The last time the Champions Trophy was played, it was an ominous occasion for Indian cricket. Some of the elements from then have carried on to now with venue being the biggest factor. England and Wales will once again play hosts for the initially scheduled bi-annual event.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni played crucial role for India as wicketkeeper and captain and then Virat Kohli seized the initiative in the rain-affect final to help beat England. Now Kohli has complete control over leadership of Team India – Tests, T20s and ODIs. But Dhoni still remains a distinguished presence – behind the stumps and with guidance to Kohli – even as the squad has changed complexion.
India’s 2013 squad included: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Dinesh Karthik, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Murali Vijay, Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav.
Of the 15 players named then, six don’t find their names in the squad for 2017 edition. But before addressing that, let’s take a look at the current squad: Kohli (captain), Rohit, Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, Dhoni(WK), Hardik Pandya, Jadeja, Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh, Mohammed Shami. Karthik came in as a replacement for injured Manish Pandey.
The combination for the 2013 squad had seven outright batsmen, three spinners and five seam bowlers. For the 2017 edition, that has changed to nine batsmen, two spinners and four seamers. The logical deduction made by chairman of selectors MSK Prasad for fewer spinners was that both Yuvraj and Jadhav can bowl and that meant Kuldeep Yadav (chinaman bowler) missed out.
When one puts the microscope on the two squads, the names from 2013 that didn’t move to 2017 are – Vinay, Pathan, Mishra, Ishant, Vijay and Raina.
Ishant is one big difference between the two squads. The lanky Delhi bowler is important part of India’s seam bowling effort in Tests but that doesn’t apply to the limited over contests. In 2013 Champions Trophy, he picked up two wickets – of well set Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara off consecutive deliveries – in the final to shift the game in India’s favour.
Coming in as ‘new’ faces from the last time are: Yuvraj, Rahane, Jadhav, Pandya, Bumrah and Shami. So three seamers, one spinner and two batsmen have been ‘replaced’ by three batsmen and three bowlers. India’s combination of all-rounders remains the same – three then (Jadeja, Ashwin and Pathan) and three now (Jadeja, Ashwin and Pandya). The wicketkeeper-batsman role once again will be shared between Dhoni and Karthik but the latter is expected to warm the bench.
In the larger scheme of things, the current squad is expected to do more than just one job. Ashwin and Jadeja have produced the runs in Tests but will now have the onus to do it in the ODIs too. However, the last two years have seen the duo bat sparsely. Jadeja has 39 runs in three innings and Ashwin has 16 runs in two innings (both against England earlier this year). Yuvraj is pivotal to reduce the flow of runs in the middle overs with his bowling and can chip in with wickets too. He’s picked up 111 wickets in his ODI career with a fifer to his name and an economy rate of 5.10.
One to watch out for will be Hardik Pandya who has been sublime for Mumbai Indians in the recently concluded IPL 2017. He chipped in with 250 runs in 17 matches at a strike rate of 156.25 and picked up six wickets.