India announce team for Champions Trophy

The selectors did not seem to consider performances in the Indian Premier League.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India on Monday named a 15-member squad for the ICC Champions Trophy, to be played in England and Wales from June 1. The 15-member squad, led by Virat Kohli, sees the return of Rohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami, while no new faces were introduced as the rest of the team is largely what it was for the last ODI series played by India, against England in January 2017.

The deadline to name squads for the Champions Trophy was April 25, on which date the other seven countries revealed theirs, but the BCCI delayed announcing India’s pool of players because of objections that a proposed ICC financial formulas would result in a loss of approximately $277 million from 2016 to 2023 to sports’ richest board.

The 15-member squad unveiled by chief selector MSK Prasad contained no real surprises.

Rohit Sharma returned from a thigh injury and the right-hander will be joined by southpaw Shikhar Dhawan, who owes his own comeback primarily to a shoulder injury for Lokesh Rahul. The selectors were also probably influenced by the fact that Dhawan was adjudged man-of-the-tournament when India won the last edition of the eight-team event, also held in England and Wales, four years ago.

“Ajinkya Rahane would be the back-up opener,” Prasad told reporters. Off-spinner Ashwin returned to the side after skipping the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) with a hernia and Prasad said it was more tactical than anything else.
“It was not really a serious injury. The franchise was magnanimous enough to accept our request to rest him,” Prasad explained. “He represented India in the last international game… It’s not like others who have undergone surgeries and are getting rehabilitated.”

The selectors considered left-arm unorthodox bowler Kuldeep Yadav before deciding a spin attack comprising Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, aided by part-timer Yuvraj Singh, should be sufficient. Kuldeep, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Rishabh Pant and Shardul Thakur were all put on a standby list. India’s pace attack was bolstered by the return of Mohammed Shami, whose recurring foot injuries kept him out of the one-day side since March 2015. Former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni retained his place in the squad amid whispers that the wicketkeeper-batsman’s ‘finisher’ reputation was on the wane.

“We only talk about his batting form, he’s an invaluable asset to this team,” Prasad said. “When it comes to crunch situation, his input… I think he has got one of the best brains, and is the best person to guide (skipper) Virat (Kohli).”
“In the last 10–12 years that MSD (Dhoni) played for his country, he never had a bad day with the gloves. We always treat him more like a batsman, not many appreciate the phenomenal work he has done behind the wickets.
“According to me, he’s still the best wicketkeeper in the world,” said Prasad, a former India stumper.

Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir, who has been performing well in the IPL, was not even discussed.

“As of now, we have picked Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma as openers and Ajinkya Rahane is the back-up opener,” Prasad replied when asked about Gambhir.

India won the previous edition of the one-day tournament, beating England by five runs in the final in 2013.

The eight-team tournament will be played between June 1–18, with defending champions India pooled with South Africa, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in Group B. Kohli’s team is scheduled to open its campaign on June 4 at Edgbaston against Pakistan, followed by matches with Sri Lanka on June 8 and South Africa on June 11, both at Kennington Oval.

Squad:

Virat Kohli (captain), MS Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Manish Pandey.

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