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World Cup flashbacks: From Sidhu to Khurasiya to Vijay Shankar, India’s surprise selections

Vijay Shankar

Bengaluru, April 16: Now that Indian squad for the forthcoming ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 has been announced, the experts are busy plunging into the micro-analysis of the 15-man team that has been picked.

While there is not much of a surprise in the team that has been picked, a question or two has surfaced over ignoring wicket-keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant or picking all-rounder Vijay Shankar.

The latter has been chosen as a probable No.4 batsman in the team and that has raised a few eyebrows.

However, even if Vijay is being seen as a surprise package, history is replete with examples of India making surprise selections for their World Cup squads over the years and while it clicked some times, it did not on other occasions.

As against the players who were picked as surprise packages in World Cup teams, there were also players like Sunil Valson, who though was picked for the 1983 World Cup, after producing impressive performance in domestic cricket, but failed to make it to the playing XI on a single occasion.

Here are some of the surprise World Cup selections, India have made over the years:

Navjot Singh Sidhu, 1987

Navjot Singh Sidhu, 1987

Then a 24-year-old, Sidhu did not have the best of reputations after acclaimed cricket writer Rajan Bala named him "Strokeless Wonder" after his pathetic show in his debut Test series against the West Indies at home in 1983.

But Sidhu did not disappoint when he made his debut in the ODI format in the 1987 World Cup.

In the first match against Australia in Chennai (then Madras), the Punjab batsman top scored with 73 and went on to score fifties in all games that he played except in the semifinal against England in Mumbai (then Bombay) that India lost.

Amay Khurasiya, 1999

Amay Khurasiya, 1999

The hard-hitting left-hand bat was picked for the 1999 edition in England after he hit a quick fifty against Sri Lanka in a tri-series at home preceding the big tournament.

But Mohammad Azharuddin's side decided against playing him in any of the games, even when the great Sachin Tendulkar missed a match owing to his father's death.

Khurasiya's technical limitations did not see him lasting long in international cricket as his career ended in 2001, after having played just 12 ODIs and averaging less than 14.

Dinesh Mongia, 2003

Dinesh Mongia, 2003

The southpaw got the nod ahead of the god-gifted VVS Laxman, who was at the peak of his form in those years, for the 2003 edition held in South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Mongia had just one international hundred (159 not out against Zimbabwe in Guwahati in 2002) and two fifties to his credit then.

He played 11 games in the 2003 World Cup, including the final that India lost badly against Australia. Mongia started off well with a 42 against the Netherlands but could manage just 78 runs in the next five innings.

Stuart Binny, 2015

Stuart Binny, 2015

Son of former India all-rounder Roger Binny, Stuart made the cut for the 2015 edition and the then Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni had backed him as the country's best seam all-rounder who could bat down the order.

Surprisingly, the player, despite the captain's backing, did not get a single game in the entire tournament and played only 14 ODIs for the country.

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Story first published: Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 12:43 [IST]
Other articles published on Apr 16, 2019
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