Champions Trophy, one of the biggest cricketing tournaments after the ICC World Cup, has begun at the Oval in London. The inaugural tournament of the ICC Champions Trophy, which is a one day international cricket tournament, was held in 1998 which saw South Africa emerging as the winners. Also referred to as the Mini World Cup by some people, the event is held approximately every two years and the last one, which was held in 2015, witnessed India bagging the coveted cup.
Apart from the 2013 Champions Trophy, India had also won in 2002 and had shared the cup with Sri Lanka. Australia has won the trophy twice in 2006 and 2009. Other than South Africa, New Zealand and the West Indies, who unfortunately failed to qualify for the 2017 Champions Trophy, have won the trophy in 2000 and 2004, respectively. So, it remains to be seen whether India, the defending champions, will be able to regain the cup.
Team India were the defending champions in 2013 so the pressure would obviously be on them. The team is being led by the energetic Virat Kohli and it should ne noted that under his captaincy, India has not lost an ODI in the past year. India has gained victory over England, Zimbabwe and New Zealand and two of these teams are a part of the 2017 Champions Trophy. Moreover, Virat Kohli has the calm and composed Dhoni by his side, who has tons of experience behind him and the ability to win matches on his own.
Pakistan is really the team to watch out for. Though the team comprises a number of youngsters but the ones to watch out for are Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik, the two most experienced players of the country. Others players to watch out for are fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, and Shadab Khan. Though the batting is no longer what it used to be but your never know when Pakistan would bounce back.
Australia have already won the Champions Trophy twice and would surely be looking for their third win. Australia has a powerful batting lineup and some of the names to watch out for in the team are Aaron Finch, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, and of course, captain Steve Smith. So, with the Aussies hungry for victory, India will surely face a formidable opponent.
South Africa won the inaugural tournament in 1998 and are waiting for their second victory. South Africa would surely be looking to rid themselves of the tag ‘chokers’. And they have every chance of making it big this time with openers like Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock, who have come to be known for their superb partnerships. Other players to watch out are JP Duminy, David Miller, Faf du Plessis and de Villiers. On the bowling side are Kagiso Rabada and leggie Imran Tahir who can be pretty lethal.
England has not won a single tournament and that does make them a dangerous side as they would keen on a win. And England can surely make it this time as they have a strong batting line up. Jason Roy and Alex Hales are an explosive opening pair and every team would like to get them out or else England might end up making a huge score. Other players to watch out for are Ben Stokes, who is currently the best all-rounder in the world, and Eoin Morgan and Joe Root, who are the captain and vice captain. Apart from, this England has a balanced bowling attack which would surely make the situation tough for the opponents.
It has been 17 years since New Zealand has won a Champions Trophy tournament. The team had won the tournament way back in 2000. In international cricket, the Black Caps have usually been the dark horses but if they get their line up right, no one can stop them from winning the 2017 Champions Trophy. The team has some top names such as Williamson, who is the skipper and one of the top three batsmen in the world. Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor on the batting side, while Trent Boult, Adam Milne, Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan can give some anxious moments to their opponents.
Sri Lanka won one tournament in 2002 as co-champions with India. So, they would definitely be eyeing the 2017 championship. However, the team is on shaky ground and has witnessed its ranking slipping to the 7th position. However, the confidence of the team is sky high with the return of Angelo Matthews, and Lasith Malinga, who is always hungry for wickets. Other players who give the Sri Lankan team an edge are batsman Kusal Perera and Dinesh Chandimal. On the bowling side, Nuwan Kulasekera is the fast bowler to watch out for. It would be interesting to watch him bowling to the opponents. Meanwhile, all-rounder Thisara Perera completes the team.
Bangladesh are no longer the minnows that they were once considered to be. They can surely win the match and if not, spoil the fun for some big guns. During the past few years, Bangladesh has made a rapid rise in international cricket and today is taken rather seriously by every team. Mustafizur Rahman, who is returning to the team after being absent due to an injury, will give the team the much needed bowling firepower. The batting lineup which includes the likes of Mahmudullah, Tamim Iqbal, and Mushfiqur Rahim can really give the opponent blowers headaches.
So, who would win the 2017 Champions Trophy? For that you would have to wait till June 18, when the exciting finals would be played.