The five wise men of Indian cricket, led by MSK Prasad, will meet in Mumbai on Monday to pick the squad for the 2019 World Cup in England. While most of the players pick themselves, thanks to their consistent show in recent times, there are three main areas of concern that the selectors need to take a call on when they sit down to pick the 15-member squad. The much-debated number four slot, whether Rishabh Pant or Dinesh Karthik go as the second wicket-keeper behind MS Dhoni and finally if the team will pick a fourth pacer or an additional third spinner considering that the wickets will be on the slower side at this time of the year in England.
Starting with the number four slot, while there have been talks ranging from Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul, Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer, it could well be that the team management will continue with the recent experiment of playing Vijay Shankar at the number four slot with Rahul being drafted as the official back-up opener as well as the answer to all the other top-order batting slots if and when any of the other batsmen in the top line-up is injured or out of form.Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar has also spoken about how Rahul can fit into any position in the batting order considering he is an opener and that his IPL form is something that cannot be ignored. Interestingly, former India opener Gautam Gambhir has also proposed the name of Sanju Samson. But the Kerala and Rajasthan Royals batsman has just not been consistent enough.With the team management making it clear after the Nidahas Trophy that Rahul will be seen primarily as the third opener, he will only walk into the team as the back-up opener and not as a number four batsman. The fact that Shankar has continued to bat at number three or four in this Indian Premier League (IPL) for the Sunrisers Hyderabad is another hint that the team management might have asked him to carry on batting at the top.While he told on Friday that the move in the IPL wasn't aimed at sealing the number four spot in the showpiece event, he does look like one of the favourites to seal the much-debated spot in Indian cricket at present.
What this also means is that the likes of Shreyas Iyer or Ajinkya Rahane will be out of the equation. While Iyer has been scoring heavily without the selectors acknowledging his efforts, Rahane has somehow failed to get the backing of the selectors even though he has proved himself whenever given an opportunity. In fact, he was a hit in the middle-order in the last ODI series that he played against South Africa.The rest of the batsmen pick themselves with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma starting at the top, followed by Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav. Hardik Pandya fits in as the all-rounder who will also be looked at as a finisher.