After a heavy dose of Twenty20 cricket, the focus is, once again, back on the all-important ICC World Cup 2019. Unfortunately, Kedar Jadhav, playing for Chennai Super Kings (CSK), picked up an injury in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and now his availability is uncertain. Jadhav is a very important player for India in One Day International (ODI) cricket and if he doesn't recover on time, it could be a huge blow for India.

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Interestingly, the selectors have named Ambati Rayudu and Axar Patel as "possible replacements" for Jadhav, if needed. These two names have sparked a big debate among Indian cricket fans because none of these two have experience of batting at the number six position in ODI cricket and there is nothing encouraging or fancy about their recent form. 

What has changed in one month?

Rayudu, who was initially ignored by the selectors, had a very mediocre IPL season with the bat. He scored 282 runs at an average of 23.50 and looked like a player who was low on confidence and self-esteem. His name as a 'possible replacement' for Jadhav is a bit confusing and it shows that the selectors are not able to handle the problem of plenty.

When Vijay Shankar was picked ahead of Rayudu in the World Cup 2019 squad, the chief selector MSK Prasad gave the reason that Shankar is a three-dimensional player. Firstly, number four is a very important batting position in ODI cricket and the only criteria for its selection should be batting skills. To play a 'bits and pieces' player at number four highlights selectors' lack of trust in the bowling department, which is a bit surprising because India have one of the best bowling attacks in the world in ODI cricket. Also, Rayudu is a batsman who takes time at the start of his innings and this makes him a misfit for the number six spot. His strike rate in IPL 2019 was 93.06.

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It is hard to understand what exactly has changed in one month and why the selectors are willing to back an out of form Rayudu to replace Kedar Jadhav? 

Is Axar Patel good enough to bat at number six?

Axar's name as a 'possible replacement' for Jadhav is even more confusing because he hasn't done anything noteworthy in the last 12 months or so. Number six is again a very crucial batting position and it requires good hitting skills and, more importantly, finishing skills which Axar hasn't shown in his career, so far. It can be easily said that his batting skills are nowhere close to Jadhav.

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India has already picked three spinners — Ravindra Jadeja, Kuldeep Yadav, and Yuzvendra Chahal — in their squad for World Cup. It is, again, hard to understand the logic behind picking one more spinner, and especially when Axar's batting skills aren't tested and he hasn't done anything significant with the bat in his career.

It is always good to have a sixth bowling option, especially in ODI cricket, but the primary requirement for a number six batsman has to be good batting skills. 

Who should replace Kedar Jadhav, if needed?

India must pick a batsman who has the skills of playing big strokes and playing quick cameos in the last phase of the innings. Rishabh Pant emerges as a strong candidate for the number six spot in the absence of Jadhav because he has the ability to score quick runs and, in IPL 2019, he batted well with the tailenders and finished many games for Delhi Capitals.