Cricket

Published on May 9th, 2017 | by Suraj Choudhari

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Investing in experience ahead of IPL, a masterstroke by the selectors

At first, the news of India’s participation in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy being in jeopardy made rounds. The conflict between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the International Cricket Council (ICC) regarding the new revenue model, which would cost India a handsome amount took many twists and turns. After a lot of ups and downs, BCCI finally cleared the air and India were up for the contest. As per the new financial structure adopted by the ICC, Indian will gain a share of US$293 from ICC events till 2023 instead of the Big-Three formula (US $570).

On Monday, the selection committee finally named the 15-member squad, which will be touring England and Wales for the coveted tournament commencing from June 1. The selection was supposed to be held on April 25, but the process got delayed and then came April 8. The Indian side, which will be led by Virat Kohli will battle it out and try to defend their ICC Champions Trophy title. Selectors made some commendable picks and have once again invested in experience instead of Twenty20 (T20) fire.

Very often a player gets picked for the national side riding on some prolific performances in the Indian Premier League. It makes total sense and the move is highly justified as long as the format is T20. Make no mistake, Indian Premier League is one of the most star-studded and completive tournaments in the world but the not very flashy domestic tournaments certainly hold a lot of importance. And the selection of this Indian ICC Champions Trophy squad is a testament to it.

On most of the occasions, the squad for such a coveted tournament becomes easy to foretell. Players certainly don’t get a berth overnight and have to drill hard to gain a spot. Players like Gautam Gambhir, Robin Uthappa, Rishabh Pant, Rahul Tripathi, Sanju Samson, Kuldeep Yadav and Jaydev Unadkat made their presence unavoidable with some impactful performances in the IPL so far. But the fact that none of them made it to the side demonstrated the importance of domestic cricket in India. One-Day Internationals (ODIs) is a different ball game altogether. The format gets elongated and one needs solid temperament and technique to excel. In saying so, none of the above-mentioned players lack these qualities but the one’s who made it to the squad have proved it in the recent times.

It’s a sensible move to grant the golden opportunity to someone who has the experience; it’s a safe yet shrewd move. There was a big question lying ahead of the selectors regarding the opening slots but they didn’t contemplate a lot and went for the pair of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan as first-choice openers and Ajinkya Rahane being the reserve one. Dhawan grabbed the Man-of-the-series award when India won the title back in 2013 while Rohit has successfully recovered from his thigh injury and played all the games for Mumbai Indians in the IPL and gave a testament to his fitness.

Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav had a memorable run in the ODI series against England earlier this year and the selectors have persisted with their experience and firepower in the middle for the big tournament. Yuvraj has looked more comfortable in longer formats where he gets enough time to get his eyes in as compared to T20s. Again, none of them have had a great IPL season so far.

For MS Dhoni the questions are – Who is the best wicket-keeper in the world at the moment? Is there a better wicket-keeper than MS Dhoni in contemporary cricket? Well, Dhoni’s lightning quick glove work behind the stumps and a productive England series worked in his favour. After stepping down from the shorter formats captaincy, Dhoni has enough breathing space to focus on his batting and his maverick approach in the death overs cannot be overlooked. He is still one of the best finishers in the game indubitable deserves that wicket-keeping spot in the side.

R Ashiwn didn’t play a single game in the IPL due to sports a hernia but has been picked while Ravindra Jadeja has been retained. Considering the English conditions, selectors had to back their pace artillery and that’s the reason they picked just two spinners, which had to be the experienced pair of Ashwin and Jadeja. Kuldeep Yadav was the strongest contender for any spot available but has to wait for his chances as of now. Manish Pandey didn’t play a single game in the ODI series against England but grabs a spot here.

Indian’s pace attack hails of Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Burmah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami. Watching these bowlers bowl renders bowling a joy to behold. Umesh had a fantastic home season and has transcended as a bowler while Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s rise has been irresistible. Jasprit Bumrah has been India’s go-to bowler in the death while Shami returns after successfully recovering from a mistimed injury. Shami was India’s bestsellers bowler in the 2015 World Cup but didn’t feature in a single game since then. India have plenty of bowling options to choose from along with the all-rounder services of Hardik Pandya.

As a back-up, they have shortlisted five players in case there is a replacement needed. Dinesh Karthik, Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav and Shardul Thakur will be training at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. Barring Raina, all four of them had a magnificent home season and were expected to chisel their path into the squad. Raina has firepower and experience to deliver in crunch situations, which could come handy in the middle. Raina got priceless runs against Australia and Pakistan in the 2011 World Cup quarter-final and semi-final respectively. The squad seems to be a balanced on and will India retain their Champions Trophy totally relies on their performance. As of now, the whole world is anxiously waiting for India’s opening clash against Pakistan on June 4 at Edgbaston.

India squad: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah.

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About the Author

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Suraj Choudhari is a freelance sports journalist. He is an avid follower of the game and played the sport at club level. With a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, he tries to express it through paper and pen.



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