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Team profiles: Champions Trophy 2017

AUSTRALIA

The current world champions and twice trophy winners, Australia are as formidable as they are aggressive. They are one of the top favourites to win one more title, if they overcome the arch-rivals England.

Steve Smith has matured significantly ever since he took over from Michael Clarke following the World Cup triumph on home grounds. His batting has even more flourished under the pressure of captaincy. Smith has with him a bunch of destructive batsmen, starting with the hard hitting David Warner and Aaron Finch. Following in the order are Smith, Chris Lynn, Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Moises Henriques, the best you can think of.

With Mitchell Starc fit to spearhead the attack, Australia have the most formidable pace bowling with James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, John Hastings and the two allrounders. Adam Zampa and Maxwell will share the spin duties.

As one of the top fielding units, Australia have the wherewithal to beat any team on their day.

BANGLADESH

Since the 2015 World Cup, Bangladesh is the most improved team after England. After upsetting England in the 2015 World Cup, the Tigers have won home ODI series against Pakistan, South Africa and India. Their recent maiden away victory over New Zealand lifted them to their best ODI rankings of sixth.

That rise could further encourage Bangladesh to do well in this Champions trophy, having won a single match in the qualifying rounds of the competition in 2006.

Mashrafe Mortaza has proved a shrewd and aggressive captain and with a powerful batting unit backed up by wicket taking ability of Mustafizur Rehman, Bangladesh can upset an opponent or two to reach the last four. Tamim Iqbal and Soumiya Sarkar provide a robust start to the innings with Sabbir Rehman, Mushfiqur Rehman, Mossadek Hossein and Mahmudullah giving the much needed impetus to the innings.

But Bangladesh’s success will once again largely depend on the form of allrounder Shakib Al Hasan who is a match winner with both bat and ball.

Mustafiz leads the pace attack which also has Taskin Ahmed, Rubel Hossein and Shafiul Islam. The wily off-spinner Mehedi Hasan Reza is new to ODIs but has the guile to befool the best batsmen on his day.

ENGLAND

For the first time in their history England are top title favourites. On their home grounds with their rejuvenated ODI style England are regarded as favourites to add to the only ICC title they won way back in 2010 when they won the World Twenty20.

Since their shabby World Cup 2015 exit before the quarter-finals, England have remarkably transformed and are now playing the real brand of 50 over cricket. Since the 2015 World Cup they have scored over 350 runs eight times and under Australian coach Trevor Bayliss matured into a strong ODI side.

England have the strongest batting line-up with both openers Alex Hales and Jason Roy ruthless at the top, Roy’s strike rate is over 100 while Hales’s is just one short. Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Butler also have strike rates of over 100 while Eoin Morgan and Joe Root can hit the ball as hard and as clean as anyone in the world.

The pace attack sees the return of Mark Wood who can be very nippy and quick. Chris Woakes, David Willey, Liam Plunkett and Jack Ball all have pace and swing while Stokes is handy in the middle over with his wicket taking ability. In Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid England have useful spinners who make them an ideal package for ODIs.

Read More: Champions Trophy: New Pakistan skipper Sarfraz faces acid test

INDIA

The defending champions are more mature and formidable than 2013. Although the core of the team remains the same but they are more mature with a strong pace attack.

Virat Kohli has taken over from MS Dhoni as captain and brings in more aggression and fitness demands. Kohli will be the linchpin of batting although his record in the last Champions Trophy as well as India’s tour the following year in 2014 was modest. His form in the IPL was also of concern but with his resolve to perform at the top level, Kohli can be a treat to watch.

Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma can carry the 2013 form as openers. Kohli, Ajinkya Rahanay, Yuvraj Singh, Kedhar Jhadev, MS Dhoni, Ravindera Jadeja and Hardik Pandya form a stable and potent batting order. IPL has given Indian batsmen the much needed knack of power hitting.

In Bhuvenashwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami India has their best-ever pace attack for years. Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja will also like to match the 2013 form in the spin department.

PAKISTAN

Pakistan stands very little chance of reaching the last four, but when you say this and release the pressure off the young side they win and surprise everyone.

New captain Sarfraz Ahmed adds aggression to the team by leading it from the front and if he keeps that same instinct then Pakistan can upset any team on their day. Pakistan have a very strong pace attack with Mohammad Amir, Wahab Riaz, Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali but their brittle batting which is notorious for playing too many dot balls can be their bane.

Babar Azam and Imad Waseem are the two lively players who can give fillip to the batting with the experience of Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfra to count on. Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf are thenew allrounders who can make their name at this highest level. Pakistan would be using Shadab as their trump card against South Africa.

Pakistan’s only two successes against India in an ICC event have come in the Champions Trophy (2004 and 2009) and that could be an added motivation for them.

Overall players’ fitness and fielding have improved which put Pakistan players in the right stead to show their skills.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand’s only win in a multi-national event came in the 2000 Champions trophy in Kenya. Since then they always pose threat but have not been able to turn their potential into performances.

Ken Williamson leads a side which has well equipped players but how they execute their skills remains to be seen. Perched at number for in the ICC ODI rankings, New Zealand are bracketed in the tough group with world champions Australia and title favourites England. That needs them to beat at least one of the two.

Williamson leads a strong batting line up with experienced Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor as the lead anchors. Tom Latham, Neil Broom, Jimmy Neesham, Luke Ronchi, Clin de Grandhome and Corey Anderson will provide the firepower.

New Zealand have the firepower in pace with Mitchell McGlenghan, Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Adam Milne while Mitchell Santner is the spinning allrounder while Jeetan Patel will be the second spinner ably matured at county level.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africans are the perennial chokers of international cricket – a tag that mercilessly follow them at all major international events which they desperately want to shed off.

Under AB de Villiers they once again have the best ODI outfit and are top of the rankings but event that does not guarantee they can add to their only one ICC title they won in 1998. In those days the Champions trophy was named as “ICC knock Out tournament.”

At the top of their batting they have the every reliable Hashim Amla and the fast rising Quinton de Cock. Faf du Plessis is another reliable batsman but the main onus is on De Villiers whose 360 degree hitting makes him the most dangerous batsman in the world. He holds the records for fastest fifty off 16 balls and fastest hundred off 31 balls.

Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris and Andile Phehlukwayo can give the real impetus in the slog overs. Despite missing the guile and pace of Dale Steyn, South Africa still have Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Morris, Phehlukwayo and Prestorious to handle the pace attack while Imran Tahir’s wicket taking leg-breaks and Keeshav Maharaj’s disguising left arm spin will also be handy as back up.

All South Africa need is to throw the monkey off their backs and show the world they are capable of showing their skills at all times.

SRI LANKA

Sri Lanka is a young team brimming with talent. Captain Angelo Mathews’s return to the side after missing part of the South Africa and full Australia tour is a good omen for the team. Mathews not only leads the team well but his contributions are significant in both bowling and batting departments.

Upul Tharanga and Niroshan Dickwella can be explosive at the top of the order with Kusal Mendis, Chamara Kapugadera,  Kushal Prera, Mathews, Chandimal and Asela Gunaratne they have stable batting. The twin skills of Thisara Prera always add to the value of this young team. The pace attacks sees the return of

Lasith Malinga but his fitness will be the key. Suranga Lukmal, Nuwan Kulasekera and Nuwan Pradeep are all experienced in the pace attack while Seekkuge Prasana and Lakshan Chandakan are handy spinners.

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