Virat Kohli-led Team India’s long season came to an end but not in the way they would have hoped for. A second-string Australia beat India 3-2 in the recently-concluded five-match ODI series. With the World Cup not far away, the loss creates more problems for India than Australia. The Men in Blue are still uncertain about their middle-order and time and again that has let the side down. Apart from that, India is also not confident about MS Dhoni’s backup keeper. It was surreal to see India lose after winning the first two games taking a 2-0 lead. Australia showed belief and faith to come back from behind to beat India in India, something very few touring teams have managed.

So, after the Australia series where does India stand with just more than a couple of months to go for the World Cup? What will be India’s probable XI for their tournament opener against South Africa?

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have done well together and have been a big reason for India’s recent success in limited overs cricket. While Rohit has amassed 3790 runs at an average of 61.12 which includes 15 centuries since the 2015 WC. Dhawan also got among the runs after a few poor performances when he slammed a breathtaking 143 at Mohali. Dhawan and Rohit together are also the all-time second-best opening duo for India. So, no tinkering required there. Also, with Virat Kohli being the best player in the team there is no need to disturb his position just to fit in an out-of-form KL Rahul.

Now comes the No 4 position. Many players have auditioned for that spot like Ambati Rayudu, Shreyas Iyer, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni and more recently Bijay Shankar. Shankar has not been all that bat, he also has an added advantage where he can also chip in with the ball. What makes Shankar even more special for the side is he can add value in the field as well. Former India captain MS Dhoni can slot in at the No 5 spot followed by Kedar Jadhav who has done enough to get picked. Jadhav can also add value with the ball on a low, slow and sluggish wicket. Hardik Pandya once fit comes straight back into the team. His hitting ability makes him a must in the side.

The pacers for the first game could be Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Bumrah pips Shami to the team because Bhuvi has shown he can bat if the team needs him to. Finally, the spinners would be Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, the duo has done well in tandem with each other.

India’s Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Vijay Shankar, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah