With under 2 days to go for the start of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, where team India start the defense of their title they won in 2013, under the leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Four years later, not much has changed apart from the fact that there is a new leader in the Indian pack. Virat Kohli would be leading team India into the field but let us see the realistic chances of team India going all the way in the tournament. India start their campaign against arch-rivals Pakistan, which is pitted to be a high-octane clash. Some in India feel differently about the clash as some feel India is too strong for Pakistan. But, all put to rest let us find out why team India stands a good chance of winning the coveted crown.

Gabbar is back: Shikhar Dhawan, who played a pivotal role in India’s Champions Trophy triumph in 2013 by scoring two crucial hundreds is back and back in form. He was off colour in the past couple of years but he has come back in form, as we discovered in the IPL. He emerged as the second highest run-getter in the IPL. Dhawan was also seen timing the ball well against the Kiwis in the warm-up game. So, that means India’s openers are sorted. We may see Rohit open the batting with Dhawan.

The Virat Factor: Virat missed out the fourth Test against Australia due to a left shoulder injury and that is where his dip in form started. Kohli has been in dream touch till he finally played IPL 10 for Royal Challengers Bangalore after missing out on the initial games for the franchisee. Virat Kohli has been the main reason behind team India’s success in the recent past. But the last game, which was a warm-up game saw Virat getting back in form as the ball was finding the middle of his bat. He scored 52 to help India emerge trumps in a game decided by D/L method.

Bhuvi-Bumrah’s death roll: Team India can surely boast of having the best death over bowlers in the tournament. Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah have shown they are irreplaceable in the death overs. The duo will be the trump card for Virat Kohli, who knows India historically suffered bowling in the death overs. They will also have Mohammad Shami for company, who may not be used with the old ball.

Butterfingers, so yesterday: Yes, this team India is athletic, acrobatic, sharp, quick and energetic. Traditionally, in the 1990’s India was a poor fielding unit but with the game having modernised over the last decade, fielding is a decisive factor in team selection as well. This team India has the best ground fielders in the world, who can hit the stumps on the move. Jadeja, Kohli, Karthik, Rahane are good, lightening quick fielders. Even Yuvraj Singh has not lost it all, he is decent. Fitness is a necessity in today’s cricket.

MSD’s finishing kick: Mahendra Singh Dhoni is at the twilight of his career and this could very well be his last ICC event as well. He has shown that there is no dip in his fitness levels after a playing cricket for more than a decade. Mahendra Singh Dhoni at this age could give the youngsters a run for their money, that is how fit and quick he is between wickets. The responsibility will be on MSD and Yuvraj Singh to provide the finishing kick to the innings. There is experience in abundance in the middle-order which will surely be counted in the course of the tournament.