Batting boosts India’s chances of title defence

India came into the Champions Trophy 2017 with a team that looked great on paper but was extremely low on match practice.

Rohit Sharma hadn’t played in an ODI game for India for about eight months. Yuvraj Singh was not in India’s one day scheme of things until England ODI series earlier this year where he played three games.

Shikhar Dhawan played in the England series earlier this year but was dropped for the third game after failing in the first two.

Dinesh Karthik who is India’s other middle order option hasn’t played an ODI game for India since 2014.

Kedar Jadhav who is a newbie in the middle order doesn’t have too much experience playing overseas. The only match practice any of these players had before the Champions Trophy was in the IPL.

Completely different format and conditions to what they would face in England.

The Indian team were banking on the return to form of Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh in particular. Yuvraj Singh gives India the much needed impetus in the later stages of the innings and Rohit Sharma lends solidity to the top order.

The last time India won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013, the opening partnership of Dhawan and Rohit did a stellar job.

The opening combination was little short on confidence and it showed in the way the batted in the first few overs. Both Rohit and Dhawan looked nervous at the start of the innings.

Rohit was beaten couple of times in the first over and Dhawan batted at a strike rate of 50 until about the fifth or sixth over. Both the batsmen understandably took their time in setting up a platform which helped Yuvraj, Kohli and Pandya to tee off in the final few overs.

Even though India would have been happy with the opening combination returning to form, the biggest relief for India would have been the return to form and fitness of Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj – as Kohli pointed out after the match – is a game changer.

There were lots of questions over his fitness and form ahead of the game and the genial south paw answered his critics in the best way possible. Yuvraj played one of the most important innings for himself and for the team’s confidence in the tournament.

Yuvraj Singh plays in the crucial position for India in ODI and his returning to form gives huge boost to India’s chances.

Even though Indian bowling is very good this time around, the batting always gives them the confidence in the major tournaments. India began their defence of the title with lots of question marks around the team selection and the batting form of some of their players but after the first game, India has ticked lots of the boxes.

A firing batting unit is crucial for India’s campaign and the first game has shown that all is well in that regard for team India.

My Original Article @The Roar

Mysterious ways of the Indian selectors

When India decided to send a second string team to Zimbabwe, everyone in unison was in approval of the same as the Indian team has a packed schedule ahead of the World cup. But what transpired as the final squad left everyone little bit bemused. There were three squads announced, one for the ODI tri series, and the other for the T20 and finally the squad for India A tour to England.

One thing which was noticeable with all the three squads was that most of the players selected weren’t even in fray to make it to the national squad. People like Ishant, Irfan, Munaf, Sreesanth, Yuvraj and few others were ignored in the squads selected. This is the fact which makes us question the planning by the BCCI and the selectors. Now the team for Sri Lanka has been selected and Ishant and Sreesanth have been included in the same. Both of them have been cooling their heels for some time now and are coming in with zero match practice.

The A tours should be used to give much needed practice to the fringe players but that is not the case with the squad currently playing in England. This would have been a perfect platform for someone like Irfan Pathan to get back into form. The BCCI have also denied the contracted players from playing the county cricket, which means that during the domestic offseason, the players have basically no match practice. So on what basis are the players getting picked in the national squad? What have Yuvraj, Ishant or Sreesanth done to make a comeback in the squad, since they were dropped?

Cheteshwar Pujara’s non inclusion is also shocking. The youngster has been piling on the runs like a machine over the past couple of years and he is nowhere in the vicinity of a National selection. We have listened to countless experts speaking about him as the future of Indian batting but for some reason the selectors don’t think so. The guy is 22 years old, scoring hundreds at will wherever he plays and for me should have been in the squad to Sri Lanka. Saha’s selection over Dinesh Karthik is another baffling one as the keeper from Tamil Nadu would have been ideal as a backup keeper and a opener in case of an injury to either of the first choice openers.

With the world cup less than a year away, the selectors have to really wake up to the fact that we don’t have a settled set of 15-20 players to pick from for the major event. The selections over the past year or so have been pretty inconsistent and I hope that it changes over the coming months as India is playing a lot of cricket before the 2011 world cup.