India’s ICC World Cup 2023 squad announced on Tuesday by chief selector Ajit Agarkar and captain Rohit Sharma in a press conference in Kandy, Sri Lanka was on the expected lines but that doesn’t mean there were no surprises. Sounds confusing? Let us clear it. The 15-member squad, or in other words, the main squad had no surprises at all. A fit-again KL Rahul was recalled in the side. Ishan Kishan was picked as the backup opener and keeper while Suryakumar Yadav pipped Sanju Samson for the backup middle-order batter’s spot.
As far as the seam-bowling options are concerned, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur picked themselves, so did all-rounders Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Axar Patel and spinner Kuldeep Yadav. Yuzvendra Chahal, Prasidh Krishna, Ravichandran Ashwin, Tilak Varma and Samson were notable omissions. Ashwin and Chahal were anyway not a part of the Asia Cup, Samson was a reserve and Krishna and Tilak were picked only because ACC allowed teams to name 17-member squads. So where is the surprise?
It is in the absence of naming reserves. India refrained from naming standby or reserve players, a common practice for multi-nation tournaments and ICC events, for the upcoming World Cup at home that starts on October 5.
Since ICC doesn’t allow more than 15 players in the main squad, most teams name at least three reserve players. They are generally the ones preferred while picking a replacement if somebody from the main squad gets injured. But it appears that India did not want to restrict them to just three or four names. Since the World Cup will be played at home, they obviously have a chance to replace a player with anybody.
Ajit Agarkar explains why India didn’t name any reserve player for World Cup 2023
When asked about the same, chief selector Agarkar did indicate that if somebody from the main squad gets injured then the reserve is likely to be from the ones that are currently in Sri Lanka but have missed out a World Cup berth. That is Samson, Tialk and Krishna. “There are 17 guys, KL is the 18th. So, if you want that cover, those three guys, whether it’s for a keeper, extra seamer or a batter. Tilak is also there with us. This is the best 15 that we have picked. You are not going to change it unless you have to because of injuries,” he said.
Notably, ICC does not make it mandatory for teams to name reserve players. It is a practice that has generally been followed by teams in the last few years to be prepared for injury concerns. In the last ODI World Cup, India named Rishabh Pant, Ambati Rayudu and Navdeep Saini as their official standby players.
What will happen if somebody from India’s 15-member squad gets injured?
India will be allowed to pick a replacement. The fact that they did not name reserves won’t have any bearing on that. In fact, not naming reserve players, only broadens India’s horizon. In the three players that Agarkar named, India cover all bases barring the spin department. Kuldeep Yadav is the long specialist spinner with all-rounders Jadeja and Axar being the other options. The likes of Chahal, and Ashwin will be in line if Kuldeep picks up an injury midway in the tournament.