Indian Cricket over the recent past is on a recent high and has showcased a mesmerizing display of skill, grit, aggression and passion. Be it the switch in the captaincy, the variations in the approach or the adaptability to the conditions, Indian cricket has embraced each change and moulded it in its favour. After a long successful 2016-17 Home season and after an exciting couple of months of IPL T20, India is set to return to Cricket’s most evolved format: the One Day Internationals. Ranked 3rd in the ICC Rankings, India will have their Champions Trophy 2013 title at stake as they take on 7 other top ranked countries in this fortnight long tournament. Played across three venues in England and Wales, the unpredictable weather adds an extra challenge.
Be it the pre-tournament favourites England, the World champions Australia, the epitome of consistency South Africa or the under-dogs Bangladesh, given the recent form they are in, the world awaits a belter of a contest. This tournament is also known as an exception to all the exceptions. It’s the only ICC Title, the “Chokers” could ever achieve (1998) and the only ICC Tournament in which Pakistan could get better of India, not once but twice (2004 & 2006). Inducted to fame in 1998 as the ICC Knockout Trophy, the 7 previous editions have witnessed different shades of cricket. From all nail-biting finishes to few easy fruitful wins, from disastrous failures to stupendous performances and from the worst of cricketing nightmares to the best of it’s memories, it’s been a tournament which has evolved a lot in all aspects. India in Champions Trophy has stood out ever since its inception, co-winning the tournament in 2002 (After the final against Sri Lanka was washed out) and reigning supreme in 2013. Coming in with most number of wins and the most successful team ever in Champions Trophy history, India would aim glory for the record third time.
An aftermath of long home season with injuries, the infamous BCCI spat with the ICC and after the criticism faced for exemption of a few deserving senior players, India is finally set to stage its best possible team to shoulder the utmost responsibility. From the young and enthusiastic Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah to the experienced Yuvraj Singh, Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni, the skipper Virat Kohli and his newly appointed deputy Rohit Sharma have all their bases covered. However, this team still has a tough nut to crack.
Facing a problem of plenty, India will find it difficult to pick the best eleven and will look to formulate a few concrete strategies at the earliest. Probably for the first time in cricket history, Indian seam bowlers possess a huge threat. Pace, swing, consistency, accuracy, strength!! The quadrant of Bumrah-Bhuvi-Shami-Umesh has everything that makes them absolutely lethal. The spin twins in Ashwin and Jadeja will also hold key on flat pitches with overhead conditions. They say the English weather is one of the most unpredictable theories in the world, but rest assured India surely holds trumps against all baffling conditions.
Virat Kohli quoted, “It is important to play freely, express ourselves and enjoy from the word go which we did the last time around. The hunger to win and the ruthlessness that we have been carrying throughout the test season is something we will be taking along in pursuit to produce the desired result”
Opening the campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan on June 4th, the match also holds a strong political importance. India is also joined by Sri Lanka and South Africa who are also eager to leave their trail in this tournament. The other group comprising of Australia, New-Zealand, England and Bangladesh is flared enough to be termed as the ‘Group of Death’. Though a knockout qualification seems most likely, India would look to reciprocate their previous performance and continue their unbeaten run with higher implications. High scoring thrillers and a few mind-boggling run-chases might well dictate a few newspaper headlines soon. Rightly put into words, ‘This Champions Trophy isn’t only about those bitter rivalries, isn’t only about winning and losing, isn’t only about playing high-spirited cricket, but it’s also about reaching out loud to people and making a sport triumph above all wreckage.’