As the BCCI finally confirmed Indian team’s participation in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy starting on June 1, we look at the probable Indian squad for the defending champions of the tournament.
With KL Rahul almost ruled out because of the shoulder injury sustained during the test series against Australia at home, the Indian selectors have essentially 3 players to choose from; Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan.
Rohit Sharma is a certainty, despite not having a very prolific IPL till now, since he was out because of an injury during the 5th ODI against New Zealand in Vishakhapatnam. Things haven’t been great for Ajinkya Rahane either. Since his century against New Zealand in the 3rd test in Indore, Rahane has failed to score a hundred in any of the formats. Even in the IPL as well, since the first game where he stroked a 37-ball 60, Rahane has failed to get a move on and has been completely overshadowed by the youngster Rahul Tripathi. 248 runs at an average of 20.7 with a strike rate of 120 must been seen as a below par for Rahane.
Shikhar Dhawan, on the other hand, does have some runs under his belt in this year’s IPL. 388 runs at an average of 35.3, but a strike rate of 127 isn’t where it should be for an opening batsman in T20.
So the selectors will have a tough choice to make if they indeed decide on selecting just 2 openers, but the possibility is that all 3 of them will most likely make it to the India’s squad for the Champions Trophy.
Middle Order Batsmen:
The Middle Order for the series against England and New Zealand pretty much consisted of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kedhar Jadhav. Expect selectors to retain all of them in the squad with Dhoni batting higher than number 6 in batting order and the finishing duties resting in the hands of Kedar Jadhav.
However, the form of Virat Kohli will be a worry for the Indian Team Management.
No surprises here. If both Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin are fit, they should be the two spinners which India should take them to England. Amit Mishra will feel unlucky to miss out because he took a 5 wicket haul in the last ODI he played for India, but the conditions in England really don’t require a 3rd spinner, and even if more overs of spin are needed, Yuvraj Singh along with Rohit can contribute as part time bowlers.
Expect Hardik Pandya to be part of the squad specially after the consistent performances he gave in the series against New Zealand and England at home, along with his contributions for Mumbai Indians in this year’s IPL.
Jadeja, Ashwin and Pandya will be expected to provide to support to the middle order batsmen to give innings the impetus needed in the last 10 overs.
Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami should all make it to the squad if there are no injury concerns for any of them. With these four pacers, India pretty much have all their bases covered in terms of the fast bowling.
Bhuvneshwar is currently the leading wicket taker in this year’s IPL and he along with Bumrah in the last year or so, has shown that they have pretty much mastered the art of bowling in the death overs. Umesh Yadav has been revelation ever since Kohli has become captain and the likes of Mohammed Shami are as skilful as they can get.
This makes the squad size up to 14. Now the question is, who will be India’s 15th member in the Champions Trophy Squad?
The 15th Member
In the last two home series, the likes of Mandeep Singh, Jayant Yadav, Manish Pandey, Dhawal Kulkarni, Axar Patel, Suresh Raina, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rishabh Pant, Amit Mishra have made it to the limited overs squad of the Indian team.
One can safely say that Mandeep Singh, Jayant Yadav and Dhawal Kulkarni will not be in the contention for that extra spot in the squad. Now a few cases arise:
Axar Patel has had a better IPL than Ravindra Jadeja both in terms of bat and ball. He has taken 13 wickets at an economy of 7.3 and an average of 20.30, along with it he has contributed 176 runs at an average of over 25 and a strike rate nearing 150. If selectors were to add another spin bowling option, expect Axar to get the nod ahead of Amit Mishra.
Selectors go for another middle order batsman. The options in front of selectors are going for an experienced batsman (Suresh Raina), retaining the existing member (Manish Pandey) or going for another wicket keeping option (in that case picking either of Rishabh Pant, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson or Dinesh Karthik).
After Pant’s scintillating innings against Gujarat the other day in Kotla, the popular sentiment and the public pressure will tempt the selectors to pick him, but if IPL stats are anything to go by, then expect Manish Pandey to retain his place in the team and be the 15th member.
Though Suresh Raina has scored 395 runs at an average of just under 50 and at a strike rate of 145 and Robin Uthappa has scored runs at the fastest pace (Strike rate of 172) among top 10 run getters at an average of 42.7, it would be unfair on the selector’s part to drop Manish Pandey without any failure.
However, you may never know what is the thinking of Kohli, Kumble and selectors and Suresh Raina might just get the nod.
Probable XI: Rohit, Rahane, Kohli(c), Yuvraj, Dhoni, Jadhav, Ashwin, Jadeja, Pandya/Bhuvneshwar, Umesh, Shami/Bumrah