In a recent unveiling, the Indian Team’s chief selector MSK Prasad has confirmed that World Cup seats are still open for contention. Even though a long series of victories ended with a close defeat for India, it opened eyes to some real positive lookouts for the Men in Blue. The World Campaign for India starts in June. That’s less than four months worth of time. But some seats are still open to be filled. Some questions are still lingering in the minds of fans. And these questions have led to the board taking some late calls.
We have seen Vijay Shankar at No. 3 during the T20I series, in New Zealand. His performance was decent. But the sample space of his performance is not adequate. Even in ODIs, he has only batted in one innings. But since he’s being considered in the World Cup mix, it indicates that he’ll play in the next of India’s ventures. The ODI series, at home, against Australia, starts later this month. To quote Prasad, “Vijay, who is seen as a batting allrounder, has brought in a new dimension to the World Cup selection with his impressive performances in the New Zealand series this month.”
"In whatever opportunities he has got, Vijay Shankar has shown the skillsets 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 told Cricinfo.
Risabh Pant, deemed as a natural successor of MS Dhoni since his performance against England is also being considered for the World Cup berth. Both of his Test hundreds have come overseas, in England and in Australia, that demands consideration. "Undoubtedly he (Pant) is in contention," Prasad said. "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 was previously being considered as a backup wicketkeeper for MS Dhoni in the ODI mix. However, things have changed over the past few months. Dinesh Karthik has proven his worth in the lower order with his finishing abilities. And now the selectors are studying if Pant can be included as a specialist batsman.
Coming to Ajinkya Rahane, who hasn’t done anything striking across formats in a long time. The reason for his contention is KL Rahul’s drastic deterioration in form. He has been India’s liability since the South Africa tour last year across the three formats. It can be said, his name is somewhat struck off from the list. Even until the England tour last year, Rahul was being seen as the third opener by the selectors.
Rahane has not featured for India in ODIs since last year's South Africa tour. But he has been consistent in List A cricket this season, scoring 597 runs in 11 innings at an average of 74.62 with two big hundreds and three fifties. Backing Rahane’s domestic form, Prasad said, "In domestic cricket, he has been in form," Prasad said. "He is very much in contention for the World Cup."