IPL 2017: Shikhar Dhawan, Bhuvneshwar Kumar boost India ahead of Champions Trophy
It’s a season of sixes, fours and entertainment – all celebrating the 10th Indian Premier League (IPL). But in less than a month, action will shift to the eight-team ICC Champions Trophy, which will be played in England and Wales from June 1.
Defending champions India are the only team not to announce their squad, and the April 25 deadline has long passed. The ongoing tussle between the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and International Cricket Council (ICC) has meant there is doubt over India’s participation in the marquee event.
Nonetheless, most of the players who are likely contenders for a spot in the India squad are in action at IPL 2017. The format and pitch conditions may be totally different from what they’ll get in England, but based on current form they may have issues to iron out.
Starting from the top, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been the preferred openers for long. But the former’s form was inconsistent in the last few international matches while the latter was out with injury.
Choice as openers
Dhawan, however, has shone in the IPL so far. His responsible yet effective show as Sunrisers Hyderabad opener has meant his team is in strong position to reach the IPL play-offs. The same cannot be said about Rohit Sharma. Though the Mumbai Indians skipper has scored two half-centuries in 10 matches, in the remaining eight games, he has reached double figures only once.
Ajinkya Rahane is another choice for opener but he too has battled inconsistent form since the India-Australia Test series, and has scored just one half-century so far in IPL 2017.
India captain Virat Kohli missed the early part of IPL due to shoulder injury but has made up for it with three half-centuries in seven innings. However, that was not enough to prevent Royal Challengers Bangalore from elimination.
The India middle order slots are most likely to be taken by MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav. All three have shown a glimpse of their potential but have not been on top of their game. Rising Pune Supergiant’s Dhoni has often got starts, but apart from a 61* against Sunrisers Hyderabad, has not done justice to his tag as a great finisher.
Veteran Yuvraj and the England ODI series hero Kedar Jadhav have been more inconsistent. Both have got a 60-plus score each, but have otherwise found the going tough.
Hardik Pandya has in recent times become a good option for India as a fast bowling all-rounder and he has shown decent form in IPL. He has played some small but crucial knocks for Mumbai Indians while having an economy of 8.00 with the ball.
One aspect which should be heartening for India is the form of the pacers. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav are among wickets. Bhuvi heads the list of top wicket-takers in IPL while Bumrah is seventh.
Mohammed Shami and Ashish Nehra, 38, are the other pace options. Nehra has been impressive though he has sat out a few matches while Shami, having just recovered from knee trouble, has got only two games.
There is no positive news in the spin department. Ravichandran Ashwin is out of IPL with a sports hernia injury while Ravindra Jadeja has failed to carry his wicket-taking momentum from international matches for Gujarat Lions. In eight matches, he has four wickets, and has failed to cross 30 while batting.
Batsmen Manish Pandey and Gautam Gambhir as well as leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal have been consistent and might get a look-in. Kolkata Knight Riders’ Pandey is an exciting young talent and was also part of the India-New Zealand ODI series.