The recently concluded Champions Trophy had lots of excitement, especially for the Indian fans as they would be over the moon after successfully clinching the second consecutive major ICC title. England was no walk in the park and they made sure that India sweated it out to get past them.
The finals would be remembered for a long time by the Indian fans for the sheer grit and determination exhibited by the Indian youngsters. It was a slap on the face of the critics who wrote off India even before the tournament commenced.
Apart from the Indian youngsters, there were a few other players who played beautifully and they deserve a mention for carrying the team throughout the tournament. I am going to list out the best eleven that played in the tournament:
Shikhar Dhawan: The classy southpaw from Delhi was a revelation in this tournament. His consistence performances demonstrated that his whirlwind Test debut knock was no eyewash and that he truly belongs at this level. Playing instead of an experienced Virender Sehwag, Dhawan displayed a maturity at the top. His five innings comprised both aggression and caution as he was visibly hungry for runs. Being on the top of the run-getters table, he is an automatic choice for the opening slot.
Alastair Cook (C): The dynamic southpaw from England has led his side brilliantly to reach the finals of the last edition of the Champions trophy. He amassed two half centuries in the tournament with an average of 40 and has been a driving force in England’s success in the recent times.
Jonathan Trott: The South African-born English middle order batsman is a definition for consistency. His lowest score in the last 12 ODI innings is 37 (not considering the final since it was a 20-over game) and that speaks volumes about his form and temperament. He has successfully guided England to the final of the tournament and his contribution was crucial in England’s journey to the top. He would be the perfect number three batsmen, especially if Dhawan falls early.
Kumar Sangakkara (Wk): The elegant left hander from Sri Lanka has been in fine touch in the tournament. He stroked a classy century against England in a must-win game. He has the ability to play long innings and his consistency is second to none. He is one of the few players who could be called a complete batsman since his record in both ODI’s and Tests are enviable. He is in the top five in the run getters list in Champions trophy and would be a worthy addition to the playing eleven.
George Bailey: The stand-in Australian skipper is the only bright spot in the otherwise gloomy Australian side that took defeat as it came. He was the only player who held the team together making two fifties in the process. Though his selection in the ODI’s was criticised in the beginning, he has been quite consistent and averages around forty in the tournament.
Misbah ul-Haq: The Pakistan skipper would be my only addition from Pakistan to this eleven as they fared poorly in the tournament. But that doesn’t take anything away from his two beautiful knocks, one each against West Indies and South Africa. In the match against South Africa, even though half of Pakistan’s side were back in the hut, South Africa couldn’t rest easy before the fall of Misbah. That is the kind of impact he had on the match and for that he would be in my playing eleven.
Ravindra Jadeja: The left hand batsman from Saurashtra has been making steady progress in the international arena and has been the go to man for the Indian skipper. His form in this year has been fantastic and he deserves praise for the way he has carried himself in the side. His performance in the Champions Trophy which includes a five-for and a 40+ score stresses the importance of an all-rounder in the side. With 12 wickets in five matches, Ravindra Jadeja is a natural choice for the number seven spot.
Ryan McLaren: Scored an unbeaten half-century and picked up three wickets in the opening game against India, following it up with a four-wicket haul against Pakistan. McLaren has been instrumental in South Africa’s entry into the knockouts. He picked eight wickets in four matches with an economy of less than six.
Mitchell McClenaghan: The left arm seamer from New Zealand has made a rousing start to his career with some creditable performances with the ball. He took two four-wicket hauls to claim a place in this playing eleven. He has bowled well and with a little more support he could have taken New Zealand into the semi-finals.
R.Ashwin: The wily off spinner from Chennai has not been in great form in this tournament, yet he bowled economically to tie up one end with success. His bowling enabled the other bowlers to pick more wickets frequently. He picked eight wickets from five games with economy under five which is incredible in conditions that are not suited for spin bowling.
James Anderson: This seamer from Lancashire has been in eminent touch in the tournament bamboozling the best of batsmen with his pace and swing. He took eleven wickets at an average of 15 and has delivered whenever the skipper has turned to him for a wicket.
Notable Omissions: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, MS Dhoni, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene, Joe Root, Ravi Bopara, Ishant Sharma.