Champions Trophy 2017- Team Profiles and Overview

We are at that part of the year that will bring us the excitement of lot of Cricket…
This year the 8th edition of Champions trophy is being held in England between 1st June and 18th June, 2017. The top 8 teams qualify for the Champions trophy. The 8 teams are divided into 2 groups of 4 teams each. The top two teams from each group qualify for the semi finals.
Group A consist of Australia, England, Bangladesh and New Zealand. Matches to look out for will be the ashes rivalry between England and Australia and the trans Tasmanian rivalry of Australia and New Zealand. Bangladesh would also give tough completion to the other teams and could create upsets in the group.
Group B consist of defending Champions India, Pakistan, Srilanka and South Africa. Matches to watch out for will the infamous rivalry between India and Pakistan and the match between India and South Africa. India are favorites to top the group due to the recent form of the team under Captain Kohli is terrific and they are yet to lose a series.
Below are the profiles of each team participating in the tournament this year
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England
England were the finalist in the last edition of champions trophy and after their terrible 2015 world cup campaign England have had a sort of a rebirth under their captain Eoin Morgan. They have started to play fearless cricket and as hosts they are favorites to win this edition of Champions Trophy. 
With an explosive opening pair in Jason Roy and Alex Hales and have power hitters like Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes and captain himself Eoin Morgan, they can tear down the best bowling lineup on a given day. This can be seen as they are regularly breaching the 300 run mark in ODI’s and recently even broke the record for the highest runs in an innings in an ODI.
Their weakness however can be their bowling attack. They are inexperienced and team like Australia and New Zealand can use it to their advantage.
Predicted playing XI- Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan (capt), Ben Stokes, Moeen Ali, Jos Buttler (wk), Adil Rashid, Liam Plunkett, David Willey, Mark Wood
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Bangladesh
Bangladesh are making their comeback in the tournament after the 2006 edition. They have risen in international cricket recently and have shown they can beat any team. They are the underdogs of the tournament but they can cause upsets too.
Their main advantage is that they started start to play fearless cricket and have nothing to lose in this tournament. They have world class players like Shakib al Hasan, Mustafizur Rahamn and Mushfiqur Rahim.
However their main disadvantage is their inexperience in big ICC tournaments. They fail to make a mark in such tournaments and always crash out.
Predictied playing XI- Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim (wk), Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Sunzamul Islam, Mossadek Hossain, Rubel Hossain, Mashrafe Mortaza (capt), Mustafizur Rahman
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Australia
The already two times champions will be fancying their chances to be champions for the third time. All the players picked up good form in the Indian Premier League especially players like David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith.
Their main advantage is that they have a balanced squad and will like play four frontline pace bowlers to exploit the English conditions. Steve smith also is a smart captain and knows which player thrives under which conditions.
Their weakness however remains the spin bowling department. Smith does not have many spin bowling options and only Adam Zampa is a frontline spin bowler. The other spin bowling option Smith has is part time spinner Glenn Maxwell. Other cause of concern can be the fitness and match practice of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.. Starc pulled out from the IPL because of a recurring ankle injury while Hazlewood last took to the field in March against India in the Dharamsala Test.
Predicted playing XI-  David Warner, Aaron Finch, Steven Smith (capt), Travis Head, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), Moises Henriques, John Hastings, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
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New Zealand
The only ICC trophy the Black Caps have won is the 2002 edition of Champions trophy. New Zealand has entered all the tournaments as the dark horses and can play some really good cricket. They have picked up form under their new captain Kane Williamson.
New Zealand has plenty of experience of the conditions, explosive hitting throughout the batting order, three unique fast bowlers and a crafty spin-bowling all-rounder. They are a well oiled unit in ODI’s and their batsmen are in good form.
However New Zealand depend on their batsmen too much especially captain Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill. Their bowling seems to be areas of concern .They have been leaking runs especially towards the end and that was observed in the recently concluded tri-series against Ireland and Bangladesh.
Predicted starting XI-Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Luke Ronchi (wk), Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Trent Boult
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South Africa
The inaugural winners (then called ICC Knockout Trophy) and also one of the most well balanced teams of the tournament, South Africa would want to win some silverware to shake their tag of chokers.
They enter the tournament as the top ranked team of ODI’s and with batsmen like Hasim Amla and AB de Villers, they would fancy their chances at finally winning the trophy again.
Though this South African side has almost all the bases covered and doesn’t seem to have any weakness, they have the perennial problem of choking in the knockout stages.
 Predicted playing XI- Quinton de Kock (wk), Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers (capt), JP Duminy, David Miller, Andile Phehlukwayo, Chris Morris, Kagiso Rabada, Morne Morkel, Imran Tahir
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Sri Lanka
Led by Angelo Matthews, the young brigade of Sri Lanka, despite going through a transitional phase, will be competing alongside the heavyweights of world cricket. They can be considered as potential dark horses and they can play with a nothing-to-lose attitude and see whether they can become the giant killers of the group.
 With Lasith Malinga coming back in the squad it will be a massive boost for the island nation. Surely, this will be the biggest positive for the inexperienced side as Malinga also brings in tons of experience. Added to that Malinga has the experience of captaincy. With a bowling average of 27.77 and a strike rate of 31.64, he will the one to watch out for. His experience will also be a key during the high-pressure games.
While the young Sri Lankan side may play with a nothing-to-lose attitude this may also go against them. Chances of succumbing to the pressure remain high. Furthermore, the batting, which looks vulnerable, could be exposed against a quality bowling attack in English conditions.
Predicted playing XI- Kusal Perera, Upul Tharanga, Kusal Mendis, Dinesh Chandimal (wk), Angelo Mathews (capt), Asela Gunaratne, Thisara Perera, Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal
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India
The Defending champions will be raring to go under Kohli in his first ICC tournament as captain. They have good chances to defend their title to a record third ICC Champions Trophy.
The team is very well balanced with players in form. The experience that MS Dhoni brings to the team is very beneficial. He is the only captain to win all three ICC tournaments and can help Kohli in his captaincy. India will be hopeful of the pacers doing well in the Champions Trophy. Bhuvneshwar Kumar (26 wickets), Jasprit Bumrah (20 wickets) and Umesh Yadav (17 wickets) did exceptionally well for their respective teams with the ball.
A major cause of concern for India will be the fitness of star bowling duo Ravichandran Ashwin and Mohammed Shami. While Ashwin missed the entire IPL due to an injury, Shami played 8 matches for Delhi Daredevils but his form was less than impressive. Ashwin remains crucial for India's title defence but he hasn't bowled a single delivery in a competitive match since the Dharamsala Test between India and Australia in March. On paper, India possess one of the most explosive batting line-ups in the world, if not the best. But the Indian batsmen looked spectacularly out of form in the IPL, which could prove to be the team's Achilles heel in the Champions Trophy. Apart from Shikhar Dhawan, the likes of Rohit Sharma (333 runs), Ajinkya Rahane (382 runs), MS Dhoni (290 runs) and Yuvraj Singh (252 runs) had underwhelming campaigns for their respective teams.
Predicted XI- Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli(capt), MS Dhoni(wk), Yuvraj Singh, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichnadran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah
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Pakistan
Pakistan enter the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy as underdogs, based on their middling ODI fortunes since the 2015 World Cup and always fluctuating performances of key players. They barely made the cut for the tournament, ranked eighth ahead of West Indies, and as their skipper Sarfraz Ahmed put it, his team has "nothing to lose".
Pakistan's middle-order is marshalled by the likes of Shoaib Malik and Mohammed Hafeez who have been in good nick recently. While Hafeez (201 runs in 3 matches) finished as the leading run-scorer in the ODI series against West Indies recently, Malik was the second highest run-getter with 163 runs in 3 matches. Pakistan's pace duo of Mohammad Amir and Hasan Ali have been sensational form over the past few months in limited overs format of the game. Since making his debut for Pakistan, Ali has scalped 29 wickets in just 16 matches. While as for Amir, since making a return from his ban, he has picked up 25 wickets in 17 ODI for Pakistan.
Wahab Riaz and Junaid Khan are two of the most experienced bowlers in the Pakistan squad and they are familiar with the conditions in England. However, their respective form over the past year or so hasn't been upto the mark and remains a cause of concern for the team. Pakistan have named a young squad for the tournament and while it could be a masterstroke as youngsters play without fear, the decision to do so can also backfire spectacularly. The likes of Shahdab Khan (3 ODIs), Fakhar Zaman (0 ODIs) and Fahim Ashraf (uncapped) have played a combined total of just three ODIs.
Predicted playing XI- Azhar Ali, Ahmed Shehzad, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed (capt/wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.
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This edition is set to be one of the most exciting editions yet as all teams are playing good cricket and are in terrific form. All the matches promise to be real exciting games of cricket. The favorites are India, England and Australia but with the brand of cricket other teams playing, like Bangladesh and Pakistan, they can very well cause upsets. These 18 days promise to be few of the best 18 days in the life of a cricket enthusiast. 

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