Dhawan favourite for opener's slot
The 15-member Indian cricket squad for next month’s ICC Champions Trophy will be picked here on Saturday and the selectors would have to deliberate hard on finding a new opening combination along with a balanced spin attack for the event to be held in England.
With Sachin Tendulkar’s retirment from the ODIs and Virender Sehwag’s omission due to poor form, Shikhar Dhawan is almost certain to pair with Gautam Gambhir in the opening slot following his breathtaking onslaught against the Australians in his debut Test.
When the selection panel, headed by Sandeep Patil, named the list of probables on April 6, two prominent names — Sehwag and senior off-spinner Harbhajan Singh — were missing from it. Since then, the two senior cricketers’ form in the ongoing Indian Premier League would have been monitored by the selectors. But they have hardly done anything extraordinary to merit a comeback even though the ICC rules allow for selection outside the probables’ list for the June 6 to 23 tournament.
The probables list features three specialist openers — Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir and — and it would be very surprising if Sehwag makes it as one of the openers. Dhawan starts as the clear favourite since he is good form in the IPL also. Similarly, for the spinners’ slot, there are five claimants in R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Jalaj Saxena and Parveez Rasool.
There are seven middle-order batsmen, four wicketkeepers — including Mahendra Singh Dhoni, — and 10 medium pace bowlers in the probables mix. India and South Africa are scheduled to kick off the contest on June 6 at the Sophia Gardens at Cardiff, Wales in a Group B match.
India are to take on the West Indies at the Kennington Oval in London on June 11 and then conclude the four-team group engagement on June 15 against arch-rivals Pakistan at Edgbaston.
The top two teams from each group would progress to the semi-finals scheduled on June 19 and 20 at the Kennington Oval and Sophia Gardens respectively with the winners advancing to the June 23 final to be played at Edgbaston.
The list of 30 probables: Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, A Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Jalaj Saxena, Parvez Rasool, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Irfan Pathan, Vinay Kumar, Paveen Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Sidharth Kaul.