x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Choice of bowlers to swing it for India in Champions Trophy will be interesting

The likely swinging conditions in England mean a lot of thought must go in to the attack, writes Dileep Premachandran.

India's Ishant Sharma is expected to open the bowling in the Champions Trophy.
India's Ishant Sharma is expected to open the bowling in the Champions Trophy.

India pick their squad for the Champions Trophy on Saturday. Once a tournament where they thrived - semi-finalists in 1998, runners-up in 2000 and joint winners in 2002 - it has lately become a platform for embarrassment and bad luck.

With two years to go for the defence of the World Cup in Australia, the last edition of the competition offers them the best opportunity to assess where they stand in the transition game.

Conditions in England in June present India with a peculiar conundrum. A bowling line-up that poses little threat on placid pitches could well excel if the ball swings.

At the same time, a batting line-up missing the experience and solidity of Tendulkar and other retired legends could be terribly exposed in such conditions, as they were when Junaid Khan and Mohammad Irfan wreaked havoc in the winter series in India.

It is safe to assume that England (and Wales) in June will be seam-and-swing friendly. That should mean five pace bowlers in the squad of 15 to go with R Ashwin's offspin and Ravindra Jadeja's all-round skills.

On current form, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma seem certain to share the new ball.

Umesh Yadav should go as an out-and-out pace option, while Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar and Sreesanth will tussle for two swing-bowling slots.

Irfan Pathan comes into the mix as an all-round option, and it will be interesting to see if a batting place is found for the in-form Dinesh Karthik, who can double up as reserve wicketkeeper.

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