The defending champions will be led by Virat Kohli, under whom India have not lost a series yet © Getty Images
The defending champions will be led by Virat Kohli, under whom India have not lost a series yet © Getty Images

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced 15-member squad for ICC Champions Trophy 2017, commencing June 1 in England. The defending champions will be led by Virat Kohli, under whom India have not lost a series yet. However, Rohit Sharma will make his comeback to international cricket after being out of action due to thigh injury he had sustained in November 2016. To partner him at the opening slot will be Shikhar Dhawan who was the highest run-scorer of the previous edition of Champions Trophy. Meanwhile, Ravindra Jadeja — the highest wicket-taker of the same edition — will share the spin department with Ravichandran Ashwin.

India will play their first game against arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston, on June 4. The last time these two teams met was in ICC World 2016 at Eden Gardens in Kolkata. With the help of Kohli’s unbeaten 66, India had chased a meagre 119 off 15.5 overs. However, Pakistan may not have beaten India in World Cup, but the scoreline reads 2-1 when it comes to Champions Trophy. India will then face Sri Lanka and South Africa at Kennington Oval.

India retained the middle order they had drafted against England earlier in 2017. MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, who had added 256 runs at Cuttack, are likely to bat at No. 4 and 5 (not in the same order). Following them, as a finisher, will come Kedar Jadhav. Meaning, Manish Pandey will play as a reserve player.

India have drafted four pacers in their armoury: Mohammad Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and Jasprit Bumrah. In addition, to bolster both batting and bowling departments, India have the services the ever-improving Hardik Pandya. All the same, India are likely to go through selection conundrum. Umesh and Bhuvneshwar have been in stellar form in Indian Premier League 2017, while Jasprit is India’s go-to bowler in the death over. Meanwhile, Shami, despite being hampered by injuries, has taken 87 wickets in 47 match, at an average of 24.80 and economy 5.54.

MSK Prasad, Chairman of selectors, believes Dhoni is India’s best wicketkeeper. “We cannot consider Dhoni’s form as batsman only. His contribution as keeper cannot be matched. We all believe that MSD is still the best keeper in the world. Best person to guide Virat, invaluable for the team.”

Prasad also mentioned the list of standby players. “We considered Rishabh Pant, Kuldeep Yadav, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, and Shardul Thakur who are in our standby list for Champions Trophy.”

Prasad also shed light on chinaman Kuldeep Yadav. “We discussed Kuldeep Yadav who would have been a solid player. He narrowly missed out.”

Squad: Virat Kohli (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, MS Dhoni (wk), Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Manish Pandey