One of the most prestigious tournaments in world cricket, the ICC Cricket World Cup is around the corner and the cricket fans all over the world cannot wait for the action to begin. Even though all the ten participating teams are in the fray for laying their hands on the glorious trophy, a couple of teams are tagged as pre-tournament favorites to lift the trophy. One of those teams is team India.
The Indian team has been in good form in the past couple of years having defeated South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand in their own backyards. One of the major reasons for this success has been the availability of a large pool of players for selection. The competition for places in the team has become extremely tough which apparently made the selectors' task of selecting India's World Cup squad difficult. And even though the selectors have named a strong squad for the marquee event, there were a lot of players who might have felt hard done by the selection.
A barrage of young players showed their worth in the recently concluded IPL and one can only wonder what would have happened if some of these talented players were part of the World Cup-bound squad. Anyway, as a tribute to India's bench strength, here is a playing XI of players who are not part of India's World Cup Squad but are more than capable of giving any team a run for their money.
#1 Mayank Agarwal
Mayank Agarwal has been a consistent performer across formats in domestic cricket. After a couple of prolific seasons for Karnataka, Agarwal finally got his dues when he was named in India's Test team for the tour of Australia. Agarwal impressed one and all with his classy batting and fluent strokeplay. After having a below average IPL season last year, Agarwal had a decent IPL 2019 scoring 332 runs for Kings XI Punjab. His aggressive style of cricket is ideal for ODI cricket.
#2 Prithvi Shaw
Even though Prithvi Shaw would have liked a more consistent run in IPL 2019, he played a couple of game-changing innings for the Delhi Capitals. Shaw has just gone from strength to strength since leading the Indian U19 team to the World Cup title. Be it domestic cricket or IPL or a few games of international cricket, he has been putting in eye-catching performances. There are no doubts about Shaw's talent and it is just a matter of time that the youngster becomes a regular member of the Indian team in all the formats of the game.
#3 Shreyas Iyer (Captain)
Shreyas Iyer has vindicated Delhi's decision of handing him the captaincy last year by leading the side to the playoffs this year. Iyer, who is still 24, has played 6 ODIs averaging 42. Unfortunately, he hasn't been given a long run in the side. But the Mumbai batsman might be in line for a comeback in the ODIs post the World Cup and given the kind of form he has exhibited, he could work his way back into the national team fold for good and cement a place ahead of the competiton.
#4 Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav has had yet another fruitful IPL season for the Mumbai Indians. Yadav was the backbone of Mumbai's middle order and played according to the situation. Apart from steady performances in the IPL, Yadav has been a consistent performer for Mumbai in first-class cricket too. He seems to have all the shots in his repertoire and the right kind of temperament to play 50 overs cricket. Yadav can be groomed as a long term number 4 for team India.
#5 Rishabh Pant (Wicket-keeper)
Rishabh Pant's non-selection was one of the biggest talking points post India's World Cup squad selection. Pant has played some sensational knocks in the IPL and domestic cricket and he is tipped to be the next big thing in Indian cricket. The dashing left-hander will want to replicate his IPL success in international cricket. After establishing himself as a Test wicket-keeper, Pant will target the role in ODI and T20 sides. Although, he struggles for consistency is white-ball cricket, there's no doubting the fact that Pant is set to be a future superstar for the country.
#6 Krunal Pandya
Krunal Pandya's big-hitting abilities with the bat and his street-smartness with the ball are tailor made for ODI cricket. The elder Pandya brother has time and again proved his effectiveness as an all-rounder and has already made it to the Indian T20 side. All-rounders are always an asset in ODI cricket and it won't be a surprise if Krunal joins his brother Hardik in the ODI side in the near future.
#7 Ravichandran Ashwin
Even though Ravichandran Ashwin has been out of the Indian ODI side for nearly two years, his brilliant performance in the IPL would have set alarm bells ringing to his young competitors. Ashwin has a number of variations up his sleeve that can outfox the batsmen. Despite age not being on his side, Ashwin, with all his experience, still has a lot to offer. Also, his batting is an added bonus for any side he plays for.
#8 Shreyas Gopal
Shreyas Gopal was a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing IPL 2019 for the Rajasthan Royals. He took 20 matches in 14 wickets for the Royals. The Karnataka spinner bamboozled some of the big names of World cricket with his leg spin exploits. Gopal has shown a big heart and hasn't been intimidated by his opponents. He seemed to have all the attributes of becoming a World class spinner. Gopal had shown fight even with the bat too, chipping in with some useful runs in the lower order.
#9 Deepak Chahar
Deepak Chahar has been MS Dhoni's go-to man with the new ball in the last two seasons. Chahar's ability to swing the new white ball makes him a candidate for a place in the ODI side. Apart from bowling in the powerplays, Chahar bowled some crucial overs for CSK at the death too. Chahar hasn't had the best of starts to his international career last year, but his career is far from over and he definitely has a chance to make a place for himself in the national setup.
#10 Khaleel Ahmed
Since Zaheer Khan's retirement, team India has failed to find a proper left-arm seamer. Khaleel Ahmed can put an end to India's longstanding search for a left-arm seamer. Khaleel had a good start to his international career and looked good to seal a spot in India's World Cup Squad before running out of gas in the couple of series before the World Cup. However, with the kind of talent he possesses, Khaleel is surely going to get a look-in at some point of time.
#11 Navdeep Saini
It's not often that an Indian fast bowler clocks 150 Kph. But Navdeep Saini bowled consistently in that range in IPL 2019. The Delhi pacer troubled a lot of batsmen with his raw pace and extracted pace and bounce even from the flat deck of Chinnaswamy. Despite not having any international experience, Navdeep was named in the list of standbys for the World Cup and if he continues to bowl like he has been doing so far, the future looks bright for the Delhi lad.