Mumbai: The national cricket selectors are certain to discuss performances in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL) while picking the squad for the Champions Trophy here Saturday.
Though the IPL lasts till May 26, the selectors might already have taken down copious notes on players from the 30 probables to fill the handful of vacancies for the tournament to be held in England June 6-23.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shikhar Dhawan should be certainties, the last-named after his rollicking Test century on debut against Australia at Mohali.
That leaves five places up for grabs. Of these, at least three pacers will have to be picked, besides a seventh batsman and a second spinner.
Dhawan may edge out Ajinkya Rahane unless the Mumbai batsman is considered for a middle-order place where, too, he will face stiff competition from Dinesh Karthik, if not Manoj Tiwary, on their current form.
Karthik has grabbed with both hands the opportunity to bat at number three. He has stood out in the star-studded Mumbai Indians line-up, collecting 331 runs from 10 innings and he figures second only to Rohit Sharma.
The wicket-keeper batsman from Chennai could also be the back-up glovesman for Dhoni, though he has played as a specialist batsman in the past.
And for those who think IPL performance cannot be a criteria for national call-up, Karthik says: "IPL is a platform where you play the best of the bowlers. If you get runs against them, it is a great morale booster. You know you are ready to perform for India." He last played for India in August 2010.
Injury-prone Tiwary has had an ordinary IPL so far and Rahane's role for Rajasthan Royals was that of an anchor in which he did reasonably well.
Among the bowlers, leg-spinner Amit Mishra's name should crop up. He has been the most successful Indian spinner in the IPL, taking 16 wickets, including his third tournament hat-trick, at an average of 14.81.
Mishra was recalled for the recent ODI series against England but he could not get a game. He has not donned national colours since August 2011.
Vinay Kumar should be one pacer who looks good to get in on form. He is the leading Indian wicket-taker in the IPL with 18 scalps at 18.88. Umesh Yadav seems to have regained his fitness and also pace and he should be vying for one of the two remaining berths with Ishant Sharma, Praveen Kumar and Ashok Dinda.
Unfortunately for him, Mohammad Shami, who did well in the limited opportunities he got against England, has not been a regular for Kolkata Knight Riders to showcase his form.
A heartening thing is that almost all the bowlers are handy batsmen.
The squad has to be picked from the following 30 probables:
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, Ambati Rayudu, Kedar Jadhav, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Dinesh Karthik, Ravichandran Ashwin, Amit Mishra, Ravindra Jadeja, Jalaj Saxena, Parvez Rasool, Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Dinda, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Irfan Pathan, Vinay Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Ishwar Pandey, Sidharth Kaul.