No surprise if Axar gets nod ahead of Jadeja in XI: Aakash Chopra

Jan 07, 2015, 15:49 IST | Aakash Chopra

If a layman can predict accurately 14 out of the 15 members selected to the India squad, it's a huge thumb's up for the selection committee. That's exactly how the selection for the World Cup has turned out to be this time around.

Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja 

India has picked three openers, three middle order batsmen, three spinners, four fast bowlers and one all-rounder. The tri-series leading up to the World Cup will decide who the two openers will be, for there are three contenders for the two slots. One of the two Mumbaikars Rohit or Rahane will partner Dhawan at the top.

Kohli, Raina and Dhoni will form the batting order till Number 6. With the kind of form Raina has displayed this season along with Dhoni's ability to finish games, India possesses one of the most explosive batting in the lower middle-order. India can turn to Rayudu for the back-up middle order and for wicket-keeping as well, if there's a serious lack of form or injury.

Both Ashwin and Jadeja had been the frontrunners for the two slots kept for spinners and it would've remained that way had Axar Patel not gatecrashed to juggle the combination. Now, he's become the third spinner and it won't come as a surprise if he gets the nod ahead of Jadeja in a few games.

If the conditions are true for batting, Indian spinners will have to punch a lot above their weight, for India's biggest downfall in New Zealand and South Africa was the lack of wickets in the middle overs. Tired pitches towards the end of the tournament might bring the Indian spinners back into the game. But till then, it will be an uphill task for them to force the issue.

India's strength
Medium pace bowling has never been India's strength and it's not going to change in this World Cup either. India has picked four frontline seamers in Ishant, Shami, Umesh and Bhuvneshwar. While two new balls, one from each end will ensure that the likes of Bhuvneshwar and Shami create early inroads; their death bowling will come under severe scrutiny, once again.

Dhoni doesn't have a single gun death bowler who he could turn to in adversity. For the Indian bowlers conceding 8-9 an over for the last 10 is a norm and it might hurt India's chances on pitches where 270-280 is a par score.

Obvious choices
Most of the 14 members made for obvious choices making this a rather straightforward selection. Still, there was one spot that needed a bit of debate — the not so irrelevant 15th member. Selectors have picked Stuart Binny for this spot for his all-round abilities.

While it's somewhat understandable why the selectors voted in his favor, I'm not too excited about the prospects of this selection. In the current scenario, the ODI rule of not having more than 4 fielders outside the circle reduces the role of bits and pieces players, and that's why Binny's selection merits a debate.

Increasingly the game is becoming a game of specialists and that's why I would've preferred either Aaron or Mohit as a back-up seam bowling option. Dhoni has rarely used Binny as a bowler, which might mean that India will be forced to pick their final XI from the 14 and not 15.

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