Lot has been said and written about the clash of the top 8 teams of the cricketing fraternity in the upcoming Champions Trophy-2017 starting from 1st of June. The build-up for the trophy has been amazing with eventually every team claiming or rather presenting their representation. The political fight between the arch rivals India and Pakistan has also fired up the cause.
It’s only few hours to go for the big contest to kick-off and warm-up matches have already begun. The ODI series between England and South Africa is on the course too. Let’s Talk Game have brought this special series of articles evaluating the representation and strength and weakness of each team. Before that, all the teams have been equally divided into two groups.
The groups are
Group A: Australia, Bangladesh, England and New Zealand
Group B: India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and South Africa.
Well, it’s pretty obvious that both the groups are pretty tight and each match counts. And as Wasim Akram says it,” The name itself suggests: Champions Trophy, the fight of Champions”.
We have divided this series into two articles and here we evaluate the GROUP A teams followed by another article where we analyze the later one.
Well, we start with the Current world champions, Team Australia led by its charismatic Captain, Steven Smith. The opening looks great in the light of Warner and Finch and recently concluded IPL shows us why! The team might have concerns in the middle and lower order with only Steven Smith taking the charge but Maxwell, Head and Wade might help the cause. The Pace has always been the key part for the Oz and once again in the seaming conditions of England, they would like to exploit it. Overall, a well balanced team, but lack of experience in middle order and spin department might steal some intensity from the team. I think going into the semi finals might be a doable task for the team considering their form and composition.
Next up on the list is the neighbors of OZ, the Black Caps- New Zealand. Black Caps under the captaincy of Kane Willamson, the ever reliable Kane and one of the Big 4 of the modern cricket, look a well-adjusted side. The team has played some good cricket in the recent past and ended up as the runners up of WC’15. The side will miss Macullum but the likes of Guptill, Latham and Anderson will provide the much needed impetus to the team. More-over the pace department looks formidable and strong. Boult, Southee and Milne are in great form and team will expect some fiery performance from them. The spin department also looks promising but lacks experience. Jeetan Patel and Santer have shown some credibility but they still have a long way to go. But all in all, a good looking experienced side.
They call this team the tigers (Bangladesh) and there is a reason for this. Eliminating India in 2007 and England in 2015 world cup is one such cameos this team is capable of performing. If it’s their day, the best team even looks feeble in front of them but it is the experience and X-factor that devoid them from being a good team. It’ll be a test for this team which has knocked-out West Indies to earn a seat in this competition and it strong under Mashrafe Mortaza. Tamim is brilliant at the start and kayes, Sabbir Rehman, Mushfiqur Rahim and inarguably their greatest Player, Shakib-al-Hasan provides a good looking foundation to the team. Mustafijur Rehman is genius with the ball and will be perilous in these situations. All in all, a well-assembled side but experience and ability to sustain pressure are what matters. After all, 2016 T20 World Cup match against India provides the perfect example of choking to anxiety. The situations will be testing and so the opponents, but three good performances can earn them a seat in Semis.
The description of the Group A will be incomplete without mention of the Host and far most the strongest team on paper in this group, Team England. Under the leadership of Eoin Morgan and with Root at number three, Hales and Roy at the start and Buttler, Woakes, Stokes and Baristow coming in later on, England looks a well balanced and of course, the strongest side. For bowling, the variations provided by Stokes, Woakes, Jake Ball and Wiley and with Rashid coming into the act, the things look sorted for the side. Favorable Home conditions will add a brownie point in favour of the Barmy Army. But this being said, home pressure and grueling past may act in the negative direction for them.
For the matter of fact, all the four team looks strong on paper and provide an umpteen challenge to each other. The task won’t be easy and each match counts. Will OZ en-cash on a good team or the host will capitalize the home advantage or Black caps puts up another defining performance or we envisage another unexpected show from Bangla Tigers, only time stands the witness.
Don’t forget to read the second part of the series analyzing the Group B teams.
PS- The big four of the modern day cricket are Virat Kohli, Joe Root, Kane Williamson and Steven Smith.
Pic Credits: Cricinfo