ICC Champions Trophy: Indian selectors opt for continuity, experience

India’s ICC Champions Trophy squad has just two changes to the one that beat England 2-1 in the home ODI series in January. Indian Premier League’s performances have been taken as a marker for future.
India, defending champions of ICC Champions Trophy, announced their squad for the 2017 edition on Monday.(AP)
India, defending champions of ICC Champions Trophy, announced their squad for the 2017 edition on Monday.(AP)
Updated on May 08, 2017 08:25 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By

Indian cricket selectors have opted for continuity and experience while naming the 15-member squad for next month’s ICC Champions Trophy, keeping Indian Premier League (IPL) performances as only a marker for the future.

Although IPL performances have drawn lot of attention, the three-member panel headed by former India stumper MSK Prasad have made just two changes to the squad which beat England 2-1 in the home ODI series in January.

Rohit Sharma’s return was expected once he proved his fitness after a thigh surgery and shoulder problem, while KL Rahul’s injury layoff means the man with two ODI double centuries is set to return as opener.

Read | ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Full team list of the top-eight nations

Preserving Ashwin

R Ashwin’s return is vital. India of late have asked players to prove their fitness by playing matches before being picked, but the selectors clarified the team management had spoke to Rising Pune Supergiant to allow the player who had sports hernia to rest.

That was important considering his workload. Starting with the West Indies Test tour in mid-2016, India’s main wicket-taker had bowled 869.2 overs in 16 Tests, not counting the all but washed out final game in Trinidad. The 30-year-old also bowled 21 overs in the England ODI series.

Read | ‘MS Dhoni world’s best keeper, never had a bad day in 15 years’

“The injury was not serious. The franchise was magnanimous enough to listen to our request to rest him. Rest is what Ashwin required as the last game that India played, he was there. That shows he is fit and not like others who are getting rehabilitated after surgery,” Prasad explained.

Shami factor

Mohammed Shami is the most skilled among India’s talented pace pack. He last played an ODI in the 2015 World Cup semifinal against Australia, and knee problems again surfaced during the England series and sidelined him.

But Shami’s pace and ability to swing the ball, conventionally or reverse, will give India the edge. Once he proved his fitness playing for Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and then for Delhi Daredevils, it came down only to his fitness.

Read | ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Ravi Shastri praises Indian cricket team selection

Shikhar Dhawan’s selection too reflects consistency. Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina are the batting standbys, but the left-handed opener who has come through injuries and a dip in form knows what it takes.

He was the Player-of-the-Tournament when India won in 2013. He has worked his way back in the domestic season and IPL. Shikhar’s technique could be tested against pace in English conditions though pitches for the 2013 Champions Trophy, also played in June, were ideal for batting with little lateral movement for seamers.

Backing Dhoni

Selecting only MS Dhoni as a specialist keeper is a vote of confidence to India’s limited-overs match-winner and a message that 19-year-old Rishabh Pant, who made his T20I debut against England, will have to wait for his turn.

It would also have been harsh to drop Yuvraj Singh or Kedar Jadhav after their aggressive, match-winning centuries in the England series while Manish Pandey has got few chances since his impressive debut series in Australia.

Team composition was another factor. Prasad said: “We definitely considered the name of Kuldeep Yadav (chinaman bowler). He would have been a surprise package but whether we would have played two spinners is a question. Since Yuvraj and Kedar can bowl spin, he narrowly missed out.”

India are in group B with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They play Pakistan in their first game on June 4 at Edgbaston.

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