A majority of the Indian cricket fans haven’t concurred with the 15-man squad picked by the MSK Prasad-led selection committee. The fact that the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina, and Rishabh Pant haven’t made the Indian team for Champions Trophy 2017, has disillusioned the fans of these cricketers in particular. And, to be fair, Gambhir, Raina and Pant had enjoyed good IPL seasons until May 8, when the squad was announced after much protraction. The general consensus was that IPL performances will be taken into account at the time of picking the Champions Trophy squad. However, Prasad, the chairman of selectors, implicitly said in the press conference, that even though they respect the Indian Premier League, factors like the conditions where this tournament is going to be played in (England), were considered too.
Cricfooty had forecasted India’s squad for this eight-team event and also concurs with at least 86.66% of the selection. What we haven’t agreed with are as follows:
- The selectors’ decisions to stick with a non-performing Ajinkya Rahane
- And secondly, not pick Pant, who will have provided greater flexibility with his ability to bat from Nos. 1-7
Moving on, here’s the complete Indian Champions Trophy 2017 squad: Virat Kohli (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, and Jasprit Bumrah
May 18 Update: A rib injury sustained in a practice session has cost Manish Pandey his place in India’s Champions Trophy 2017 squad and the Karnataka batsman’s place has gone to Dinesh Karthik, who scored 361 runs in 13 innings for Gujarat Lions. The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman last played an ODI for India in 2014 and was part of the five reserve players the Indian selectors had named precisely in anticipation of such an occcurrence
India’s best and likely playing XI in the Champions Trophy 2017
Now, though Virat Kohli has a good crop of players at his disposal, he and the team management have to get the playing combination right. And, in a short tournament, no team has the time to experiment and figure out their best playing XI as they go along.
Not all the batsmen who have been picked, will go into the eighth edition of this tournament with runs under their belt. For instance, Shikhar Dhawan has garnered close to 500 runs already in IPL 2017 and will be in a good frame of mind. But the same cannot be said about all the other batsmen, including captain Kohli.
On the flip side, the bowlers who are likely to feature in India’s clash against Pakistan on June 4, will have had good IPL seasons and consequently, be in a good bowling rhythm. They still will have to bowl the English length, which is fuller than what you will bowl in an ODI played in India, and adjust to the prevalent conditions.
At the Champions Trophy, India will go back to the tried and tested pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at the top of the order. Dhawan (363 runs) and Rohit (177 runs) were India’s top run-getters in the seventh edition of this tournament and though people might not agree, Dhawan and Rohit form India’s best opening partnership at the moment. They complement each other well and in recent times, have delivered the goods more often than not.
The middle order picks itself, with Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni being India’s Nos. 3, 4 and 5. Despite their form in the lead-up to the tournament, Team India need Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni to come good. Kedar Jadhav will slot in at No. 6 and be a key component as well. Against quality bowling attacks as Pakistan’s and South Africa’s, the Indian batting line-up will have their task cut-out. And how they fare in the tournament will determine if the Men in Blue successfully defend the title.
Hardik Pandya, in my opinion, will be one of the two all-rounders who make the Indian playing XI for their first group B match. The younger Pandya is more of a complete bowler these days than he was in the earlier part of 2016. He is deceptively quick, swings the ball both ways and has a good bouncer in him as well. And, needless to say, he is one of India’s better fielders. Hardik is a capable batsman, but this is his first proper overseas tour with the national side, and we need to see if his batting technique is good enough to garner runs in England.
The other all-rounder is likely to be Ravindra Jadeja, who again is a very good fielder and in ODIs, is better with the bat than Ravichandran Ashwin is.
The three seamers for India are likely to be Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah. This selection is with keeping in mind the seaming conditions in England, the bowlers who will have been in good rhythm during the IPL and of course, render balance.
Bhuvneshwar, Umesh and Bumrah are pacey, but they have subtle differences between them and therefore will provide variety to the bowling attack: Bhuvneshwar is an out-and-out swing bowler and of late, with an increase in his pace, has shown himself capable of bowling the death overs too; Umesh Yadav bowls two lengths (the good length and the fuller, driving length) and is the fastest of this trio; Bumrah is a bit of an unconventional bowler and his forte is death bowling, though he’s a wicket-taker as well.
Mohammed Shami, in my opinion, will not get into the playing XI straight away.
Team India’s playing XI: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Shikhar Dhawan, 3. Rohit Sharma, 4. Yuvraj Singh, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10. Umesh Yadav, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah