Tamil Nadu duo Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar made the cut as Rishabh Pant and Ambati Rayudu were left out of India's 15-member squad for the World Cup.
The experienced Dinesh Karthik was included in India's 15-member squad for the 2019 World Cup, as young wicketkeeper Rishabh Pant was left out along with Ambati Rayudu, the BCCI announced on Monday.
Pant had so far scored 222 runs in the IPL compared to a mere 93 by Karthik, but the latter's experience helped tilt the scale in his favour for the mega-event, starting in England from May 30.
The Delhi wicketkeeper-batsman hit centuries in Tests in England and Australia and was included for the ODI and T20I series against Australia earlier this year ahead of Karthik. However, he is yet to do anything of note in ODIs, managing just 93 runs in five one-day matches at an average of 23.
For the record, Karthik took India to victory in two close run chases with a run-a-ball unbeaten 38 in the third ODI against New Zealand and a quick-fire 14-ball 25 not out in a high-scoring ODI against Australia, helping India chase down 299 with two balls to spare.
His famous last-ball six against Bangladesh in the Nidahas Trophy final a year ago showed that he is capable of guiding the team home in close finishes.
He was left out of the ODI series against Australia as the selectors gave Pant a few matches but he failed to convince them.
"It is definitely a case where we debated at length and all of us, in unison, we all felt that either Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik will only come into the playing eleven if MS Dhoni is injured. So at that juncture, if it is a crucial match, like a semi-final or an important game, wicketkeeping also matters. That is the only reason why we went ahead with Dinesh Karthik, otherwise Rishabh Pant was almost there," chairman of selectors MSK Prasad said in Mumbai on Monday.
K L Rahul also keeps his place in the India ODI team after a good showing in the ongoing IPL where he has scored 335 runs in eight games for Kings XI Punjab -- the second highest in the tournament behind David Warner (400).
Rahul was suspended from the Indian team along with all-rounder Hardik Pandya in January for their controversial remarks on a TV chat show, before he was recalled for the limited overs series against Australia.
All-rounder Vijay Shankar was also preferred ahead of the experienced Ambati Rayudu for the No 4 slot, as he provides balance to the team with his ability to bowl a few overs of medium pace.
Explaining why Shankar got the nod, Prasad stated: "After the Champions Trophy, we have tried quite a few middle-order batsmen, which also includes Dinesh Karthik at that order, and we also tried Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey. We did give a few more chances to Rayudu but what Vijay Shankar offers is three dimensions: apart from his batting, he can bowl; if the conditions are suitable, overcast, which we might encounter in England, he might bowl a bit and he is a fantastic fielder. That is the thing that went in favour of Vijay Shankar. Vijay Shankar comes in as a batsman who can bowl. We are looking at him at No 4 and with Dinesh Karthik and Kedar Jadhav in, we have plenty of options at that No 4 slot right now."
It is not anything that went against him, the only thing that went in favour of Vijay Shankar because he adds more dimensions to that role and, with his fielding and bowling abilities
India also went in with three spinners as Ravindra Jadeja was picked along with Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal.
Interestingly, for conditions like England, India are going in with three specialist fast bowlers in Mohammed Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with all-rounders Hardik Pandya and Shankar expected to chip in with their medium pace bowling.
Prasad believes that spinners could play a role in the latter part of the tournament, and hence they included Jadeja in place of a specialist pacer.
"In the last one, one-and-a-half years, it is these two wrist spinners who have won us games. But there might be a situation where you might require an additional all-rounder in the playing XI, which Jadeja brings in. In the second part of the tournament, where the wickets may be a bit more dry, that is where we felt Jadeja will come in handy. That is the reason why he has been picked." he said.
Two-time world champions India will play their first match on June 5 against South Africa at Hampshire Bowl in Southampton.
India will then travel to London where they will square off against defending champions Australia at The Oval on June 9, while Tren tBridge in Nottingham will be the stage of their third league match against New Zealand on June 13.
In a repeat of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final, India will take on traditional rivals Pakistan at Old Trafford in Manchester on June 16, while they will return to Southampton to play Afghanistan on June 22. India will be back at Old Trafford for their sixth league match against the Windies, which will be played on June 27.
Edgbaston in Birmingham will host India’s matches against England and Bangladesh on June 30 and July 2 respectively, while their ninth and last league match will be at Headingley, Leeds, against Sri Lanka on July 6.
India's World Cup squad:
1. Virat Kohli (captain)
2. Rohit Sharma
3. Mahendra Singh Dhoni
4. Shikhar Dhawan
5. KL Rahul
6. Hardik Pandya
7. Kedar Jadhav
8. Kuldeep Yadav
9. Yuzvendra Chahal
10. Jasprit Bumrah
11. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
12. Mohammed Shami
13. Dinesh Karthik
14. Vijay Shankar
15. Ravindra Jadeja