India ended their campaign in the Asia Cup on a high with a resounding 101-run win over Afghanistan in Dubai on Thursday. However, the big win came too late as the team bowed out after successive losses to Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Indian captain Rohit Sharma had put up a brave face after the narrow loss to the Lankans and said the squad for the T20 World Cup was '90-95 per cent finalised.'
So who all are certainties in the Indian squad for the showpiece to be held in Australia in October/November? The Men in Blue open their campaign against Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on October 23.
Onmanorama picks the players who are likely to board the flight to Australia, provided they are fit.
1. Rohit Sharma
The captain picks himself. Rohit has been in fine form with the bat. He has also done the job as a skipper despite the setback in the Asia Cup.
2. K L Rahul
The stylish Karnataka batter has been struggling for form on his return to international cricket after being plagued by fitness worries and COVID-19. However, the Indian think tank has enormous faith in his abilities and he should partner with Rohit at the top of the order.
3. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli has silenced his critics with scores of 35, 59 not out, 60, 0 and 122 not out in the Asia Cup. Kohli is back in form and with him ending a three-year century drought, the Indian fans can be hopeful of the run machine returning to his menacing best
4. Suryakumar Yadav
The Mumbaikar is the quintessential T20 player. Surya has cemented his place in the playing XI with his all-round shotmaking capacity.
5. Hardik Pandya
Hardik Pandya has been on a roll starting with IPL 2022 where he led debutants Gujarat Titans to glory. The all-rounder will have a big role to play for India to have any chance of reaching the climactic stages of the tournament.
6. Rishabh Pant
The wicketkeeper-batter may have found the going tough in the shortest format, but Pant is a genuine match-winner. He should relish the bouncy Australian tracks and being a left-hander works to his advantage in the race for a place in the final XI.
7. Dinesh Karthik
At 37, Dinesh Karthik forced his way into the Indian team with his scintillating strokeplay for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022. Karthik is expected to do the job as a 'finisher'. He faced a lone ball in the Asia Cup and there is no way the selectors can leave him out of the final 15.
8. Yuzvendra Chahal
The wily leg-spinner has come back strongly after being left out of the last T20 World Cup. Chahal can pick up vital wickets and can also bowl in various stages of the game. On the big Australian grounds he will be a big factor.
9. Jasprit Bumrah
India sorely missed the pace spearhead at the death in the Asia Cup. Bumrah has been missing in action for close to two months with a back injury. But he has had ample time to recuperate and should be raring to go.
10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar
After match-winning spells in England and the West Indies, Bhuvneshwar Kumar struggled at the death in the Asia Cup. But the veteran is a canny bowler, especially with the new ball, and the Australian tracks should suit him.
11. Arshdeep Singh
The rookie left-arm seamer was tested in the Asia Cup. He dropped a sitter during a vital stage of the match against Pakistan and was at the receiving end of online abuses. But the youngster bowled brilliant final overs against both Pakistan and Lanka. Being the only left-arm seamer in the race also works to his advantage.
12. R Ashwin
The India team management is expected to pick the veteran off-spinner. Ashwin has the variations to keep the batsmen guessing, and can also chip in with the bat. He should edge young leggie Ravi Bishnoi.
13. Axar Patel
The left-arm spin bowling all-rounder stands no chance if Ravindra Jadeja is fit. But it looks like a long break for Jadeja after undergoing knee surgery and in his absence Axar fits the bill perfectly. He is a tidy bowler, can play the big shots when needed, and is a fine fielder too.
The last two slots are likely to witness a close fight among T20 specialist seamer Harshal Patel, swing bowler Deepak Chahar, experienced pacer Mohammed Shami and rookie fast bowler Avesh Khan.