Apurv Shukla –
The second most prestigious event in cricket after the World Cup- the Champions Trophy starts in England on June 1, 2017.
The eighth edition of the event will see the top eight one-day playing nations, divided into two groups, to claim top honors over a fortnight. The compressed format of the event produces exciting cricket, with all games critical to a sides chance of making it to the knock out stages.
New Zealand: Kane Williamson leads an experienced squad to England, which will try to replicate the success of the team which won the second Champions Trophy in 2000. Fast bowlers Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne and all-rounder Corey Anderson have been recalled to the squad after proving their fitness in the ongoing Indian Premier League (IPL). Auckland’s McClenaghan has been an integral part of the Mumbai Indian’s squad, and has proved to be a versatile bowler adept at bowling in all situations. The key to Anderson’s recall has been his resuming bowling duties for Central Districts at the end of the New Zealand domestic season and for Delhi Daredevils at IPL. Black Caps will play an ODI tri-series in Ireland ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy which should provide ideal practice in the lead up to the marquee event.
India: The defending champions very nearly did not take part at this event. In April, International Cricket Council (ICC) approved a new constitution, governance structure, and a finance model, with the other full members outvoting the BCCI.
The BCCI had strong reservations against the financial and governance changes and threatened to pull out of the Champions Trophy in protest. Thankfully better sense has prevailed and the captain and coach combination of Virat Kohli and Anil Kumble face their biggest challenge to date with an experienced squad at their disposal. Mohammed Shami and Rohit Sharma make comeback in India colours after lengthy injury layoffs.
Australia look to add to their kitty of two Champions Trophy wins with the Steve Smith led side shaping up as strong contenders for the event. New South Wales all-rounder Moises Henriques was the surprise selection in the squad ahead of James Faulkner and Usman Khawaja. Chris Lynn has injured himself at IPL, and Australia will be fervently hoping the dashing batsman is fully fit by the time the Champions Trophy starts.
England: The bookmakers favourite, will look to win their first ever Champions Trophy. The squad led by Eoin Morgan has been playing exciting cricket. In Moeen Ali and Ben Stokes they probably have the best two all-rounders’ playing the game.
Others: Twice World-Cup champions West Indies will not be part of the event. They were piped by Bangladesh in the rankings for the top eight ODI teams. Will South Africa shed their tag as perennial underachievers at premier events? Will the mercurial Pakistan achieve success under captain and keeper Sarfraz Ahmed? Can Lasith Malinga help Sri Lanka win their second Champions Trophy?
The conditions in England will suit seam bowling. Teams with batting depth and good fielding as always will be dangerous propositions at the event. Cricket fans can sure expect a fortnight of exhilarating cricket.