Champions Trophy – How does India solve the puzzle?

India, of late, has been a winner when it comes to world cricket and, for a skeptic Indian, this is not an easy comment to make. Since 2007 they have won the ICC 50 Overs Men’s World Cup once, the Under 19 World Cup twice and the inaugural ICC T-20 Men’s World Cup as well. To add to this they have also been the leading test team for a couple of years. However, one tournament where it has come unstuck is the Champion’s Trophy. Their record in this tournament is not comparable with what the team has achieved in the other forms of the game of glorious uncertainties.

The 30 man list was announced on April 6, as per ICC guidelines, by the selection committee headed by Sandeep Patil. The selectors have left out 3 players who have played important part in the rise of India as a cricketing name to be reckoned with – Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and Virender Sehwag. A lot of people had many things to say with some welcoming the decision and others saying that the selectors took a big risk in leaving out these decorated names. The attention has now shifted to the 15 man squad for the championship – who will be entrusted to help India conquer this trophy that has always eluded it?

Speaking of team selection let’s start with India’s traditional area of strength – batting. Some of the batters named in the preliminary squad almost select themselves like Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma. One feels this group will be joined by any two of Ajinkya Rahane and the test openers Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay. Rahane and Dhawan may get the nod because of their good fielding skills. MS Dhoni will be the undisputed choice as the wicketkeeper and skipper. Since the tournament is being held in England one feels that the selectors will not look beyond R Ashwin and “Sir” Ravindra Jadeja as far as spin bowling support is concerned.

It is the fast bowling department that will hold the key to India’s success in the Old Blighty. One thinks that Ishant Sharma, Bhubaneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav will be automatic picks. Considering it is a 15 man squad there will be space to pick two more seamers and the selectors will have plenty to think over here. Irfan Pathan, now that he is fit and playing regularly in the IPL, is expected to get the nod of Dhoni, who has always wanted multi dimensional cricketers in the team. The other selection quandary would be to choose between the pace and lift of Ashok Dinda or the seam and control offered by Vinay Kumar. Kumar may get the nod because of his good form of late and for the control and variety he offers in the death overs.

So considering the conditions and taking into quality this is how the Indian team for the 2013 Champions Trophy should look:

MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, R Ashwin, “Sir” Ravindra Jadeja, Ishant Sharma, Bhubaneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan and Vinay Kumar. What do you say folks?