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A Team India preview

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Number_one_Best_Greatest_cricketOn the back of a glittering IPL season 10, defending champions India come into the Champions Trophy as one of the favourties for the title, boasting a strong team which finally seems to have put together a threatening bowling attack.

If the likes of Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni can send shivers down the spine of any bowling attack, the quartet of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Shami could get batsmen sweating, especially in conditions like the one offered by England.

It’s the first time in a long-long time that India have a squad which has 4 genuine fast bowlers, capable of generating speeds of over 140 kmph consistently. Add swing, control and the ability to bowl change ups and it makes for a lethal attack which gives India an edge.

In addition, the defending Champions have two quality spinners in Jadeja and Ashwin to control the middle passage of the game, while Hardik Pandya could be a handful on a seaming track.

Though India boasts an envious batting line-up on paper, going by form, no matter how surprising or weird it may sound, the Men in Blue seem to have a superior bowling side, going also by the performances of the warm-up games.

Shikhar Dhawan seems to have picked up some form of late but his opening partner, either Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane, looks to be still some distance away from getting going. Their IPL performances were also ordinary and India would hope either of the two picks up some form. Virat Kohli too had a disastrous IPL by his standards. Despite doing well in the first warm-up game against New Zealand, he still remains untested against better and stronger bowling attacks in those conditions.

Yuvraj Singh has been a bit off, while Dhoni evidently has lost some of his sheen in the recent past. Going by this, Indian batting doesn’t look in the best of shape. Hence, the need for all-rounders to chip-in with the bat is greater than ever. Plus someone needs to play the finisher’s role.

Putting the entire scenario into perspective, it only makes sense for India to open with Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, given the past accolades of Sharma and the fact that there isn’t much difference in his and Rahane’s form.

Virat Kohli is set to come in at 3 to take control of the innings and get other batsmen playing around him. Yuvraj Singh at 4 seems to be the obvious choice. There is no dearth of talent and skill and if put to application, he could be India’s trump card.

In case Yuvraj Singh misses the first game due to injury, Dinesh Karthik would be the obvious choice at that position.

MS Dhoni should bat next and look to get in and consolidate before the death overs. Given the way his game has developed over the years, it would be better for him to take a role higher in the batting order rather than deeper down.

The need to find a finisher who has all the shots in the book and plays spin and pace well brings in the little dynamo Kedar Jadhav. Not many would have forgotten his partnership with Kohli that won India a game from the dumps.

Another permutation might put Karthik at 4 with Dhoni coming in at 5 and Yuvraj at 6 but, in all fairness, that doesn’t do justice to the talent and utility of Yuvraj and the fact that Kedar can play the No. 6 role better than anyone else on the squad at the moment. All this points in the direction of the original line-up.

Unless the track is seaming, Ravindra Jadeja at 7, followed by Ravichandran Ashwin at 8 add enough depth to the batting while keeping the bowling prowess intact. In case of a seaming track, Ashwin could make way for Hardik Pandya. Also, given that India’s bowling has been doing really well, it only makes more sense to not lose strength there or leave any hole.

The trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah look set and fit to fill in the remaining slots in the eleven.

While it is important for a team to click, cricket is a game where we have seen individual performances winning games on their day. Here’s a look at 3 of India’s key impact players:

1) Virat Kohli

Kohli has been the driving force behind India’s stellar show in the shorter format of the game and has become a pillar of strength in the Indian batting.

Given the form of the Indian batsmen, Kohli has an added responsibility to try and play as many overs as possible to get India through.

2) Yuvraj Singh

An impact player in the truest sense of the word, Yuvraj Singh has delivered on big stages and yet again shoulders a responsibility to carry the middle order, especially should the top order fail.

In addition, in conditions where India decides to go with Hardik and omit a spinner, Yuvi would be handy with the ball and could fill-in a few overs and make the most of his golden arm.

3) Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The most experienced and the most consistent bowler among the lot, Bhuvi would not only need to restrict runs, but pick up wickets for the team.

There have been occasions where Bumrah or Yadav have gone for plenty; Bhuvi thus becomes even more important and would need to be at his best if India are to seriously challenge for the title.

 

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