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India once again is on a path to rebuild after their failure in ICC events last year. Ringing in big changes, the men in blue are starting afresh with the 2023 ODI World Cup in mind. New-look India has Rohit Sharma as the white ball captain with maestro Virat Kohli continuing as skipper for the Test match format.

A change in the guard of the management structure too will see Rahul Dravid replace Rabi Shastri as the head coach. The upcoming ODI series against South Africa will be the first one under his guidance. So without much further adieu, today we take a look at the strongest XI that Team India can assemble.

1) KL Rahul (Captain)

The Indian opener had a memorable year last year and was appointed captain for the ODI series due to the unavailability of Rohit Sharma due to injury. With exquisite technique and the ability to remain calm, many have backed KL Rahul to be the ideal skipper. With an average of 48.68, including 5 centuries and 9 half-centuries, the stand-in skipper will be expected to score runs in plenty.

2) Shikhar Dhawan

With high competition for the opener slot, Shikhar Dhawan edges out Ruturaj Gaikwad due to his experience in the field and his consistency. Even after being dropped from the national side, The Indian batsman has been a constant presence in the domestic league, scoring the big runs. With much left to prove, Shikhar Dhawan will be a man on a mission.

3) Virat Kohli

A shoo-in for the number 3 spot, no questions asked. Batting maestro Virat Kohli had a torrid time the last two years, still awaiting his 71st century. Kohli will be given a new lease of life, relieved of his skipper duties with less burden on his shoulder. If failing to perform, he will be facing some really hard questions from the fans and management alike.

4) Suryakumar Yadav

The right-handed batsman came into the national side after showcasing blockbuster plays in the domestic circuit, especially for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. Having made his debut against Sri Lanka, he already has 1 half-century to his name from 3 ODIs. With the ability to hit all around the park, this will be his opportunity to cement his place in the team.

5) Venkatesh Iyer

Adding fearlessness and explosive power, Venkatesh Iyer captured every cricket fan's heart with his performances in the Indian Premier League. With Hardik Pandya struggling for form, Venkatesh Iyer seems to be the perfect replacement in power and as a seam-bowling option. With dreams of playing in the red-ball format, the all-rounder will be looking to impress.

6) Ishan Kishan (wk)

Although Rishabh Pant is primed to don the gloves, another wicket-keeper from Bihar has risen displaying lionhearted displays in the Indian domestic circuit. Daring the creme de la creme paceman in the Indian premier league of international stature. We might get to see another success story of a keeper from Bihar.

7) Shardul Thakur

Proving to be an absolute game-changer, Shardul Thakur has the ability to smash the bowler for runs and pick up wickets against the run of play. Although his play might seem ordinary, as the English might testify, he is an absolutely dangerous player.

8) Ravichandran Ashwin

Even though it has taken time, people are slowly realizing the Indian spin wizard is truly one of the greats of the game. With absolute scintillating performances all around, the spinner has been recalled to the ODI side. With 111 ODIs to his name, Ashwin has picked 150 wickets with an economy of 4.92.

9) Bhuvneshwar Kumar

One of the senior pacemen of the ODI squad, the Indian speedster will be grasping at straws with his latest opportunity. With a host of youngsters coming into the ranks, Bhuceneshwar Kumar will have to perform above and beyond to keep his place in the team. Having featured in 119 ODIs picking up 141 wickets with an economy of 5.03, he has shown he is one of the best when it comes to modern-day cricket 

10) Jasprit Bumrah

One among the leading pace bowlers in the world, the yorker specialist is one of the first choice names on the team. With 108 wickets from 67 matches at an economy rate of 4.66, Jasprit Bumrah will be tasked to lead India’s pace attack.

11) Deepak Chahar

The pacer made a name for himself with a gritty 69 against Sri Lanka, winning the match for India. With absolute strength in batting and bowling, the Indian pacer is traveling with the test group as a nets bowler and making the ball swing both ways. Already acclimatizing himself to the conditions, he will be eager to make his mark.

With every player in the squad with a good enough case to be a part of the playing XI. We feel this is the best team India can field to try and win the series and build towards the 2023 ODI World Cup. Share your comments below, on who would you replace in this eleven.

Cover Credits: BCCIofficial