Veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh is hopeful that he can make a “meaningful contribution” in India’s Champions Trophy title defence during the June 1-18 marquee event in England. “I am delighted to be returning to the India side for the 50-over ICC tournament and look forward to making a meaningful contribution as the side aims to defend its title,” Yuvraj was quoted as saying in an ICC statement. “Like any other ICC tournament, it will be a challenging event with each team arriving there believing it can lift the silverware on 18 June at The Oval.”
Yuvraj, who will be playing in the ICC Champions Trophy after a hiatus of 11 years, however said it would be easier said than done against top cricketing nations of the world. Yuvraj made his debut in the 2002 event in Kenya and featured in all events until 2006, before missing the 2009 and 2013 editions of the tournament. India are clubbed with Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka in one of the two groups.
“We are in a tough group, but at the same time we are a form side following a highly successful domestic season. We will target to carry forward the winning momentum into the ICC Champions Trophy so that we can become the second side after Australia to win back to back titles,” said Yuvraj, who has played 296 matches for the country.
Yuvraj said with plenty of NRIs settled in the UK, India have always felt at home while playing there. “The United Kingdom is an excellent location to host the ICC Champions Trophy. We have always felt at home away from home due to the overwhelming support we always receive there,” he said.
India has retained eight players from the successful team of 2013, namely Virat Kohli, who will captain India for the first time in a major ICC event, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
Jadeja won the player of the final at Edgbaston four years ago following his 33 not out and two for 24 in a rain- reduced final, while Dhawan won the player of the tournament award for finishing as the lead run-scorer with 363 runs in five matches with two centuries and a half-century. For Dhoni, it will be his fourth appearance. While a number of players will be returning to this short and sharp tournament, Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik stands out as he has been selected for his sixth successive tournament.
Only eight other players have played in six ICC Champions Trophy tournaments. They are Ricky Ponting (Australia), Rahul Dravid (India), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand), Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis (both South Africa) and Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara (all Sri Lanka). All the teams can make changes to their squads without needing an ICC approval until May 24. All player replacement requests from May 25 onwards will require the approval of the Event Technical Committee.