Title-holders India will look to put an off-field row behind them when they face arch-rivals Pakistan in their Champions Trophy opener at Edgbaston on Sunday.
The build-up to what is arguably cricket’s most anticipated fixture has been dominated by reports of a falling out between India captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble.
Former India leg-spinner Kumble has overseen five Test series wins since his appointment in June last year.
His contract expires after the end of the Champions Trophy but many have questioned the wisdom of the Board of Control for Cricket in India’s decision to advertise Kumble’s job a week before the one-day international tournament starts.
Ramachandra Guha, who quit a Supreme Court-appointed four-member committee overseeing the BCCI in protest, said in his letter of resignation: “If indeed the captain and the head coach were not getting along, why was this not attended to as soon as the Australia series was over in late March?.
“Why was it left until the last minute, when a major international tournament was imminent?”
There were fears India may not even get the chance to defend the title they won at Edgbaston four years by beating hosts England in a thrilling final reduced by rain to 20 overs per side, after the BCCI hinted at a boycott of the 50-over tournament as a result of a revenue-sharing dispute with the International Cricket Council (ICC).
But Kohli, one of the most driven players now in world cricket, said as his squad left for England: “The hunger to win and ruthlessness is what we speak about all the time.”
The India captain leads a powerful batting line-up, with former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi, in a column for www.icc-cricket.com, writing: “While Kohli is the backbone, India possesses considerable firepower around him. Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are all match-winners.”
Afridi also noted the “balance” in a bowling attack which is set to include seamers by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami as well as the spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.