ICC Champions Trophy: Who will win the race to Indian cricket team
With the ICC Champions Trophy less than a month away, and the BCCI expected to announce the squad anytime (the deadline was April 25), HT takes a look at who is certain to make the cut and who stand the best chance among the rest in the 15-player side.
The 13 who are expected to be on the flight to London:
Batsmen: Virat Kohli (c), Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Kedar Jadhav, KL Rahul (subject to fitness).
All-rounders: Hardik Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Ravindra Jadeja.
Wicket-keeper: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Pace bowlers: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah.
Spinner: Ravichandran Ashwin (subject to fitness)
This leaves scope for a maximum of four more slots to be filled --- especially if Rahul and Ashwin miss out due to fitness. The selectors then are likely to pick a third opener, spinner/middle-order batsman, and a fast bowler.
These are the players in the reckoning:
* Shikhar Dhawan is a likely option given his steady IPL performances. He also has the advantage of being a left-hander.
* Robin Uthappa, a member of India’s victorious 2007 World T20 squad, is in excellent nick in the IPL, can keep wicket and looks determined to impress the selectors again.
* Gautam Gambhir, 35, is again solid with the bat for Kolkata Knight Riders, though he may have to battle for a slot, especially if selectors pick Dhawan.
* Mohammed Shami: If fit, he is a certainly. But his playing only three games for Delhi Daredevils raises some doubt whether he is free of the knee trouble that sidelined him during the home international season.
* Ashish Nehra: The veteran still bowls at pace and will be effective in English conditions. He also figured in the 2016 World T20 event, but he is likely only as a back-up seamer.
Middle-order batsman/specialist spinner:
* Manish Pandey: Stands a good chance if selectors pick an extra batsman instead of an extra specialist spinner.
Other spinners in contention:
* Kuldeep Yadav: The left arm chinaman bowler is having a good IPL after a wonderful Test debut.
* Harbhajan Singh: His sheer experience, and ability to choke the run-flow, can work in his favour while he is also handy with the bat. But he is likely to come into reckoning only if Ashwin does not play.
* Yuzvendra Chahal: The leg-spinner has again been Royal Challengers Bangalore’s go-to bowler, and their leading wicket-taker with 11 scalps.
* Amit Mishra: The seasoned leggie has had an average IPL season, but his experience may get the selectors’ backing.