The Champions Trophy, the mini cricket World Cup, will begin from 1 June when hosts England clash with minnows Bangladesh at the Oval in London. This eight edition of the tournament, which began as the ICC Knockout Tournament in 1998, and this is the third time the contest is being held in England. The top eight teams in the ICC ODI Championship rankings as on 30 September 2015 have qualified for the tournament. The eight teams were divided into two groups of four. Bangladesh replaced the West Indies, who finished outside the top eight in ninth position, in the ICC ODI Team Rankings on the cut-off date. Bangladesh returned to the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time since 2006, and for the first time, the West Indies have lost their place in the Champions Trophy.
Meanwhile, after much drama over the BCCI threat to boycott the Champions Trophy to protest disputes over the newly proposed revenue sharing model with the ICC, defending champions India today named their squad for the tournament, making only two changes to the squad that beat England 2-1 in the recent ODI series. The three member selection panel headed by MSK Prasad brought back Rohit Sharma, whose return was expected once he proved his fitness after a thigh surgery and shoulder problem. Also returning to the squad was Mohammad Shami, who is back into the squad after a two year break. He last played an ODI in the 2015 World Cup semifinal against Australia, and knee problems again surfaced during the England series and sidelined him. But Shami’s pace and ability to swing the ball, conventionally or reverse, will give India an edge on the swinging pitches of England. Once he proved his fitness playing for Bengal in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and then for Delhi Daredevils, his selection was expected. With his addition India has four specialist pace bowlers in the squad.
Shikhar Dhawan’s selection too reflects consistency. Rishabh Pant, Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina are the batting standbys, but the left-handed opener who has come through injuries and a dip in form knows what it takes.
Also, selecting only MS Dhoni as a specialist keeper is a vote of confidence to India’s limited-overs match-winner and a message that 19-year-old Rishabh Pant, who made his T20I debut against England, will have to wait for his turn. India are in group B with South Africa, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. They play Pakistan in their first game on June 4 at Edgbaston.