The 12th edition of the ICC Cricket World Cup is all set to take place in England and Wales from May 30 to June 14. And with only less than four months to go for the international championship of ODI cricket, the teams are looking for the perfect combination. They are treating the last few ODIs before the event for the experimentation as April 23 has been set the deadline to submit the squads.
Meanwhile, the Indian chief selector MSK Prasad has confirmed that the core of the Men in Blue for the World Cup has been finalised barring an odd place or two.
Prasad also showered heavy praise on Rishabh Pant, terming him as one of the strongest contenders followed by Vijay Shankar and Ajinkya Rahane, whom the selectors are still considering to fill the remaining spots in India’s World Cup squad.
“Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention,” Prasad told ESPNCricinfo. “A healthy headache. The progression of Rishabh in the last one year is phenomenal across the formats. What we actually felt is he needs a bit of maturity now, gain more experience. That is the reason we have included him in India A series wherever possible.”
Pant is set to face tough competition from Rahane who despite not playing an ODI for more than 12 months, has been in very good form in List A cricket.
Rahane has scored 597 runs in 11 innings at an average of 74.62 with two big hundreds and three fifties. Two of those fifties came recently for India A in the unofficial ODI series against England Lions in Thiruvananthapuram last month. His experience at the top of the order can also come in handy in English conditions. “In domestic cricket, Rahane has been in form,” Prasad said. “He is very much in contention for the World Cup.”
Another player who the selectors are keeping an eye on is batting all-rounder Vijay Shankar. Despite not being in contention for a World Cup berth for the major part of 2018, Shankar has suddenly jumped the queue with his performance in the recently-concluded limited overs series in New Zealand. His 64-ball 45-run knock in bowler friendly conditions at Wellington earned him a No. 3 spot in the three-match T20I series.
Shankar scored 83 runs in the T20 series with a sparkling 43 off 28 balls in the final game at Hamilton. “In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skill sets required at this level. We have been grooming him through India A tours in the last two years. But we will have to see where he can fit in the dynamics of this team,” Prasad added.