With the commencement of Champions Trophy drawing near, but doubts still persist over India’s participation in the tournament. The defending champions are yet to announce their squad for the 8-nation competition to be held in England.
A final call is expected to be taken in a day or two along with the announcement of the final 15-member team. While the participation call will be taken by BCCI, the selectors’ job has become tough after a series of impressive performances in the IPL from many players.
In this article, we try to look at the probable XI of Team India, selected strictly on the basis of their IPL 10 performance. The actual squad may entirely differ, but going by the current form we feel this is best XI possible.
OPENERS: GAUTAM GAMBHIR(C) AND SHIKHAR DHAWAN
With Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane having a lean patch with the bat, southpaws Gambhir and Dhawan form our opening pair for the Champions Trophy. While the KKR skipper has scored 411 runs from 11 innings, Dhawan too is not far behind with 369 runs under his belt from 10 matches. The duo is fighting to forge their way back to the national team and going by their IPL performance so far, they should make it. Rahul Tripathi could have been another contender but his experience rules him out.
MIDDLE ORDER: ROBIN UTHAPPA, SURESH RAINA, RISHABH PANT(Wk)
Currently fourth in the race for the Orange Cap, Uthappa has the highest strike among the top-10 scorers of the season. A couple of failures to start with, the Knights’ keeper has been a daunting prospect for bowlers thereafter. Though he got plenty of reprieves from opposition fielders, 384 runs from 9 innings at a strike rate of 170 clearly indicates the form he is in. His 21 sixes till now is only second to Warner’s 23.
Meanwhile, Raina’s last ODI came in October 2015 and the limited overs specialist is out of mix from the Indian team for long. However after scoring 395 runs from 11 games, the experienced batsman clearly showed he is far from being finished. While Yuvraj and Kedhar Jadhav are struggling in the tournament, Raina has been Gujarat Lions’ sole shining star is an otherwise dismal campaign.
After his decimating innings of 97 against Gujarat, young gun Rishbah Pant steals the wicket-keeping slot from his senior counterpart Dinesh Karthik in our XI. Dhoni is yet to set the stage on fire in this year’s IPL, but Pant’s clean hitting has been appreciated from all corners including Sachin Tendulkar. The hard-hitting batsman has scored 200 of his 281 runs in boundaries, with an identical number of sixes and fours.
ALL ROUNDERS: HARDIK PANDYA AND AXAR PATEL
Game-changing cameos down the order and scalping wickets at crucial junctures have been the hallmark of these two players in this season. While Pandya has been one of the unsung heros in Mumbai’s winning spree, Patel too has played his role to perfection for Kings XI. Presently, India’s highest ranked ODI bowler Axar has scalped 13 wickets from 10 games besides scoring runs at strike rate of 150. Pandya’s batting strike rate of 171 is higher than Patel, but he is yet to get much opportunity with the ball.
PACERS: BHUVNESHWAR KUMAR, SANDEEP SHARMA AND JASPRIT BUMRAH
21 wickets from 10 games at an economy of under 7, nobody will question Bhuvi’s place in our XI. Bhuvneshwar will have swing expert Sandeep and death-specialist Bumrah for company. Sandeep’s back-to-back Man of the Match awards have saw his wickets column rise to 14 while Bumrah has also taken 12 wickets from 10 matches. This potent trio covers all bases which is required in any fast bowling attack and can surely succeed in the favourable conditions of England.
SPINNER: YUZVENDRA CHAHAL
With 13 scalps from 11 games Chahal is the specialist spinner in our team. The leggie has had tremendous success in IPL which he translated in a T20I against England earlier this year, finishing with astonishing figures of 6/25 in 4 overs. His wicket-to-wicket bowling along with the deceptive googlies can quite a handful for any batting unit. With Jadeja looking rusty and Ashwin rested for IPL, Chahal is the best option for selectors to chose from considering the aspect of current form.