India have seven international matches – two T20Is and five ODIs against Australia – before the ICC World Cup in United Kingdom in May and June. It is the final opportunity for the team unit to fill in the gaps and assess the players before the squad for the extravaganza is announced. With the deadline for naming of the squad nears, plenty of permutations and combinations will be tested by the selectors and coaches.
Even with the bowling attack looking settled and giving a good show of itself in the tour of Australia and New Zealand, the fourth seamer remains to be fixed. Currently the leading candidates among fast bowlers are Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami with Hardik Pandya a handy add as an all-rounder.
With most of the games taking place in England, India would need to keep a backup option. Former India bowler Ashish Nehra has chosen between the two leading options: Umesh Yadav or Khaleel Ahmed.
“Umesh has the experience of bowling well in a World Cup. If he goes, India will retain the core of the 2015 World Cup and there will be Bumrah to boost. Khaleel is raw. He doesn’t have the experience of first-class cricket. His pace has dropped but that happens to any young bowler. He will learn and get better,” Nehra told Times of India.
Umesh has been given an opportunity in the two-match T20I series against Australia following an impressive Ranji Trophy season where he picked 26 wickets in five matches in Vidarbha’s victorious campaign.