Champions Trophy Preview – India

Captain – Virat Kohli

Dangerman – Virat Kohli

I know it’s obvious, but it’s Virat Kohli.  However much you can try to find someone else in their squad to fulfil the title of India’s dangerman, all roads lead to Virat time and again.

What is interesting this time around is the context within which he will be appearing in his beloved pale blue.  His record in England in appalling; on the 2014 tour he averaged 13 in the test series, followed by scores of 0, 40, 1* and 13 in the ODI series that followed, despite India winning the series 3-1.

He was back to his sublime best over the winter and racked up huge scores in all formats, and all this after being handed the armband following MS Dhoni’s resignation.  His captaincy created all sorts of headlines over the winter, mainly for the wrong reasons, but we do know one thing – he’s nothing if not entertaining.

James Anderson managed to stoke Virat’s fiery ego when he suggested that Indian tracks don’t expose his technical deficiencies like those found in the UK.  “There is not that pace in the wicket to get the nicks like we did against him in England – with a bit more movement”.  Whether his observations are correct or not will surely be one of the major talking points throughout the competition.

Why they’re a Threat

It’s always so hard to find any weakness in an Indian limited overs side, mainly because they are always packed full of experience.

In their middle order of Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni they have three of the finest strikers of the cricket ball ever seen, and Yuvraj in particular seems to be hitting it as cleanly as he ever has over his illustrious seventeen-year ODI career.

We saw how alien conditions can play wreak havoc with your technique perfectly when England went to India just before Christmas; the same should be true of India going the other way.  However, ever since their magical World Cup win in 2011, this Indian team tend to be able to rise above such boundaries and somehow put the huge amounts of pressure on them to the back of their minds in pursuit of more silverware.  No one would be surprised if they were to lift the cup once again this time around.

Achilles’ Heel

Despite the success of Jadeja in the previous edition of the competition, a large element to their success this time around will be dependent on how heavily they are needed to rely on their spinners.  Ashwin and Jadeja were unplayable throughout their never-ending winter of test cricket; however if they struggle on less helpful surfaces, a lot will rest on their seam attack, which while still very capable, is equally as unproven in English conditions.

Last Time?

World champions going into the 2013 tournament, India duly delivered on the utterly ridiculous levels of expectation always levelled at their white ball teams form back home and won the title.    There was added pressure on them seeing as it was their first major tournament in about twenty years without Sachin Tendulkar, but MS Dhoni led them well, and with Ravi Jadeja top of the wicket taking chart, and Shikhar Dhawan in sensational form throughout to comfortably top the batting list, India ended up as deserving champions.

Look out for Chances?

If their series against Australia is anything to go by, there will be never be a dull moment watching India in this tournament.  From on-field spats to off-field name calling, the press conferences are often as action-packed as the games when Virat Kohli is involved.  They won’t face the Aussies in the groups, but if they were to be drawn in the knockouts against them, expect the anticipation of some sparring to reach fever pitch.

Odds

9/2 – Fourth favourites (Betfair)

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