Dubai, May 10 (IANS) Back in the ICC Champions Trophy squad after a gap of 11 years, veteran batsman Yuvraj Singh hopes for a “meaningful contribution” to help India defend its title during the June 1-18 tournament in England.
The southpaw made a sensational debut for India in the 2002 event in Kenya and featured in all events until 2006, before missing the 2009 and 2013 events.
“I am delighted to be returning to the India side for the 50-over ICC tournament and look forward to making a meaningful contribution as the side aims to defend its title,” Yuvraj was quoted as saying in an International Cricket Council (ICC) statement.
“Like any other ICC tournament, it will be a challenging event with each team arriving there believing it can lift the silverware on 18 June at The Oval.”
India are clubbed alongside Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka in one of the two groups, which Yuvraj acknowledged as tough but exuded confidence that the side will retain the crown.
“We are in a tough group, but at the same time we are a form side following a highly successful domestic season. We will target to carry forward the winning momentum into the ICC Champions Trophy so that we can become the second side after Australia to win back to back titles,” Yuvraj said.
Yuvraj, a veteran of 296 One-day Internationals (ODI) further said India have always felt at home while playing in England.
“The United Kingdom is an excellent location to host the ICC Champions Trophy. We have always felt at home away from home due to the overwhelming support we always receive there,” he said.
India has retained eight players from the successful team of 2013, namely Virat Kohli, who will captain India for the first time in a major ICC event, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma and Umesh Yadav.
For Dhoni, it will be his fourth appearance while former Pakistan skipper Shoaib Malik will be making his sixth successive appearance in the marquee tournament.
Only eight other players have played in six ICC Champions Trophy tournaments. They are Ricky Ponting (Australia), Rahul Dravid (India), Daniel Vettori (New Zealand), Mark Boucher and Jacques Kallis (both South Africa) and Sanath Jayasuriya, Mahela Jayawardena and Kumar Sangakkara (all Sri Lanka).
All the teams can make changes to their squads without needing an ICC approval until May 24. All player replacement requests from May 25 onwards will require the approval of the Event Technical Committee.