India took their time to name their squad for their Champions Trophy.
In fact, for some time it wasn’t even clear if they will be participating in the tournament as the tussle with the ICC over the new finance and governance model threatened to strain relations between the Indian board and world cricket’s governing body. But the decks have been cleared for India to defend the title they won in 2013.
The 15-member squad selected for the tournament starting in England next month doesn’t have too many surprises in it. In fact, it’s the lack of ‘new’ faces in the squad that has stood out.
The Indian selectors have played it safe and gone with tried and tested players given that the conditions in England require experienced heads.
However, some batsmen are not in the best of form and that is a major concern. With KL Rahul still nursing a shoulder injury the selectors opted for Shikhar Dhawan. But Dhawan is not the same player of 2013 who smashed 363 runs from five games in that editions of the Champions Trophy and played a pivotal role in India’s title run. Dhawan is not a regular member of the Indian team in all formats and in fact has only played two international matches – ODIs against England – in the past six months.
Rohit Sharma walks back into the team despite having been out of it for five months and playing only competitive cricket in the IPL.
Manish Pandey has been added to the team to beef up the batting, which now looks on shaky ground as Virat Kohli has suddenly hit a rough patch with the bat in the IPL following his hurried return from a shoulder injury. Therefore, the onus of holding the innings together will fall on the shoulders of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh in case the top order doesn’t fire.
The selectors could have picked wicketkeeper batsman Rishabh Pant as the x-factor player just to add some zest to the mix as he looks on top of his game with the bat. He has been kept on standby along with Suresh Raina and Dinesh Karthik but in a short tournament like the Champions Trophy where a team will play five matches at the most, it is highly unlikely they will be required.
The bowling is in good hands with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja in fine fettle. Mohammed Shami is returning from injury while Ravi Ashwin is on a break. But Shami has proven his fitness in the IPL so should be good to go because he has shown that he can hit the right lines immediately.
India have picked batsmen who have delivered in the past but look a bit uncertain about their game at the moment. They will travel to England with more than a few questions swirling in their heads.
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