A nagging leg injury to Zaheer Khan and a dearth of quality left-arm seamers have secured a berth for Irfan Pathan in the 15-member Indian squad for the ICC Champions Trophy to be played in England and Wales from June 6 to 23.
Since January 1, 2000, India’s right-arm bowlers have taken 73 wickets in ODIs in England as against a combined tally of an impressive 58 wickets by the likes of Zaheer Khan (18), R.P. Singh (11), Ashish Nehra (9), Irfan Pathan (8), Yuvraj Singh (8) and Ravindra Jadeja (4).
The Baroda left-arm seamer has not been in good form in the ongoing Pepsi-IPL-VI, but the BCCI’s senior national selection committee picked him and four right-arm seamers — Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and R. Vinay Kumar — for the limited-overs tournament.
They also selected the 30-year-old Amit Mishra as the third specialist spinner in the squad. The Haryana captain was in the Indian team for the home series against Pakistan and England and has been responsible for Sunrisers Hyderabad’s excellent showing in the IPL-VI tournament.
While three spinners — the other two being R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja — may be considered a luxury by the discerning, the selectors feel that Mishra’s accurate wrist-spin may be quite handy against South Africa (Cardiff, June 6), West Indies (Oval, June 11) and Pakistan (Edgbaston, June 15).
On Saturday, the Sandeep Patil-led selection committee continued its policy of picking players on merit and current form and not on past reputation. The panel did not choose opener Gautam Gambhir and middle-order batsman Yuvraj Singh, both of whom had a poor run in the home internationals against Pakistan and England.
Once Ajinkya Rahane made way for Rohit Sharma as an opener for the ODIs against England at Mohali and Dharamshala, his position became extremely shaky.
Rahane does not find a place even in the additional list of six players, who together with the 15 announced for the Champions Trophy, form the probables for the tri-series to be played in the West Indies soon after the tournament in England. Delhi left-hander Shikhar Dhawan, who is back in action for Sunrisers Hyderabad, Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay and wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik also find a place in the squad.
The additional probables are Manoj Tiwary, Praveen Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Ambati Rayudu, Rahul Sharma and Gautam Gambhir. The Indian team will leave for England on May 29 and play two warm-up games against Sri Lanka and Australia on June 1 and 4.
The squad: M.S. Dhoni (capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, R. Ashwin, Irfan Pathan, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ishant Sharma, Amit Mishra, R. Vinay Kumar.