With the ongoing tussle between the International Cricket Council and the Board of Control for Cricket in India, the Indian cricket team might pull out of the ICC Champions Trophy which is to be held in England in June.
However, given the fact that all of India’s matches are already sold out at the tournament, as a sign of protest, the management could decide to send a second string side.
That would mean that the likes of Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh might not take part in the tournament and thus they would have to look for a new captain as well.
Here are the 5 potential captains for the second string side for India at the ICC Champions Trophy
#5 Suresh Raina
He has a considerable amount of experience as the captain of the Indian cricket team when he led a second string side to victories against West Indies way back in 2011 and Zimbabwe in 2016. He was the second youngest Indian captain and his tactics were lauded by some West Indies legends.
He is currently the captain of the Gujarat Lions franchise and led them to the top of the table in the 2016 edition of the IPL. They are currently trying to revive their campaign after a poor start to the tournament in 2017.
Given his poor form off late in Indian colours, this could be the perfect opportunity for Raina to rejuvenate his career and cement his place in the Indian cricket team for future series.
#4 Ambati Rayudu
Ambati Rayudu is one of the few players who must feel hard done by the fact that he has hardly ever played for the Indian cricket team despite consistently performing well at the domestic level.
He was rewarded for his hard work when he made his debut for the Indian ODI side against Zimbabwe in 2013 where he scored a half-century and formed a match-winning partnership with Virat Kohli.
Despite having an average of 50 in 34 ODIs, he hardly gets a chance to make his mark for the Men in Blue. To this date, he continues to play an integral role for the Mumbai Indians in the middle order.
With a lot of experience on his side, he could be the perfect fit to captain a second string Indian side at the Champions Trophy.
#3 Manish Pandey
This 27-year-old from Karnataka had a lot of heads turning when he became the first Royal Challengers Bangalore batsman to smash a century in the IPL way back in 2009. He was even the highest run-getter in the Ranji Trophy the same year. However, he had to wait until 2015 to make his debut for the national side.
He has performed decently well in the 12 matches he has played but has not shown a lot of consistency. He has 261 runs to his name in 9 innings at an average of 43.50 which includes a match-winning century against Australia in Adelaide in 2016 which helped prevent a whitewash for India.
If India were to send a second string side, he could be well up to the task to captain the side and gain some experience.
#2 Harbhajan Singh
India’s most successful off-spinner till date, Harbhajan Singh was not awarded a contract by the BCCI this year. He last played for India in the 2016 Asia Cup against the United Arab Emirates.
He has an immense amount of experience under his belt and has quite a bit of captaincy experience as well by captaining the Mumbai Indians side in the IPL.
If India does not send their first string side to the tournament, Harbhajan could most likely take up the role of the no. 1 spinner of the side and captain the side as well.
He has picked up 269 wickets in 236 ODIs at an average of 33.35 and an economy rate of 4.31.
#1 Gautam Gambhir
This 35-year-old is the captain India never had and it’s a shame that he was not given the opportunity to captain the side apart from once against New Zealand in 2010 when India won 5-0.
He has proved to be one of the best captains in the IPL as well and has lifted the title twice with Kolkata Knight Riders. Under Gautam Gambhir’s leadership this year, KKR have looked an extremely solid unit and with the way they are going, they could be well on their way to achieving their third IPL title.
He has been in sublime form with the bat as well and is currently the second highest run scorer in the IPL this year. He deserves to be included in the side for the Champions Trophy and is the most likely candidate to captain a second string side.