India’s seam-attack for the ICC Champions Trophy to be played from June 6 to 23 will be virtually new for the 50-over tournament in England.
The selectors had packed the 30-member probables list with 10 fast/seam bowlers and their collective wisdom would be summoned to pick the skillful players for what is being regarded as the last limited-over tournament for the ICC elite teams.
Chairman of the selection committee Sandeep Patil and his colleagues — Roger Binny, Saba Karim, Vikram Rathour and Rajinder Singh Hans — took bold measures for the home series against Pakistan (3 matches) and England (5 matches) by blooding the in-form Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami. Once convinced that he was back in full tilt, they also completed Ishant Sharma’s return to the two major forms of the game.
The Delhi fast bowler played two Tests against England and all four against Australia and also eight One-Day Internationals against Pakistan (3) and England (5).
After bowling excellent spells in the first Test against England at Motera, Umesh Yadav went out of the reckoning for the rest of the home series against England and thereafter against Pakistan and Australia. Yadav has looked trim and shaped well in the 10 IPL matches he has played so far.
Bhuvneshwar has not had a memorable IPL (eight wickets at 31.00), but the seamer has by all accounts earned his spurs in the home internationals and is a certainty for what will be his first major international event.
After missing action in the home season, Praveen Kumar who has played three Tests matches and as many ODIs in England, has returned as a contender to fill in a berth in the seam department. Similarly R. Vinay Kumar has taken 18 wickets at 18.89 in the IPL-VI competition and has positioned himself for a slot in the tournament.
The other seamers in the probables list are Ashoke Dinda, Irfan Pathan, Ishwar Pandey and Sidharth Kaul.
Dinda was in the squad for the home ODIs against Pakistan and Shami played five matches against Pakistan and England.
Irfan Pathan played his last series in England in 2004 and in the IPL-VI his record is 77 runs from 10 matches and seven wickets at 38.00.
Off-spinner R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja should take two slots in the spin department. It would be interesting to see if the selectors find a place for leg-spinner Amit Mishra (he was in the squad against Pakistan and England).
The committee did not tinker too much with the team for the home internationals, but Dhoni made an important change at the top-order bringing in Rohit Sharma at the expense of Ajinkya Rahane.
Delhi left- hander Shikhar Dhawan is now a very strong candidate and has won more points than M. Vijay in the league.
What has to be seen is whether the committee persists with Gautam Gambhir (34 in three matches against Pakistan and 127 in five matches against England) and Yuvraj Singh (34 in three matches against Pakistan and 126 in five matches against England) or spring a few surprises.