By Arjun Bhardwaj for LastWordOnCricket
Every other team have submitted their Champions Trophy squad list except for India. They controversially missed the deadline for submission, which was on April 25th. There are some fears that India may not take part in the competition, after the ICC are considering limiting India’s share in revenue. However, the official statement coming out of India is that they were unable to hold a selection meeting due to the ongoing IPL, which means that it is hard for the necessary figures to meet at the same place. It is more than likely that India will take part, though, and so selectors must be thinking about who should be selected for the men in blue. This article looks at who India should include and leave out for their squad to play in England.
India have recently struggled to find a settled opening partnership and they go into this tournament without a clear opening pair. They have four potential openers to choose from: Rohit Sharma, Lokesh Rahul, Ajinknya Rahane and Shikhar Dhawan. Lokesh Rahul opened in each of India’s ODI matches against England but he didn’t have a consistent partner. For the first two matches, Shikhar Dhawan opened with him, but he was then dropped for Ajinkya Rahane in the third. None of the openers really got going in that series and they severely missed the injured Rohit Sharma. However, now that the “hitman” is back, Rohit is more than likely to have a certain spot at the top of this Indian batting unit. His recent form in the IPL has been excellent and he seems nearly back to his best. Yet, none of the three other candidates have been in that good form recently. Rahul has been sidelined from the IPL with a shoulder injury, and both Dhawan and Rahane have looked weak and out of touch. Heading into the Champions Trophy, Ajinkya Rahane should be selected as India’s other opener due to his impressive record in England. In India’s 2014 tour of England, Rahane was India’s best batman and his experience makes him preferential to the other two.
It goes without saying that Indian captain Virat Kohli will play a key role in this India side. England is one of the few countries where he has been unable to score many runs and this will be a good chance to establish himself as the best limited overs player in the world. He holds the key to India’s chance as he will be captaining this side as well. India’s middle order could comprise of veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh, keeper MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav. Yuvraj Singh was recalled to India’s ODI squad for the series against England and he looked in decent touch. Moreover, his recent IPL form has been excellent as he has proven he is still one of the most aggressive batsmen in cricket at the moment.
Like with Virat Kohli, the place of keeper MS Dhoni is never in doubt. The Indian legend is set to bat at five in this India side, but is relatively flexible in where he can bat. Dhoni skippered India to a superb Champions Trophy victory with India in 2013 and he will be looking to be part of another winning side here.
Over the past home season, Kedar Jadhav has established himself as an extremely talented limited overs batsman. He has been scoring his runs at a very fast rate, and he was one of India’s highest ODI run scorers in their series against New Zealand and England. It has been great to see him carry this form into the IPL, where he has been prolific for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Moreover, his handy off-spin picked up lots of wickets against New Zealand and makes him an even better inclusion in this India side. One player who will probably be unable to break into this middle order is Hardik Pandya. The fast-bowling all-rounder is unlikely to start, but he should be included in the squad. On seaming pitches in England, it is likely that India will opt for three specialist seamers, as Pandya’s bowling on its own is not enough to merit a place in this side.
As has been the case for many years, India’s spin attack will consist of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. Both of these spinners are at the top of the ICC Test Rankings and have enjoyed plenty of success recently. Injuries due to their immense workload meant that both players missed the majority of the IPL, but Jadeja has now returned to action for the Gujarat Lions. Recently leg spinner Yuzvendra Chahal has been on the fringes of India’s limited overs team. He notably took an impressive 6-23 in the Third T20I against England at his home ground in Bangalore. Unlike in India, the English pitches are not likely to offer much turn at all and so playing three spinners would be pointless. This would mean that Chahal won’t get much of an opportunity to play, but he should definitely be included in the squad in case Ashwin struggles abroad like he has done in the past.
Picking India’s seam attack is for once a relatively straight forward task. India’s selectors cannot ignore the talented Bhuvneshwar Kumar who has been excellent in this year’s IPL. Kumar manages to engineer the most swing out of any of the Indian pacers, but he is significantly lower in pace. He will be perfectly adapted to the green English pitches and he will be a real threat with the new ball. The two seamers to support him are likely to be Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav. These two quicks have impressed recently, especially Yadav who has become a much more economical bowler. It is unlikely that the Indian selectors will leave out Ishant Sharma, a very experienced bowler, so he is likely to be also include in the squad although he will not be the first choice to start.
Possible Champions Trophy Squad:
Virat Kohli (C), Ravichandran Ashwin, Yuzvendra Chahal, MS Dhoni (Wk), Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav