Champions Trophy 2017: Delhi Daredevils’ Rishabh Pant in frame for India call-up
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Champions Trophy 2017: Delhi Daredevils’ Rishabh Pant in frame for India call-up

Unlike previous occasions, the Indian cricket team selectors will be more worried about the batting form of the players with Ajinkya Rahane and Virat Kohli not in their best in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and MS Dhoni’s credentials as a finisher diminishing. Rishabh Pant, who has been performing well for Delhi Daredevils, could add that batting X factor into the squad.

cricket Updated: May 07, 2017 20:29 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Champions Trophy 2017,ICC Champions Trophy,Indian team for Champions Trophy
Veteran spinner Amit Mishra (left) and young wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant have been in good form for Delhi Daredevils in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). With Ravichandran Ashwin out of reckoning with injury and the Indian cricket team’s batting form not exactly great in the IPL, the Daredevils duo might get the selectors nod when they meet to pick the squad for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 on Monday. (AFP)

Indian cricket team selectors are likely to focus discussions on the shaky form of key batsmen and the choice of spin bowlers in the absence of injured Ravichandran Ashwin when they pick the 15-player squad to defend the title in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 starting on June 1.

With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announcing on Sunday that Virat Kohli’s team will play in the eight-team event, fears of the national team becoming collateral damage in the board’s fight with International Cricket Council (ICC) have gone.

For once, chief selector MSK Prasad and his two colleagues will have little worry over the pace composition with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and all-rounder Hardik Pandya picking themselves.

Batting blues

However, for a change, the selectors are expected to pore over batting options and Delhi teenager Rishabh Pant could make his ODI team entry. Pace will be the biggest challenge provided by India’s major rivals South Africa, Australia and hosts England and the batsmen will have little time to shake off their IPL blues before the tournament starts.

And the two men expected to anchor the innings, Virat Kohli for Royal Challengers Bangalore since return from shoulder injury, and Ajinkya Rahane for Rising Pune Supergiant, look below their best.

Rohit Sharma is expected to return, having proved his fitness in the IPL following thigh surgery, but opener KL Rahul is out due to shoulder injury.

Dhoni’s successor

Former skipper MS Dhoni’s role as an assured finisher is diminishing. This could well be the swansong of the double World Cup-winning captain, who also led the team to the 2013 Champions Trophy title.

While Kedar Jadhav and Yuvraj Singh played brilliant knocks against England at home, in the last ODI series India played in January, the selectors could pick the 19-year-old Rishabh Pant.

It won’t be easy to tee off in English conditions suited for swing bowling, but Rishabh Pant showed in the last domestic season, and with his stunning 97 for Delhi Daredevils against Gujarat Lions, that he could provide the X factor. Rishabh Pant has already made his India debut, in the final T20 tie against England in Bangalore, remaining five not out in the big win.

Parthiv Patel and Manish Pandey, besides in-form domestic batsmen Rahul Tripathi (Rising Pune Supergiant) and Mumbai Indians’ Nitish Rana too are in the fringes, though they may find it tough to make the cut.

In spin bowling, seasoned Amit Mishra will face competition from fellow leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal, a rare bright spot for misfiring RCB this season after taking a record 6/25 in the last T20 against England in February. Left-arm spinner Axar Patel, who has also been solid with bat for Kings XI Punjab will also be in the reckoning.

First Published: May 07, 2017 19:56 IST