Amidst much speculation, the BCCI today announced Team India's squad for the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 to be held in England and Wales this summer. India's selection committee led by chief selector MSK Prasad termed it a strong and balanced squad that covers all bases.
Virat Kohli will lead the 15-man squad and the notable names include newbie Vijay Shankar as well as the experienced wicket-keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik. Meanwhile, Ambati Rayudu and youngster Rishabh Pant remain the major absentees from the Men in Blue's squad for the quadrennial event.
Karnataka batsman KL Rahul has been included as the reserve opener in spite of his inconsistency with the bat in the 50-over format.
With New Zealand and Australia announcing their squads already, India became the third team to name their 15-man World Cup squad. While the showpiece event kicks off on May 30th with hosts England taking on South Africa, India begin their campaign against South Africa at Southampton on June 5th.
Though this Indian squad looks strong and challenging, you can't help but wonder how different it is from the 2015 World Cup squad, and whether those players could have made a difference in 2019.
Here's a look at five players from the 2015 World Cup squad who might be missed this summer:
Team India's 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup Squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Kuldeep Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Vijay Shankar, KL Rahul, Dinesh Karthik.
5. Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav, who was one of the strong contenders for India's fourth pace bowler spot in this year's World Cup squad, was one of the star performers with the ball for the MS Dhoni-led Indian side at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. With his fiery pace, Yadav was India's leading wicket-taker (third overall) in that tournament with 18 wickets in eight matches, with his best figures being 4/31.
Yadav was instrumental in India's dominant bowling display throughout the World Cup which led them to a semi-final finish. But inconsistent performances in the past few months made it difficult for the Vidarbha pacer to make the cut.
Nevertheless, the experience and bowling credentials of Yadav will be missed by Team India this summer.
4. Ajinkya Rahane
Ajinkya Rahane, who last played an ODI back in February 2018, was perceived as a player who could don the role of both the reserve opener and the number four batsman in the World Cup squad. But the Mumbaikar, who made 208 runs in eight matches with his highest score being 79 during the 2015 World Cup, could not make the final 15-man squad for this year's event.
A stylish and reliable player, Rahane is someone who can provide stability to the batting line-up. The vice-captain of the Indian Test team will be missed at the 2019 World Cup given his batting credentials.
3. Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin was one of the vital cogs in the Indian bowling unit at the 2015 World Cup. The Tamil Nadu player, who was the primary spinner for Dhoni's men across formats, is now being selected only for Test matches.
Ashwin made a mark in the 2015 tournament by picking up 13 wickets in eight matches with his best figures being 4/25.
The Kings XI Punjab skipper was brilliant with both bat and ball against England (away) in Tests last year. Meanwhile Yuzvendra Chahal, who has replaced Ashwin in the limited overs side, struggled in England last year with just two wickets in three ODIs. Chahal needs to step up in Ashwin's absence.
2. Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina, who was apart of Team India's 2011 World Cup winning squad too, was the fourth highest run-getter (behind Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli) for the Men in Blue at the 2015 edition. He scored 284 runs in six innings at an average of 56.80 which includes two fifties and a hundred.
The southpaw, who still looks in great shape when it comes to limited overs cricket, could have been deployed at the crucial number four position. But he didn't get an opportunity to prove himself ahead of the World Cup, and will be missed by the fans in England.
1. Ambati Rayudu
The absence of Ambati Rayudu came as a big surprise as the Guntur-born batsman was touted to be India's number four batsman for quite some time.
Rayudu's knocks against West Indies at home and against New Zealand in tough Wellington conditions in February 2019 seemed to have guaranteed his place in the World Cup squad. But his poor form against Australia in the five ODIs just before the IPL undid all of his good work.
Though he was a part of India's 2015 World Cup squad, Rayudu did not feature in any of the games during that tournament. A solid middle-order batsman, Rayudu could be missed at the 2019 World Cup if the middle order fails to come to the party.