Bengaluru, April 19: India’s head coach Ravi Shastri is never short of a unique opinion. Days after India announced their 15-man squad for the upcoming World Cup in England and Wales, the former India all-rounder said he would have preferred India to carry a 16-man squad for the big tournament instead of 15 for he felt in case of a 15-man squad, there is always the possibility of somebody or another missing out and called that “unfortunate”.
He advised the duo – Ambati Rayudu and Rishabh Pant – who were very much in the fray till losing in the last moment not to lose heart.
Even though the participating teams for the next WC are coming up with squads of 15 players, it is not always that WCs see squads of 15. In 2015, India sent a squad of 16 to the ICC World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand. In the 2011 WC which was played at home, too, India had picked 16 players while the last time they went to England for the WC, India had a 15-member squad.
Whether to pick squads of 15 or 16 is a technical issue but Shastri’s take that picking a squad of 16 reduces the chances of people missing out is less than buyable. It makes no sense for a team to pick a squad of 16 just to ensure that some player doesn’t miss out. India have picked their best available 15 for the upcoming edition with three players kept as standbys.
Even if one of those standbys was picked as a member of the first squad and ended up only travelling as a passenger, it would have served no logic. We saw Test triple centurion Karun Nair travelling around as a glorified extra when India toured England for a full-fledged series last year and it only gave rise to controversies.
Even if India had picked Rayudu or Pant as the 16th member of the squad, it would only have made them redundant for the team management has more or less settled its mind over the playing XI and neither of the two features in the scheme of things with their recent debacle in the main roles they were supposed to contribute. And adding one more berth doesn’t really help those who still miss out – the 17th player onwards. The 15+3 formula is quite sensible irrespective of what the coach might think.