Their squad announced, can India defend the Champions Trophy?

The Indian squad for the upcoming Champions Trophy 2017 was finally announced after threats from BCCI to pull out.

India will begin their title defence on June 4 with a game against their arch-rivals Pakistan.

The Indian squad has as much as 9 players from the victorious 2013 campaign.

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Where are the Bowlers?

Abid Nabi - Considered one of the fastest in India, does not get even mentioned in team selections

Abid Nabi - Considered one of the fastest in India, does not get even mentioned in team selections

India is almost out of the champions Trophy and barring a miracle, they will pack their bags and head home tomorrow. As I wrote earlier India’s bowling problem hurt their chances in the Champions Trophy. The Indian bowlers were pathetic against Pakistan in their first game allowed them to escape from a precarious 65/3 to 302 which in the end proved too much for the depleted Indian batting lineup. This has been the problem with the Indian team for the past 1 year or so.

The batting strength was able to shield this weakness but with the absence of couple of key players it was exposed even further against the Pakistanis in the Champions Trophy. So the perennial question is where are the bowlers? So much of domestic cricket being played, so much of talent but why do we keep hearing the same names again and again? Are the selectors good at actually tapping good talent? India has loads of talent in the Domestic arena but has been reluctant to try out new players in the National squad. Three years back when Guru Greg was at the helm there was a bowler named Abid Nabi who was touted as the next big thing in Indian cricket. He was even summoned to bowl at the Indian batters in the nets but where is he now? He signed up for the ICL and could not be considered but still his name was never mentioned during selection anytime. He is now in the list of players who has accepted the BCCI “Amnesty” program. Another one of BCCI’s ridiculous act but at least he can be in contention now.

And then there is Sudeep Tyagi who has been performing very well in the domestic cricket, had a good IPL and also performed brilliantly in the recently concluded Emerging Players trophy in Australia but he is nowhere close to selection. The Indian selectors are known to waste talent in domestic cricket for ages now and it has hurt Indian cricket. There are loads of names which come to mind. Where is Piyush chawla, Pujara? Both have been performing consistently in the domestic arena. Chawla though has done quite well when he has been given chances at the National level but still continues to be ignored by the selectors. The Indian selectors are short sighted which is the major problem. They always look to fix the current issues but fail to look at the larger picture.

When we speak of All rounders, it always has to be the Pathan brothers but what about Ravichandran Ashwin who has been brilliant for Tamil Nadu? Ashwin has been brilliant for TN and could be an asset in the Indian team but has never been in consideration. The Indian team needs to find some good bowlers to complement Zaheer and unless they do that we cannot claim ourselves as the contenders for the Number 1 spot. Ishant Sharma needs a break to sort himself out and if possible needs to take a break from the IPL to concentrate on his bowling. India has the talent to develop into one of the best teams in the world even after the retirement of the greats but the selectors need to be smart about this.

Grooming and nurturing young talent is really important and unless that happens, Indian cricket will continue to suffer. Right talent needs to be encouraged irrespective of where they come from. Players like Ashwin, Nabi, Pujara, Tyagi, Chawla, Mishra, Kohli, Badri, Vijay etc have to be in the Indian plans for the future and need to be given chances regularly to prove their worth. India play a 7 match ODI series against the Australians and it will be the right time to rest some bowlers and give chances to youngsters. They cannot perform worse than the current pack. Keep Ashish Nehra and change the rest of the bowling, RP Singh, Ishant and Harbajan need a break and have to be challenged. They have been performing badly for about a year now without being shown the door in ODI cricket and need to be given a break.

If India needs to be considered as the number 1 team in the world they have to work towards it. I hope that Dhoni and the selectors are listening.

Bowling woes diminishes India’s chances in Champions trophy

Rahul Dravid castled by Jeetan patel in India's warm up game against NZ

Rahul Dravid castled by Jeetan patel in India's warm up game against NZ (Courtesy Cricinfo)

Captain MS. Dhoni will have a lots to think about between now and Saturday when India take on a buoyant Pakistan team in the first match of the ICC Champions trophy. India played NZ in their only warm up match before the tournament started and were badly beaten by 101 runs. The problem for India was again the bowling. India for sure has one of the worst bowling line up among the top 7 teams (excluding WI) and it’s going to certainly diminish their chances of winning the Champions Trophy.

Ishant, RP and Praveen yesterday were pretty ordinary and went for more than 7 an over. Only Mishra, Yusuf and Raina were economical which again puts the Indian captain under lots of pressure. Spinners being the best bowlers might force the captain to go with Mishra and Bajji in the lineup compromising a fast bowler. Praveen might be shown the door after yesterday’s performance but the rest aren’t that great either.

Ishant Sharma has been really poor over the past year and has consistently gone over 6 runs per over. He has never been able to restrict the runs or take wickets. Nehra after his comeback had a good WI series and bowled well in patches but again lacks consistency to lead the pace attack. RP Singh has just made a comeback after injury and is yet to regain his pace and swing. So India has to totally rely on Bajji and the part-timers to restrict the run flow if they decide against 2 spinners.

The batting also seems a little bit rusty but expecting them to chase 300 every time is expecting too much. The Indian batting is strong but they can collapse once in a while like they did yesterday. Yeah agreed that Sachin wasn’t playing but to rely on just one player is taking the team back by 10 years. The news from the team management is that Ghambir isn’t 100% fit, which is a shock as he has been picked in the squad. I don’t know why you would pick a player for an important trophy if he not 100% fit.

I think that they have to think about Yusuf Pathan’s position in the team too. He hasn’t done anything significant with the bat in the 50 over game and has bowled okay in the chances he has been provided. I guess Irfan will be a better all rounder for India in limited overs format. Looking at the current scenario the Indian team is long way away from being the number 1 team in the world. Probably in the current scenario we are good enough to be number 3 team but unless we improve our bowling we can’t claim to be the world’s best.

As far as the champion’s trophy goes, India will be hard pressed to beat Pakistan and Australia who have a good batting lineup and much better bowling lineup than India. I will not be surprised if we don’t make it to the semis. It all depends on how our batsmen play against the Aussie and the Pakistani bowlers.