The contrasting features of India's Squad for the 2019 ICC World Cup are glaringly visible and the manner in which they might affect Men In Blue's fortunes are so direct, it can't be ignored at any cost. All eyes were on whether selectors will be able to solve India's number four conundrum but in the end, the BCCI has played a safe hand and not taken any risks. The most glaring omission by Messrs MSK Prasad and Co. was that of Rishabh Pant - the maverick keeper batsman - who was left out in favour of the stable and more reliable Dinesh Karthik.
MSK Prasad, interestingly, said two things that need to be looked at closely - 1) KL Rahul is in the squad as a reserve opener, and 2) Dinesh Karthik will get a game only when Mahendra Singh Dhoni is injured. The possibility of MSD getting injured, if history is anything to go by, is quite low, which clearly means that Pant has paid the price for his glove work - nowhere as spectacular as the Delhi lad's batting.
A closer look at India's potential line-up at the World Cup, given that KL Rahul will not be guaranteed a spot, comes up a little short on two ends - the uncertainty of No. 4 spot and the lack of firepower in the middle order. While Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav are great finishers and just what India need when chasing in a game, India lacks a middle order batsman, who can destroy bowling line-ups during the 30-50 over period. Though Hardik Pandya possesses the ability to hit big sixes - his shortcomings against pace are sure to be exploited by opponents on English wickets, which might offer some assistance to seamers.
The presence of a Rishabh Pant in the squad would have not only enhanced India's chances on a high scoring wicket, but opponents would also have had something extra to worry about. Pant's ability to clear boundaries with ease, be it against pace or spin, is a trump card India should have possessed going into a tournament like the World Cup.
While the above-mentioned argument ignores Pant's lack of experience and relatively poor keeping skills, what he brings to the table could have certainly outweighed the negatives.
With a top-three - Rohit, Shikhar & Virat - that is probably the best in the world, it is only fair that the remaining batting order would have come up on the weaker side. However, hitting top quality bowling attacks like Australia and South Africa, which would include the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Kagiso Rabada, will be an uphill task.
One cannot question selectors for choosing experience (Dinesh Karthik) over youth & flamboyance (Rishabh Pant) but modern-day limited overs cricket warrants teams to take calculated risks to gain an edge over opponents. Have India missed out on a trick by not picking Pant over Karthik?
Here's the 15-member squad that has been named for the upcoming World Cup in England & Wales.