Can the Class of 2013 do an encore in #CT17?

Team India will be keen to repeat their success story from the 2013 ICC CHAMPIONS TROPHY. Starting the tournament as dark horses then, the Men-in-Blue won all their games in the lead-up to the final (beat South Africa, West Indies, Pakistan and Sri Lanka in semis). In the final, rain forced the game to be reduced to 20-overs a side. However luck was on MS Dhoni’s side as they edged out hosts England by 5 runs.

While that triumph ensured that Dhoni’s cabinet of ICC trophies was complete (2007 ICC WT20, 2011 ICC CWC, 2013 ICC CT) , it is a different story this time around. Having given up captaincy at the beginning of the year, Dhoni has passed on the baton to Virat Kohli in all formats of the game. In his only series as full-time ODI skipper of the Men-in-Blue, Kohli's inspired leadership ensured a 2-1 series victory over England in a high-scoring series in January.

Captain Fearless Kohli has one major advantage going into this big tournament. 9 players who were part of the triumphant 2013 ICC Champions Trophy side, will be present in England this time around as well. With an average of 90.75, Dhawan had topped the run-getters list (363 runs in 5 matches) in 2013, scoring back-to-back tons against South Africa and West Indies.

Along with Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and the current Indian captain were consistent performers in 2013 (177 and 176 respectively). These three remain the fulcrum of India’s top-order. The experienced pair of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni will hope to carry on the momentum from the ODI series against England earlier this year, as the veteran duo turned back the clock with some vintage performances.

Speaking about Yuvi-Mahi before the team’s departure for the British Isles, Kohli mentioned, “If you give them the freedom to play their game in the middle order, I’m sure that they know the most in the team on how to build a match or push the team towards a victory or even from a difficult situation.”

Kedar Jadhav, Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik are the other batting options available which will surely give the team-management some pleasant headaches.

On the bowling front, Indian spinners, Ravindra Jadeja (12 wickets) and Ravichandran Ashwin (8 wickets), were on top of their game in ICC CT 2013 sharing 20 wickets between them. The spin-duo will be delighted to have the support of an in-form pace battery this time around.

The Indian team has 3 genuine pacers in Mohammad Shami, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav, a seasoned death-overs specialist in Bhuvnneshwar Kumar and a seaming all-rounder in Hardik Pandya.Having made a return to the ODI squad for the first time after the 2015 ICC CRICKET WORLD CUP, Shami impressed in the warm-up games.

Bhuvi, Umesh and Bumrah will be keen to continue their exploits from VIVO IPL 2017, having picked  26, 17 and 20 respectively.

India begin their journey on Sunday (4 June 2017) against Pakistan at Edgbaston. The high-voltage game never fails to entertain the crowd and it will not be different this time as well. With a 12-2 record in ICC tournament against the arch-rivals, the Indian team will be a confident lot before this big encounter.

Sri Lanka come next on 8th June at The Oval. With their mixture of experience & young talent, they can be a tough opposition as well. The last group game will be played on 11th June against the no.1 ODI team, South Africa, who have the no.1 ODI batsman - AB de Villiers and the no.1 ODI bowler - Kagiso Rabada. South Africa arrived in the British Isles in the second week of May and have acclimatized well to the conditions, despite their 1-2 ODI series loss to England.

Indian team’s current form along with the experience of their last CT will be vital in the overall tournament. Virat Kohli’s aggressive captaincy will be a key factor as well. ‘We want to go with a positive mind set, it’s important for a long tournament like this & have to think about the games in that manner,’ said the Indian skipper before leaving for the tournament

It surely will be a tough challenge for team India but great teams have passed these tests and this unit is hungry to compete at the top level.

India squad: Virat Kohli (C), Ravichandran Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Kedar Jadhav, Dinesh Karthik, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Mohammed Shami, Hardik Pandya, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Yuvraj Singh.

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