Preparations, team composition and nursing ageing players will be crucial as India play 48 ODIs in the run up to the 2019 World Cup.
The scrapping of next year's ICC World Twenty20 championship provides the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the Indian cricket team a great opportunity to strengthen the ODI reserves keeping in mind 2019 World Cup in England. More importantly, it gives the likes of Yuvraj Singh a lifeline to make it count in ODIs before, probably, hanging up boots.
In the past one year — June 2016 to March 2017 to be precise — India played a whopping 17 Test matches. The Men in Blue, however, played only 11 ODIs and seven T20Is during the period.
Preparations, team composition and nursing ageing players will be crucial as India play 48 ODIs in the run up to the 2019 World Cup. The team will pit itself against Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe. India is also likely to play Asia Cup at home.
Messrs Virat Kohli and Co will hope to play the high number of ODIs to their advantage. They will also play five ODIs in England exactly a year before the World Cup.
With just two years to go for the World Cup, it is unlikely that India would opt for major changes in the squad. While BCCI selectors and Kohli will see the Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, West Indies, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe tours as a testing bed, the England sojourn will be crucial for players looking to cement their position in the World Cup squad.
Kohli will lead the side in all probability. A positive for the team is that none of India's current pacers such as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, and Umesh Yadav are still in their twenties. Ravichandran Ashwin has not done very well in English conditions, but he continues to be India's premier spinner.
Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja are likely to remain indispensable from the Indian squad unless there is a major dip in form. Ajinkya Rahane, thanks to his near-40 average in ODIs in England will likely make the cut.
World Cups are long and India has always carried an extra keeper. It will be a toss-up between Dinesh Karthik and Parthiv Patel.
What happens to Dhoni and Yuvraj?
In March this year, Dhoni said that he plans to play well beyond the 2019 World Cup if he is fit enough.
Another key player in question is Yuvraj Singh who will turn 37 during the World Cup. Since his return after battling cancer, Yuvraj's form and fitness has not been up to the mark. His position in the team has not been permanent and he missed out on the 2015 World Cup too. He averages 29 since 2013 in ODIs.Yuvraj told Reuters last year that making it to the 2019 World Cup squad is his goal. But for that, he said, he will have to work very hard and show outstanding performance. "If I can reach 2019 it will be huge for me," he had said then.