PART ONE: INDIA
DATE: 1st May, 2013
This edition of the ICC Champions Trophy is officially the last one, scheduled to be hosted from the 6th of June to the 23rd of June. The ICC Champions Trophy is to be substituted with the ICC Test Championship that has its first edition scheduled for 2017. (The host nation remaining England itself). The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy is going to be hosted by England and Wales, with Edgbaston, The KIA Oval and the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff being the hosting grounds. 36 days before the final edition of the tournament commences, we look at where the participating teams currently stand and conduct a SWOT analysis of the eight teams.
The 8 teams are divided in two groups of four comprising of Group A:
Similarly, Group B comprises of:
The first match of the Champions Trophy or the ‘Mini World Cup’ is to be played between the current number one ranked India and South Africa at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, while the finals are to be played at the Edgbaston in Birmingham. We start off our analysis from Group B and then gradually move on to the Group A teams.
Team 1: INDIA
The Indian Team has recently got a gigantic monkey off its back by winning a test series. The Indian Cricket Team has been going through a lean patch post their ICC 2011 World Cup Triumph. This patch seems to be done and dusted with, with their recent string of performances against Australia, who were all at sea against the spin twins of R.Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja. The 4-0 whitewash of the Australian team by their hands should boost the levels of confidence within the Indian dressing room and most importantly, should relieve the pair of M.S.Dhoni and Duncan Fletcher, whose places in the hierarchy was often put under the scanner.
Test matches are a different ball game altogether as compared to the limited overs game. The previous ODI series involving India was against England, which India, the hosts won by a margin of 3-2. Well, a higher margin was expected as England had rested four of their key players involving James Anderson and Graeme Swann, who had a sensational outing in the Test series. However, the one aspect that will be testing the mindset of the Indians would be that, just a week before the ODI series against England , India had lost an ODI series at home for the first time in 3.5 years and that too against arch rivals Pakistan. And what’s more? India faces off with Pakistan on the 15th of June for the 10th match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. India even plays the curtain raiser of the tournament along with South Africa.
India’s previous ODI assignment outside the subcontinent was in the CB Series in Australia, where they failed to even qualify for the finals. But that tournament was immortalised by the courtesy of a scorcher of an innings played by Virat Kohli in the do- or -die match against Sri Lanka in Hobart, scoring a brutal 133* off just 86 deliveries. That innings was the only point worth cherishing in the CB Series. Post the CB Series, the Indians have played the Asia Cup and there too they failed to qualify for the finals, with Pakistan winning it.
The 4-1 series win over Sri Lanka in their own den was a high indeed, but the ODI series that followed against Pakistan was an absolute lull. But there were positives in the Pakistan ODI series as well. The emergence of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar into the arena as a Swing Bowler took everyone by surprise. The comeback of Ishant Sharma too caught the eye and this should just increase the chances of Sharma booking a ticket for England.
But the one positive that rose from the England ODI series was the maturity of Suresh Raina as a composed batsman and his ability to play as per the game situation. Four half centuries in four innings including a vital 89*, speaks for itself. The metamorphosis of Ravindra Jadeja into a genuine All Rounder too should enhance India’s chances in the last edition of the Champions Trophy.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
VIRAT KOHLI: Being termed as ‘India’s next captain’ by the cricketing pundits, Virat has been in the form of his life. In spite of having a couple of mediocre series’ against England and Pakistan at home, Virat would be itching to prove his critics wrong. 2012 was a golden year for Virat Kohli who scored as many as 5 ODI tons and at an excellent strike rate as well. The last ODI played by India in England too would be etched in Virat’s memory as he scored a scintillating 107 off just 93 balls against the hosts. However, India ended up on being the losing side. Virat has been India’s wall of strength during the testing times, and only time will tell that how Virat performs in the ‘Champions Trophy’.
BHUVANESHWAR KUMAR: Swing bowling has always been complimented by the English conditions, which are a treat for any swing bowler. Looking at this prospect, BHUVANESHWAR KUMAR becomes a handy investment to make in. Bhuvi, as called by the mates of his Indian Team, first caught the eye by bowling a wonderful spell of 4-0-9-3 against Pakistan in a T20 game at Bangalore. His ODI debut too was perfect, castling Mohammed Hafeez for a first ball duck, and getting a wicket of his very first ball. Bhuvaneshwar’s ability to swing the ball both ways means that in England he would be the one bowler on which the Indians would rely to make early inroads.
RAVINDRA JADEJA: Off late, Jadeja has been made the butt of the sarcastic jokes which add a prefix of ‘SIR’ too his name. But he too has silenced all his critics with his all round abilities. As of now, MS Dhoni, the Indian skipper sees him just as a bowling all rounder and more importantly, a candidate who can fill the fifth bowler’s slot, which has been a headache for the Indian team Management for the past few years. And who can forget that comeback match of Ravindra Jadeja , back in 2011, in England itself, where he played a delightful innings of 78 and took India to a respectable total of 234-7 after being 58-5. He even went on to take a couple of wickets in that very game. But the main issue regarding Jadeja is about his inconsistent form. If he manages to be consistent, with both the bat and the ball, then Jadeja would be a tremendous asset for India.
STRENGTH: The strength of the Indian team lies in their batting. A formidable middle order comprising of Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni means that a high total for the Indian team is always on the cards. While chasing too, these names would play a crucial role in taking India home and finishing well.
WEAKNESS: The bowling of the Indian team remains their weakness. The death bowling has remained a critical aspect where the Indian bowlers have failed miserably. Ishant Sharma, Ashoke Dinda and Umesh Yadav, all have economy rates on the higher side, with the latter two having economy rates of above 6, meaning a threat sign. The Indian bowling coach, Joe Dawes would have to work in this area and ensure that the Indian bowlers do not leak a lot of runs in the critical death overs, which could change the course of the match.
LIKELY SQUAD: Now that Virender Sehwag has been dropped, India needs to find his replacement, and that candidate seems to be none other than SHIKHAR DHAWAN. Dhawan broke a few records in his debut innings against Australia at Mohali, where he scored a record-breaking 187 off just 174 balls. By far, that innings is considered as the best by an Indian on debut. Dhawan has played 5 ODI’s for India and averages a mere 13, with just a half century in his kitty. He would be determined to turn things around for India in the Champions Trophy.
ISHANT SHARMA’S return to prime form could mean that Shami Ahmed would have to wait for his chances and taking into account the experience, Ishant would be an asset for India in the Champions Trophy if he gets his rhythm.
AMIT MISHRA has made his case stronger by performing very well in the ongoing IPL, and a recent hat-trick taken by Mishra, seems to be going in his favour. Mishra has played 15 ODI’s for India and has taken 19 wickets at an impressive economy rate of just 4.52. It wouldn’t come as a surprise if Mishra gets selected for the Champions Trophy.
DINESH KARTHIK’S recent purple patch for the MUMBAI INDIANS means that he could well be on his way to England as both, a backup wicket keeper and a top order batsman.
The 15 men squad could be:
MS Dhoni (c,wk), V.Kohli (vc), G.Gambhir, S.Dhawan, A.Rahane/R.Sharma, Y.Singh, S.Raina, R.Jadeja, I.Pathan, R.Ashwin, B.Kumar, I.Sharma, A.Mishra, D.Karthik, U.Yadav.
CHANCES OF WINNING: HIGH
CONCLUSION: Looking at the squad and the recent form of players, the INDIAN team seems to have high chances of lifting the final Champions Trophy. But as they say, “CRICKET IS A FUNNY GAME”, the squad on paper may be looking strong, but only time will tell that how they perform in the Champions Trophy.