Champions Trophy: Form of players not an issue for India

With India on its tour of England and Wales to defend its ICC Champions Trophy title under a new captain in Virat Kohli, here is a look at the current form of its squad members.

The 15-memeber Indian team for the Champions Trophy.   -  PTI

1. Virat Kohli: By his own standards, the run-making frenzy has slowed down for a brief while. The Test series against Australia yielded few runs, and this was followed by a dull Indian Premier League in which his team, Royal Challengers Bangalore, plummeted to the bottom of the points table. Having not produced an encore of 2016 may have provided an impression of an out-and-out run-drought, but that wasn’t the case: Kohli scored 308 runs, with four half-centuries. His 50-over form has been exceptional. He was the highest run-getter in the series against New Zealand, and was among the leading batsmen in the three-match series against England.

2. Rohit Sharma: The opener presided over a successful IPL season for his team, Mumbai Indians. He ensured a productive season, with 333 runs in the tournament, including three half-centuries. Rohit was off-colour in the ODIs against New Zealand late last year, but had been prolific in the Tests that preceded the limited-overs leg of the tour. He scored four half-centuries and a century in the Tests. A thigh injury kept him out of the Tests and ODIs against England, and most domestic matches that followed the home series.

3. Shikhar Dhawan: The flamboyant opener has been in a ‘run-machine’ mode in the lead-up to the Champions Trophy. He has enjoyed a stellar Indian Premier League, with 479 runs, the third highest among all participating batsmen. Dhawan, who played a key role in the 2013 title victory for India, was also the second highest run-getter in the Deodhar Trophy, with 223 runs in three matches.

4. Yuvraj Singh: The left-handed batsman scored a match-winning 150 against England in the ODI series during the 2016-17 season. He had been productive in the Ranji season for Punjab, scoring 672 runs in eight innings at an average of 84. However, he could not transfer this form on to the IPL; he scored two fifties for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the tournament, making 252 runs in 11 innings.

5. Kedar Jadhav: The diminutive batsman came to limelight in the ODI series against England in January, with scores of 120, 22, and 90 in the three matches. He embellished his 50-over form with a productive Vijay Hazare Trophy — he scored 375 runs at an average of 53.57 in seven matches, with a century and two fifties. However, he faltered in the IPL, scoring 267 runs.

6. Ajinkya Rahane: The IPL was a fruitful tournament for Rahane, who shone with the bat and became part of a near-successful campaign with Rising Pune Supergiant. He scored 382 runs at an average of 25.46, with two half-centuries. In the ODI series against New Zealand, he had scored a half-century in five matches. In the Tests, he did well against the Kiwis — a knock of 188 being the highlight — and against Bangladesh in the one-off Test in February. A relatively dull season notwithstanding, Rahane will be an asset for India considering his run-making consistency and the ability to negotiate potent bowling attacks in the last few years.

7. Hardik Pandya: The all-rounder scored 250 runs in the IPL, at an average of 35.71 without any half-century or a century. What is remarkable, though, is that he got nearly half his runs — 120 — via sixes. He also took six wickets in the tournament. Hardik has chipped in with useful performances with bat and ball — as is expected of an all-rounder — in the limited-overs matches against England and New Zealand in the home season. He had an off-colour Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 22 runs in three matches, and five wickets.

8. Ravindra Jadeja: The Saurashtra all-rounder may have had an average IPL by his standards, but his all-round efforts helped India emerge winner at the end of a lengthy home season. The left-arm spinner was India’s second highest wicket-taker, accounting for 71 scalps at an economy rate of 2.25. Jadeja showed his mettle with the bat, too, scoring 556 runs at an average of 42.76, with six half-centuries. His flamboyant batting and disciplined bowling will be something Kohli will lean upon during India’s title defence.

9. Dinesh Karthik: The seasoned wicketkeeper-batsman has been knocking on the selectors’ doors with a stellar Indian domestic season. He scored a bucketful of runs in most tournaments he participated in — Ranji Trophy (704 runs, with five half-centuries and a century), Vijay Hazare Trophy (607 runs in nine innings) and Deodhar Trophy (247 runs in three innings). He ended up as the leader of the pack of run-getters in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy — both 50-over tournaments. In the IPL, he scored 361 runs at an average of 36.10, with two half-centuries.

10. M. S. Dhoni: The former India captain has made headlines with his responsible performances with the bat for Jharkhand in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. For India, too, he has been among the runs. In Cuttack, he scored 134 against England earlier this year. He enjoyed a productive ODI series against New Zealand late last year as well. In the IPL, however, he wasn’t as prolific, with 290 runs in 15 innings.

11. Ravichandran Ashwin: Ashwin, who missed this year’s IPL due to sports hernia, was India’s bowling lynchpin in the recently concluded home season, in which the team played 13 Tests. The tall off-spinner took 82 wickets at 2.80, with seven five-in-an-innings and three 10-wickets in a match hauls to show for his efforts. Ashwin’s control and ability to flight the ball should hold India in good stead ahead of the Champions Trophy in England.

12. Jasprit Bumrah: The right-arm fast bowler from Gujarat has quickly climbed up the team ladder with his unorthodox action and bowling skills. A tally of 20 wickets from 16 matches at 7.35 was one of the highlights of Mumbai Indians’ success in IPL 2017. Bumrah had a good outing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy as well; he took 13 wickets from five matches at 3.85 in the tournament. His slower balls and inch perfect yorkers have turned him into an ideal limited-overs bowler.

13. Umesh Yadav: In the 15 Tests till October 2015, Yadav had taken 48 wickets at an economy rate of 4.31 but since November 2015, that went down to 2.87. The 29-year-old seamer had 30 wickets at 3.09 from India’s last 13 Tests at home. In IPL 2017, his 17 wickets at 8.45 propelled the Kolkata Knight Riders into the eliminators. His presence will bolster India’s pace attack in overseas conditions.

14. Mohammad Shami: After missing most part of India’s long home season due to a knee injury, Mohammad Shami has made his way into the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy. Shami, who last played ODI cricket against Australia in the 2015 World Cup semifinal, played in eight IPL games this season and two Vijay Hazare Trophy matches to signal his return to fitness. Although five wickets at 9.34 in the IPL do not do justice to his talent, India would be relying on Shami’s swing and pace to rattle opposition batsmen.

15. Bhuvneshwar Kumar: The right-arm seamer went unnoticed in terms of his performances in the ODIs, T20Is, and Tests he played in the last home season. However, he provided a depiction of his expertise in limited-overs bowling with a harvest-full of wickets (26) in the IPL at a remarkable economy rate of 7.05. He finished as the purple cap winner.

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