ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Your guide to the eight cricket teams
We take a look at the eight countries in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, their previous efforts in this competition and what they will bring this timeicc champions trophy 2017 Updated: May 31, 2017 11:37 IST
England out to win on home soil, India defending their trophy and Australia trying to prove their world-champion credentials - the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is set to be as keenly contested as ever.
Behind that trio of favourites, the likes of South Africa and New Zealand will have designs on winning the trophy for a second time, while Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh will prove tricky customers.
We take a look at the eight countries’ previous efforts in this competition and what they will bring this time.
Previous best: Runners-up (2004, 2013)
Hosting this tournament for the third time, England will hope to go one better than the previous two times which they have welcomed the world’s best and win the trophy.
In Ben Stokes, they possess the world’s premier all-rounder and Jos Buttler’s position as scorer of England’s three fastest ODI hundreds marks him as a key player.
The white-ball revolution led by Eoin Morgan after a car-crash 2015 Cricket World Cup will get a second chance to win silverware, following last year’s run to the World Twenty20 final, where West Indies prevailed.
Previous best: Winner (2006, 2009)
It will be worth remembering that Australia are world champions, with much of their recent 50-over form leaving much to be desired, including a 5-0 whitewashing in South Africa and failure to win in New Zealand earlier this year.
On their day, there isn’t an opening partnership like David Warner and Aaron Finch, while a cabal of fast bowlers including Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins should test any opposition in seamer-friendly English conditions.
A mercurial middle-order remains their weakness, with Glenn Maxwell and – increasingly in ODIs – captain Steve Smith equally capable of destroying teams or their own side’s chances by throwing wickets away.
Previous best: Group stage (2002, 2004)
Drawn against England, New Zealand and Australia – three teams well versed in pace-friendly conditions – few will be backing Bangladesh to progress from the group stage for the first time in this tournament.
However, they picked up impressive wins over Ireland and New Zealand on the Emerald Isle in May, beating the Black Caps away from home for the first time in the process.
Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar and Sabbir Rahman all showed an ability to hit useful runs in that tri-series, while Mustafizur Rahman’s return of 4-23 against the Irish will have Bangladesh hoping he can replicate his World Twenty20 heroics of last year, when he took nine wickets in three matches at a devastating 9.55.
Previous best: Winner (2002 - shared with Sri Lanka, 2013)
Both of India’s successes in this competition have come in odd, rain-affected ways, but nine of 2013’s winners are back to prove that it was no fluke to beat England in a final that ultimately became a Twenty20 match – in which the less-than-explosive likes of Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott featured.
Though much stays the same, perhaps more has changed for India with Virat Kohli taking over from MS Dhoni as captain.
Kohli’s only series as captain thus far in 50-over action was the successful 2-1 win over England, but – including the last Champions Trophy – India have won eight of their last 10 ODIs on British soil.
Previous best: Winner (2000)
Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill will be in hitting form after stints in the IPL, where Mitchell McClenaghan was the most prolific overseas bowler with 19 wickets at 26.68.
Guptill’s unbeaten 237 at the World Cup two years ago was a record score in that tournament and the Black Caps remain tricky customers even after the retirement of Brendon McCullum, although a recent series loss on home soil against South Africa hinted that some of their old magic may be on the wane.
Behind their superstars, things also look flimsy. A second-string selection won the tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh, but losing to the Tigers in the process was a poor result.
Previous best: Semi-finals (2000, 2004, 2009)
This being Pakistan, of course there has been turmoil coming into the tournament, with Umar Akmal sent home due to a lack of fitness and likely fast bowler Mohammad Irfan banned as part of a match-fixing investigation.
What Pakistan do have in their favour, however, is a fine captain in Sarfraz Ahmed and a tide of gooey-eyed mysticism behind them following the recent retirements from the Test arena of Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan.
A 4-1 ODI defeat in Australia earlier this year cost Azhar Ali the 50-over captaincy, but he is back with plenty to prove. Azhar and Sarfraz scored over 500 runs between them across five ODIs in England last year.
Previous best: Winner (1998)
Much is made of the Proteas’ notorious struggles at the business end of major tournaments, their victory in this competition’s inaugural staging remains their only final in international action.
The talent in the squad is undeniable. AB de Villiers is the holder of the fastest-ever ODI hundred, Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis are able lieutenants and Kagiso Rabada and Imran Tahir possess the necessary skills to blow any batting line-up apart.
As ever, it will come down to the South Africans’ mentality at the crunch.
Previous best: Winner (2002 - shared with India)
Angelo Mathews’ squad is an inexperienced one in terms of international action, but the captain’s birthday during the tournament will make it nine players from 15 in their 30s among the selection.
There is depth of experience in the bowling, where Lasith Malinga will lead the likes of Nuwan Kulasekara and Suranga Lakmal, although Mathews will likely be required to anchor any substantial efforts with the bat.
Sri Lanka’s last ODI – a victory against Bangladesh – was their first after six successive defeats, which encompassed a 5-0 whitewashing in South Africa.
First Published: May 31, 2017 10:54 IST