Although the 12th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is entertaining cricket fans in the country, the ever growing anxiety and curiosity around the impending World Cup squad is probably at the forefront. As we all wait in eagerness, the selection committee led by MSK Prasad will convene on 15th April to announce the 15-man touring party to England.
While the Indian team appears reasonably settled, there are still a few spots up for grabs. In fact, debates have been running healthy amongst the fans and pundits lately. Furthermore, the ongoing IPL is only giving it more life and substance.
There is no secret that the toss up is likely to be between Dinesh Kartik and Rishabh Pant for the second wicket-keeper slot—with the latter being the favourite to nail it. The third opener’s birth is also there for the taking. But be that as it may, we hope the Indian selectors with inputs from skipper Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri will do the needful.
Away from the batting and wicket-keeping department, the bowling needs attention too. Perhaps, more given the lack of clarity on how the weather will hold in England. While India has established spinners, the seam department needs more cushioning despite the presence of leaders Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and the resurgent Mohammad Shami.
Unless the selectors stun as all, the core bowling line-up should comprise- Bumrah, Shami, Bhuvaneshwar and the three spinners (Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal & Kuldeep Yadav), along with Hardik Pandya’s seam-up option. So what’s in the reserve on the pace front?
With 12 players almost picking themselves, and two with their fates in the hands of selectors, there is only one more spot vacant, and the selectors will do well to pick another genuine pace bowler for the reasons mentioned below.
1) Regardless of the conditions in England, we expect the ball to seam and swing at regular intervals.
2) Old Adage: Bowlers will win more games than the other way around.
3) Bumrah, Shami and Bhuvi need a back-up for obvious reasons.
That said, do the selectors have options to pick from? The names of Umesh Yadav, Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur have been doing the rounds. But there is little to support their thinking. Here’s where the selectors can allow themselves to be a bit brave in picking the Karnataka seamer, Prasidh Krishna, who is currently opening the bowling for the Kolkata Knight Riders.
The 23-year-old seamer shot to fame in 2018 IPL, where he picked up 10 wickets in seven games for KKR. But, his exemplary execution in the Super Over against Delhi, two weeks ago earned him rich praises. The recent image by EspnCricinfo further proves how the youngster is holding his nerve in tense situations and responding to various needs by his team.
Prasidh further added, “They are looking at me to bowl anywhere in the game, because I do bowl (with) the new ball, I do bowl in the middle overs, I do bowl in the death. So yeah, they are depending on me to deliver."
No disputing the fact that performance in the IPL shouldn’t be the only prerequisite to finding a place in the national team. However, the calmness and skills demonstrated by Prasidh are not easy to ignore either. Having honed his skills at the MRF pace academy under Glenn McGrath and at the Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence under Jeff Thomson, Prasidh is certainly on the right track.
Besides operating with the new and old ball, Prasidh can also bowl in excess of 140kmph with regular seam movements, not to forget the disconcerting length he bowls, which can be a weapon in England. Finally, in a long tournament like the World Cup, it is imperative that India rotates its pacers to keep them fresh and injury-free.
While Prasidh is doing his bit, the selectors might still feel otherwise and resist any temptation. That said, the future looks bright for the Karnataka lad and who knows, we could all be in for surprise, come Monday.