Defending Champion India is on a roll after winning both their practice matches before the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 which is scheduled to start on June 1 in England. The team, under Virat Kohli, looks re-energised after the long Indian Premier League and is all set to defend the trophy they had claimed under former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni in 2013. What should play in India’s favour is that the Champions Trophy, like its last edition, will be organised in England. However, a lot of credit for India’s victory in the last edition could be given to the spin-friendly pitches the team played on. This year, that might not be the scenario. As we saw in all the warm-up matches, pace bowlers extracted movement both, from the air and the pitch. Besides, India’s premier spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin is recovering from an injury after what could be easily considered the toughest home season, the team had gone through in decades.
On the bright side, skipper Virat Kohli, who had been out of sorts since Australia’s tour of India, seems to have got his magical touch, back. Although, these performances have come in the warm-up matches and not too much should be read out of it. The team, however, spots an excellent pace attack, with both Umesh Yadav and Bhuvaneswar Kumar being in peak forms. Mohammed Shami, who is also returning from a prolonged injury seems to be getting back into the groove. Add Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja’s all-round abilities to that and we have ourselves a squad, more than capable of defending the trophy.
Here is the Indian squad for the tournament:
Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
Erase the Australian series and the Indian Premier League from memory and you will find that the Indian captain had one of the most glorious years that one could hope for, both as a batsman and a captain. Although Kohli’s record in England does not speak very highly of his exceptional skills, it must be noted that its been 4 years since the disastrous English tour. He will look to lead the team from the front. The Indian captain, known for his aggressive captaincy will be batting at no 3 and will need to take the bulk of a load of scoring as he has done in the last few years.
Former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will once again play an important role in India’s middle-order. Dhoni’s inputs from behind the stumps and nearly 10 years as the Indian captain is sure to help Kohli. Arguably the best finisher that limited overs cricket has seen, Dhoni would ideally like to bat at a no 4 and 5 and give himself time to finish the innings with a flourish.
Jasprit Bumrah has been one of the best finds for Indian cricket in last 12 months and could easily top the chart with his exceptional death bowling. If the IPL was any clue, the Indian team will need him to bowl in the last 10 overs of the game and squeeze the run rate down to a minimum. At 23, he is already the leader of India’s fast bowling attack and would be hoping to do well in his maiden England trip.
The world cup winning southpaw who had made his comeback to international cricket against England, earlier this year with a century looks in prime shape and even better form. If not injured, the veteran should play at no 5 and provide stability to the innings along with MS Dhoni. Both players form the spine of the Indian middle order with the added capability of exploding within a matter of a few overs.
List of matches for Indian team:
June 4: India v Pakistan, Birmingham, 3:00 PM (Group B)
June 8: India v Sri Lanka, London, 3:00 PM (Group B)
June 11: India v South Africa, London, 3:00 PM (Group B)
June 14: First Semi-final, Cardiff, 3:00 PM
June 15: Second Semi-Final, Birmingham, 3:00 PM
June 18: FINAL, London, 3:00 PM