Additional fast bowler of third spinner option? Check out India's probable squad for ODI WC

It wouldn't be unexpected if India opts for a contingent of around 16 to 18 members for both the Asia Cup and the Australia home series before finalizing the ultimate roster.

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The Indian national selection committee will have its task cut out as every team has to submit its initial squad by September 15 for the upcoming ODI World Cup. However, the final submission can be done by September 27. A nation possesses the freedom to implement numerous alterations between the preliminary and final submissions.

Interestingly, the series in Australia concludes on September 27, which coincides with the final submission day. Hence, it wouldn't be unexpected if India opts for a contingent of around 16 to 18 members for both the Asia Cup and the Australia home series before finalizing the ultimate roster.

However, the Indian decision-makers encounter a complex quandary as they must decide between Shardul Thakur and Jaydev Unadkat for the additional fast bowler position in the 15-player Indian squad for the World Cup, commencing on October 5. While the potential return of injured batsmen KL Rahul and Shreyas Iyer would undoubtedly elevate India's status as a prominent title contender, it's the composition of the bowling unit on sluggish and low-paced pitches that will ultimately shape the team's performance in the premier event. Two issues emerge prominently—selecting the supplementary seamer and determining the third spinner for the fifteen-member lineup.

However, matters are not as straightforward when it comes to speedsters. Jasprit Bumrah is recuperating from a stress fracture in his lower back; even at 80 percent fitness, Bumrah is slated to participate in the World Cup, alongside Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj. With Hardik Pandya fulfilling the fourth fast bowler's role and anticipated to deliver a minimum of six to eight overs per match, if not ten, the role of the reserve paceman assumes significance.

The third spinner's position could be a more apparent decision with Axar Patel presently holding a distinct advantage over Yuzvendra Chahal. Although Axar's skillset mirrors that of Ravindra Jadeja, who is likely to secure a starting spot in all of India's matches, Axar's superior batting capabilities and the team management's apparent lack of enthusiasm to test Chahal during the West Indies ODIs make a telling statement.

The Indian team management is eager to ensure a fully fit KL Rahul for the upcoming Asia Cup in Sri Lanka. However, similar to his fast bowling counterpart Bumrah, Rahul will need to undergo a 50-over match simulation as preparation for the continental spectacle. As the World Cup draws nearer, insiders believe that in the scenario where all specialized bowlers are in good health and available, the choice between Mumbai's seam-bowling all-rounder Shardul and Saurashtra's left-arm medium pacer Unadkat will be a decisive one.

In terms of the third spin option, Ashwin's prowess would be particularly effective against lineups like Australia's, boasting a considerable number of left-handed batters. Prasad is of the opinion that the seasoned campaigner seems to be in an excellent mental state at the moment, capable of leaving a substantial imprint in the spin-friendly conditions of Sri Lanka and India.

Having concluded their series of trial runs during the three-match encounter against the West Indies, the think-tank has decided not to extend their exploration any further. According to reliable sources, they have already narrowed down the core group to 18-19 members for the World Cup, from which the final 15 will be selected for the actual tournament.

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India's probable WC squad

Rohit Sharma (captain), Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya (vice-captain), Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Mohmmed Siraj, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan (wk), Axar Patel, Shardul Thakur, Ravichandran Ashwin

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