 4 spot last year, Rayudu’s dwindling form meant he missed out on the World Cup flight.

"With Rayudu coming in and playing well in the Asia Cup, it's about giving him enough game time till the World Cup so that the particular slot (No 4) will be sorted for us. He (Rayudu) is designed to play that middle-order batsman's role. We feel that our middle order is more or less balanced now," skipper Virat Kohli had said in October last year.

In IPL 2018, Rayudu had made 600-plus runs for Chennai Super Kings and was promptly picked in the Indian team. In Kohli’s absence in the Asia Cup, Rayudu racked up 175 runs at an average of 43.75 from six games. But since then his form has gone down and it eventually led to his ouster from the team.

What affected his chances?

Two factors affected Rayudu’s chances. One is the emergence of Vijay Shankar, which meant India finally had a reliable batsman who could bowl seam in the top six. The second was Rayudu’s own form. While his numbers since 2018 look impressive, since 2019, he had made only 90 runs in 10 ODIs. The last nail on the coffin has been a pathetic performance in the ongoing IPL season where he has made runs at an average of 19.71.

Siddarth Kaul

Numbers since 2018 in ODIs: Matches – 3; Wickets – 0; Economy – 6.62

India chose to avoid a fourth frontline seamer in their World Cup squad and went for the additional all-rounder in Ravindra Jadeja. What it meant was that Siddarth Kaul, who has recently been in and out of the setup, missed out on a chance to go to England.

While Kaul has played only three ODIs in his career so far, he had been part of the squad on and off, and given his death bowling skills, was a decent shout for that fourth seamer’s spot.

What affected his chances?

Kaul’s chances were dented by his lack of wickets and high economy at international level and in the IPL. While impressive IPL seasons in 2017 and 2018 saw him take 16 and 21 wickets respectively, an economy well above 8 meant there was scrutiny on him.

This year, in the six matches he played, Kaul took just six wickets while conceding runs at 8.43. That said, even if he had done extremely well, it is unlikely he would have squeezed in ahead of other fast bowling competitors. In the end, India never planned on taking a fourth seamer and that pegged his chances back.

Navdeep Saini

The closest Navdeep Saini has got to the national squad is when he was named in the Test team for the one-off Test against Afghanistan last year. He did not play that match though, and has not been named since. However, his stocks have risen incredibly in the last few months.

An India A regular, Saini roared into contention in the ongoing IPL season with his impressive pace and control for Royal Challengers Bangalore. He has consistently hit the 150 kmph mark this season in the IPL and has also bowled 78 dot balls, the third most, in the season.

What affected his chances?

Saini was a long shot for the World Cup anyhow, but with the pace and carry he was generating, Saini was seen as an x-factor in the World Cup squad named by many experts. Several former players including Sourav Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, Akash Chopra and Michael Clarke had backed his inclusion for the fourth seamer’s spot in the World Cup team since the other contenders tried hadn’t impressed. However, India chose to cover this conundrum up by picking extra all-rounders in Vijay Shankar and Ravindra Jadeja. Saini might still travel with the squad as an emergency back-up.

Rishabh Pant

Numbers since 2018 in ODIs: Matches – 5; Runs – 93; Average – 23.25; Strike Rate – 130.98; Catches – 5; Stumpings – 0

Rishabh Pant was a surprise omission from the World Cup squad, given how well he had done in the IPL and in Test cricket away from home. The No 1 Test keeper now, Pant hadn’t played too many ODIs but is a match-winner in his own right. With Dinesh Karthik’s finishing skills predominantly being in T20Is and his ODI form not that impressive, Pant appeared to be certainty for the World Cup.

He is the second highest run-scorer in the IPL since the beginning of last season with over 900 runs, second only to KL Rahul. This and the x-factor he carries were deemed good enough to push him into that flight for England. However, the selectors banked on experience eventually and also cited Karthik’s keeping skills was a factor in the selection.

"It's definitely a case which we have debated at length and all of us in unison felt that either Rishabh Pant or DK [Karthik] will only come into the playing XI if Mahi (Dhoni) is injured. If it is a crucial match, like a quarter-final or a semi-final or like an important game, wicket-keeping also matters. So that's the only reason that we went ahead with Dinesh Karthik. Otherwise Rishabh Pant was almost there,” chairman of selectors, MSK Prasad, said at the press conference where the squad was announced.

What affected his chances?

While Prasad pointed at Pant’s glovework and Karthik’s experience, what might have eventually tilted the balance away from Pant is his recklessness in the ongoing IPL season. In six of the eight matches the Delhi Capitals have played so far — including four run-chases —  Pant was dismissed after the 16th over. Given that he is likely to slot in down the order if picked, the inability to finish off games at IPL level could have cost him.

Khaleel Ahmed

Numbers since 2018 in ODIs: Matches – 8; Wickets – 11; Economy – 5.36; Average – 30.72

Khaleel Ahmed had come into the Indian team and impressed right away with his new-ball bowling. Adding a left-arm variation to the attack, Khaleel seemed to have nailed down that fourth seamer’s spot until the tour of Australia and New Zealand happened.

The nippy pace and late movement he offered made him a good option to have for the skipper. What his presence also meant was that India could use more of Jasprit Bumrah in the death with Khaleel and Bhuvneshwar manning the new ball overs. But the joy was short-lived as his performances declined in overseas conditions.

What affected his chances?

He went wicketless in the two ODIs he played — one in Australia and the other in New Zealand – while going at over 6 runs an over. In the six T20Is he played on both tours combined, his economy was over 10 and his wicket-taking ability was also under question. Despite a last-ditch effort on Sunday with a 3/30 in his first match for Sunrisers Hyderabad this season in the IPL, Khaleel wasn’t picked in the team. He could still travel with the squad as a back-up.

Updated Date: April 16, 2019 15:11:01 IST

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