ODI World Cup 2023: Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat set for extra pacer's slot tie-breaker
According to ICC rules, each team must submit its initial roster of 15 players by September 5, although the final submission can be completed by September 27, and a country may make as many changes as possible between the initial and final submissions.
Rohit Sharma hopeful of winning ODI World Cup 2023 at home
Surprisingly, the Australia series concludes on September 27, the day before the final.
As a result, don't be shocked if India takes 16 to 18 players to both the Asia Cup and the Australia home series before settling on a final roster.
So Unadkat and Shardul will almost probably see action at the Asia Cup in Sri Lanka and the three-match home series against Australia (both in September), which will serve as a warm-up for the World Cup.
India's World Cup campaign against Australia begins in Chennai on October 8, exactly two months from now, and the team makeup is far from finalised.
While the return of injured hitters KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer would surely make India a strong championship challenger, the bowling combination on low and slow wickets will determine the team's performance during the flagship event.
The extra seamer's place and the third spinner's berth in the fifteen are the two sticking points.
However, it would not be as simple as one might think in the case of speed merchants.
Jasprit Bumrah is recovering from a lower-back stress fracture, but even at 80 percent health, Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj will participate in the World Cup.
With Hardik Pandya also filling the fourth fast bowler post and anticipated to bowl at least six to eight overs every game, if not ten, the reserve pacer's position becomes critical.
Shardul is clearly the better player in terms of performance and quality, and he has proven his worth in the Caribbean with eight wickets in three ODIs, but Unadkat has the advantage of being a left-arm seamer in this setup.
With Arshdeep Singh, a left-armer with higher skill sets, being shifted to the Asian Games T20 team, Unadkat is very much in the picture, adding diversity despite his lack of pace.
Also, because the team management has been carrying Unadkat for so long, he must be considered for the big event.
Another possibility is Bengal pacer Mukesh Kumar, who has surprised everyone with his work ethic, although even he has been selected for the Asian Games in Hangzhou, which conclude on October 7, if India qualifies for the gold medal match.
Axar Patel is now miles ahead of Yuzvendra Chahal in the third spinner's spot, albeit his skill-set is pretty similar to Ravindra Jadeja, who is slated to start all of India's games.
However, Axar's superior batting ability and the team management's apparent lack of interest in trying Chahal during the West Indies ODIs are indicators.
Rahul might have to do 50-over simulation before Asia Cup
The Indian team management is anxious to have a completely healthy KL Rahul for the next Asia Cup in Sri Lanka, but the senior Karnataka player, like his fast bowling partner Bumrah, would need to do 50-over match simulations before the continental showcase.
People in the know think that if all specialist bowlers are healthy and available closer to the World Cup, it will be a clear tie-breaker between Mumbai's seam bowling all-rounder Shardul and Saurashtra's left-arm medium pacer Unadkat.
The think-tank will not cast its net any further after completing its round of experiments during the three-match series against the West Indies, and if sources are to be believed, they have zeroed in on the core 18-19 members for the World Cup, of which 15 will be chosen for the tournament proper.
"The selectors and team management want to give Rahul and Shreyas every opportunity to recover." Rahul is well ahead of schedule in terms of rehabilitation and coming closer to match fitness.
"But he needs to do match simulations where he is able to keep wickets for 50 overs," a BCCI insider told PTI on condition of anonymity.
"The Instagram videos show him doing well, but 50 overs of keeping and at least 30 overs of batting in the heat will show how his operated thigh holds up in humid conditions."
"If he is able to do well over the next nine possible games (six if India plays the Asia Cup final plus three against Australia), it will be the best news for the Indian team," he continued.
India's Asia Cup team is scheduled to be chosen by the end of this week or by the middle of next week (at the latest by August 16-17).
Likely lineup: Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya (vc), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohmmed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Kuldeep Yadav, Surykumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Axar Patel, Sanju Samson, Shardul thakur,Jaydev Unadkat, Mukesh Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal