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Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar make the cut; Rishabh Pant misses out

The Board of Control for Cricket in India’s (BCCI) panel of selectors on Monday announced the 15-member squad for the ICC World Cup to be led by Virat Kohli. Dinesh Karthik has been included in the squad as the back-up wicket-keeper in place of the widely tipped Rishabh Pant. Tamil Nadu all-rounder Vijay Shankar is also in the mix and is being considered for the number four slot.

The selectors have gone for KL Rahul as the back-up opener as chief selector MSK Prasad clearly mentioned during the press briefing that Rahul has been considered for the opener’s slot.

“To begin with, KL Rahul will be reserve opener. If the need arises the team management will take a call on him playing in the middle-order,” Prasad said.

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Speaking about the inclusion of Vijay Shankar in the squad, Prasad mentioned that the all-rounder is being seen as the number 4 batsman for India apart from his bowling and fielding skills.

“After the Champions Trophy, we tried quite a few people [at No.4]. We have a few more chances to Rayudu. What Vijay Shankar brings is three dimensional. We are looking at him at no. 4 to begin with,” Prasad said.

Karthik’s inclusion comes as a huge surprise as Pant was considered the favourite for the reserve keeper’s slot as he was the favoured choice in ODIs since the beginning of the year.

“Definitely a case where we debated in length. We all were in unison that either Pant or DK will come in only when Mahi is injured. In an important game, wicket keeping is also important. That’s the reason we went with Dinesh Karthik,” said chief selector MSK Prasad.

With 363 runs, Dhawan was India’s top-scorer during the 2013 Champions Trophy win in England. Two years ago, he aggregated 338 while Sharma totalled 304 in five matches even though India lost to Pakistan in the final.

On Kohli, Dhoni, Dhawan, Sharma and Jadhav rest India’s batting responsibility. Jadhav has emerged a dependable middle-order batsman who can also be trusted to squeeze in a few overs of off-spin. An integral part of the team since his Man-of-the-Series performance of 232 runs in the three-match ODI series against England in 2017 that India lost 1-2, Jadhav’s batting average hasn’t dipped below 40 in more than two years now.

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