The IPL madness is over and the focus shifts to the 2019 World Cup.
India came into the Champions Trophy 2017 with a team that looked great on paper but was extremely low on match practice.
Rohit Sharma hadn’t played in an ODI game for India for about eight months. Yuvraj Singh was not in India’s one day scheme of things until England ODI series earlier this year where he played three games.
Shikhar Dhawan played in the England series earlier this year but was dropped for the third game after failing in the first two.
Dinesh Karthik who is India’s other middle order option hasn’t played an ODI game for India since 2014.
Kedar Jadhav who is a newbie in the middle order doesn’t have too much experience playing overseas. The only match practice any of these players had before the Champions Trophy was in the IPL.
Completely different format and conditions to what they would face in England.
The Indian team were banking on the return to form of Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh in particular. Yuvraj Singh gives India the much needed impetus in the later stages of the innings and Rohit Sharma lends solidity to the top order.
The last time India won the Champions Trophy in England in 2013, the opening partnership of Dhawan and Rohit did a stellar job.
The opening combination was little short on confidence and it showed in the way the batted in the first few overs. Both Rohit and Dhawan looked nervous at the start of the innings.
Rohit was beaten couple of times in the first over and Dhawan batted at a strike rate of 50 until about the fifth or sixth over. Both the batsmen understandably took their time in setting up a platform which helped Yuvraj, Kohli and Pandya to tee off in the final few overs.
Even though India would have been happy with the opening combination returning to form, the biggest relief for India would have been the return to form and fitness of Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj – as Kohli pointed out after the match – is a game changer.
There were lots of questions over his fitness and form ahead of the game and the genial south paw answered his critics in the best way possible. Yuvraj played one of the most important innings for himself and for the team’s confidence in the tournament.
Yuvraj Singh plays in the crucial position for India in ODI and his returning to form gives huge boost to India’s chances.
Even though Indian bowling is very good this time around, the batting always gives them the confidence in the major tournaments. India began their defence of the title with lots of question marks around the team selection and the batting form of some of their players but after the first game, India has ticked lots of the boxes.
A firing batting unit is crucial for India’s campaign and the first game has shown that all is well in that regard for team India.