The star opener reclaimed his spot as the first-choice opener after having spent four months looking after a thigh injury, which he picked up in November last year. Rohit returned to the cricket circuit in March 2017 and has played 11 matches for Mumbai Indians so far in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL).
Shami, 27, who last featured in India’s World Cup semi-final against Australia more than two years ago, has also secured a place in the 15-men squad. He was India’s best bowler in the 2015 World Cup but his glorious run came to a halt after a string of chronic leg injuries barred him from playing any format of cricket.
The other fast bowlers named in the 15-member squad are Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav. Hardik Pandya is also included to provide balance to the side.
Veteran all-rounder Yuvraj Singh has also retained his place in the team, while ace spinner Ravi Ashwin — who played a key role in helping India win the Champions Trophy in 2013 — has also managed to secure a place after having missed the current Indian Premier League due to injury.
“Ashwin’s selection was not a difficult decision. He’s had rest, isn’t out of form. We’ve been preparing him for the Champions Trophy” said MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors after the announcement.
MS Dhoni, as expected, will take care of keeping responsibilities and is the only keeper-batsman named in the squad. When asked about the decision of not including a backup wicketkeeper, Prasad heaped tons of praises for the former India skipper, saying he has been a fine performer for India for many years.
“We all believe that MSD is still the best wicketkeeper in the world,” said Prasad.
“Focussing on his batting form, he is an invaluable asset to the team when it comes to crunch situations. His inputs… and he has got one of the best brains. He is the best person to guide Virat. Not many people realise that in the last 10-12 years that MS has played, he has never had a bad day as far his gloves are concerned. We always treat him as a batsman but the phenomenal stuff that he does behind the wickets, not many people appreciate.”
KL Rahul, who has developed into one of India’s key players in recent years, has been left out of the squad after not recovering fully from a shoulder injury. Shikhar Dhawan has been included in his absence, who will join Rohit Sharma in the opening slot. Gautam Gambhir, though, once again hasn’t been included despite impressive IPL season.
India will begin their title defense campaign against Pakistan on June 4 at Edgbaston.