As the countdown approaches the 2023 ODI World Cup, former Indian batting coach Sanjay Bangar has shared his envisioned India squad for the upcoming prestigious tournament. Revealing his selections on Star Sports, Bangar’s choices have stirred discussions among cricket analysts and enthusiasts due to some unexpected inclusions. One of the most striking decisions is the inclusion of left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh while omitting the versatile all-rounder Shardul Thakur. Another noticeable absence is Prasidh Krishna, an option in the seam-bowling department. Given the anticipation surrounding the World Cup scheduled from October 5 to November 19 in India, these selections add a layer of intrigue to the ongoing cricket conversation.

Bangar’s envisioned squad structure includes five specialist batters, two wicketkeeper-batters, two spin-bowling all-rounders, one pace-bowling all-rounder, one specialist spinner, and four fast bowlers. This well-balanced composition, however, is eclipsed by the individual selections he has made.

In the batting realm, he has chosen established names like Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, while also acknowledging emerging talents such as Shubman Gill and Suryakumar Yadav. His choices for wicketkeeper-batters are Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul, both known for their adaptable batting skills. As for the all-rounders, Bangar has gone with the left-arm spin duo of Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja. His solitary pick for a pace-bowling all-rounder is Hardik Pandya. In the realm of specialist spin, he favors Kuldeep Yadav over more experienced alternatives. Finally, the fast bowling unit comprises the established trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, and Mohammed Siraj, along with the unexpected addition of Arshdeep Singh.

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The inclusion of Arshdeep Singh is particularly intriguing. He has been selected over Shardul Thakur, who boasts more experience and the ability to contribute significantly with both bat and ball. However, Bangar’s choice likely stems from his recognition of something exceptional in Arshdeep, who has consistently performed well in domestic leagues. Thakur’s omission isn’t an isolated decision; rather, it exemplifies Bangar’s willingness to take a gamble on fresh talents over more established performers.

Similarly, the absence of Prasidh Krishna reflects Bangar’s preference for a specific type of bowler, potentially indicating the expected conditions during the World Cup. Given that the tournament will be held in India, known for its spin-friendly pitches, the focus on spin-bowling all-rounders like Axar and Jadeja is a strategic move. The inclusion of Kuldeep Yadav as a specialist spinner further underscores this approach.

Bangar’s selections align with the idea that India is gearing up for the World Cup by prioritizing adaptability and specialized skills suited for subcontinental conditions. This is particularly important since the World Cup squad is expected to resemble the one chosen for the Asia Cup, as per Ajit Agarkar, the chief selector of the BCCI.

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Bangar shared his thoughts, saying, “In my selection, specialist batters would include Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, while the wicketkeeper-batters would be Ishan Kishan and KL Rahul. As for spin-bowling all-rounders, I’d opt for both left-armers – Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja. The lone pace-bowling all-rounder would be Hardik Pandya, and the designated specialist spinner would be Kuldeep Yadav. The four fast bowlers in the squad would be Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, and Arshdeep Singh.”

Sanjay Bangar’s squad of 15 players for the 2023 World Cup includes: Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul, Hardik Pandya, Axar Patel, Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Siraj, Mohammed Shami, and Arshdeep Singh.

From my perspective, Bangar’s selections signify a bold approach to team composition, favoring current form and specialized skill sets over established reputations. While the omission of Shardul Thakur and Prasidh Krishna might spark debates, the inclusion of fresh talents like Arshdeep Singh introduces an element of exciting unpredictability to the squad. Arshdeep’s presence could potentially provide the X-factor that often proves decisive in high-stakes tournaments.

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However, there’s an inherent risk that Bangar’s focus on emerging players could backfire if they struggle to handle the pressure of a World Cup scenario. Additionally, it remains to be seen whether the selectors will embrace Bangar’s recommendations or stick with more proven options. Nonetheless, Bangar’s proposed lineup offers a fresh perspective that demands consideration, especially in a cricket-enthusiastic nation eagerly awaiting its third World Cup victory. With the Asia Cup serving as a prelude to the main event, it won’t be long before we discover the extent to which the official squad aligns with Bangar’s audacious vision.