India are expected to go in with a 16 member squad in their Champions Trophy title defense.
The ICC Champions Trophy is scheduled to begin on June 1 in England. While most of the players are busy playing in the Indian Premier League, team managements of all teams are busy fretting over the availability of their players and possible team combinations. For early, Bangladesh national team is set to leave for England on April 26.
India are the defending champions and are also the favourites to win the mega tournament. They are scheduled to play two practice games – one against the Kiwis on May 28 and the other against Asian neighbours Bangladesh on May 30 – before they play their first game of the tournament against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 4. This is a widely anticipated match, for obvious reasons, ever since the fixtures of the Champions Trophy were announced.
India play their next two group games against Sri Lanka and South Africa on June 8 and June 11 respectively. The squad for the tournament will be announced in next few days, as the selectors are keeping an eye on the ongoing IPL. While most of the squad select themselves, there are a couple of spots up for grabs. Let us have a look at the Predicted squad of the defending champions.
Openers: Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane
Rohit Sharma walks back into the squad. He missed the England ODI series due to an injury, but otherwise, he has cemented his position as an opener in the Indian Team. By the time the tournament is close, Rohit will have enough match practice ahead of his international comeback.
KL Rahul is expected to partner him at the top of the order. Currently, he underwent a shoulder surgery. Rahul should be fit ahead of this tournament. He has done well to warrant a place at the top of the order in the ODI Team as well.
Indian Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane will be the other opener in the squad. It will be a tight contest between Dhawan and Rahane but because they are playing in England, Rahane is more suited to play in these conditions.
Middle Order Batsmen: Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni and Manish Pandey
The middle order has a good mix of youth and experience. Virat Kohli will occupy his favourite No. 3 spot and will also lead the squad. This will be only his second ODI series as a full-time captain. Since making a memorable comeback in the ODI side, Yuvraj has looked in good touch. His 150 against England at Cuttack showed what this elegant left-hander is still capable of doing. Yuvraj Singh will bat at the No. 4 spot. Kohli has backed him to come good on a number of occasions.
Dhoni gave Yuvraj company in his scintillating innings and made 134 himself. Both were involved in a stand of 256 runs for the 4th wicket. Dhoni is still crucial to this ODI set-up as he brings so much to the table. He will also don the big gloves behind the stumps.
Jadhav was given chances in the middle order in the series against England and he responded by scoring 232 runs in 3 innings at a strike rate of 144 which included a match-winning 76-ball 120. He is so destructive at the back end of the innings and knows exactly where the gaps are. Jadhav has been the biggest find in recent times.
After getting off to a great start in his ODI career, Manish Pandey struggled in the home series against the Kiwis in October last year. Despite his struggles, he was retained in the ODI series against England but did not get a game. He will still be part of this series for he has been sensational in the IPL so far.
Spinners: Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Yuzvendra Chahal
Ashwin and Jadeja are more of all-rounders but their main job in the ODI set-up is to bowl tight spells in the middle overs. Both were in exceptional form during the home Test season.
They did a fantastic job on India’s road to victory in the ICC Champions Trophy 2013 and there is no reason why they can’t repeat their heroics this time around.
Yuzvendra Chahal might get a wild card entry due to his solid performances in T20 cricket. He picked up a 6-wicket haul in the last T20 game he played for India and became the first player from India to pick 5 or more wickets in international T20s.
Fast bowlers: Umesh Yadav, Mohammad Shami, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah
After a splendid home Test season, where he bowled his heart out and showed his versatility, Umesh Yadav will lead the Indian attack in this tournament. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has impressed many with his performances in the IPL.
Bumrah too is capable of bowling those pinpoint yorkers and has had a great start to his ODI career. Shami has made a comeback from injury and can be a good option in English conditions. Kohli has been vocal about his likeliness of both Shami and Umesh. All four fast bowlers are expected to be on the flight to England though only two will start in the XI.