The 2015 World Cup is only months away, and India have all but finalised the squad that will feature in the mega event. We bring you the team which, we believe, would be the main players at next year's edition in Australia-New Zealand.
Openers: Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma
Their consistency may not be the same as it was a year back, but on present form and choices they are the best options India have. Rohit has tasted success in Australia before, so that will give him confidence, but the event would be a massive test for Dhawan. Unless something drastic happens, these two will step out for India at the start of the innings. Ajinkya Rahane is the other alternative for India in case one of the two falter. He has been successful in the position, so that's a definite plus. India would be hoping though that Rohit and Dhawan fire in the manner that they had done during the Champions Trophy and last year's home series in England. That would ease a lot of woes as far as India are concerned.
Middle-order: Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu and MS Dhoni
Most of the players pretty much pick themselves up here. Kohli will be expected to fire though he had a miserable time in England. He has pleasant memories of Australia having played some match-winning knocks over there. Rahane also should do well with his excellent talent and temperament. Raina was a concern before the England series, but he has put headaches to rest with a magnificent showing. If anything, Rayudu's place will be under pressure. He has batted well in his short career, but a few failures could open the door form Stuart Binny since he can bowl as well. As for Dhoni, he would be expected to do what he has been doing so well over the last few years. Can he continue his golden run?
All-rounders: Since India haven't found a genuine all-rounder yet, they will look up to the services of Ravindra Jadeja, who is an invaluable asset in all aspects in the format. He should bat at number eight apart from sending down close to 10 overs in most games. Alternately, if India decide to strengthen their bowling department, Binny could feature as the second all-rounder.
Bowlers: BhuvneshwarKumar, Mohammed Shami, Ravichandran Ashwin
These three are likely to be the main bowlers for India. Kumar and Shami will, in all probability, be given the responsibility of opening the bowling. Both have done the same for India over the last year and so, and should continue to do so in the World Cup as well. Their consistency with the ball could be the key to India's success, as also how they perform in tandem. Kumar was a revelation in England with his swing, but Shami could have more to do in Australia, where pace matters a lot, and he genuinely has some. Ashwin has not done well in Australia and New Zealand, so India would be really wary of how he performs. He will have the difficult task of picking up wickets in the middle overs while also keeping the runs down. In case, India need a change in bowling personnel, they have Mohit Sharma in the pace department, who has gained decent ODI experience in recent months.
--By A Cricket Analyst