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Champions Trophy 2017 Preview

01 June 2017

Eoin Morgan

Pat Cummins leads Thunder representatives in the UK to lift the Champions Trophy.

Australia and India are the two favourites for the tournament which India won four years ago in Birmingham. The tournament kicks off tonight with hosts England taking on Bangladesh.

>>READ: Pat Cummins – The Best Places I’ve Been in 2017

Australia

Previous: Winners (2006, 2009)

One of the strongest squads in the tournament, Australia will be able to call on some of the biggest hitters in the world with former Thunder opener David Warner and the Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn looking to put on big scores while they will be able to call on a packed fast bowling options with Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc.

One To Watch: Pat Cummins (like we’d say anyone else)

The Thunder man is back to full fitness, picking up the Mike Hussey Medal during BBL06 he then went on to return to the Australian Test scene while also become a firm fixture in the Delhi Daredevils.

Previous: Winners (2006, 2009)

Bangladesh

Previous: Group Stage (2002, 2004)

Coached by former Thunder Head Coach Chandika Hathurusingh, members of the Thunder Nation would have seen many of the Bangladesh team when a BCB XI played Sydney Thunder at Spotless Stadium ahead of BBL06. They made 340 in a warm up at Edgbaston, but where also bowled out for 84 by India just a few days later.

While they may not be predicted to reach the final stages of the tournament, they did manage to qualify for the Champions Trophy ahead of West Indies.

One To Watch: Shakib Al Hasan

There are few better all-rounders in world cricket. Al Hasan rarely goes a game without impressing.

England

Previous: Finalists (2004, 2013)

Captained by one of the Thunder Nation’s favourite players in Eoin Morgan, they posses four of the highest scoring ODI batsman in the past two years while no one has taken more wickets than AdilRasin in the same time. Thunder fans will also be no stranger of Sam Billings and Jason Roy, both who played for cross town rivals the Sixers last season, while Roy also had a spell with Thunder in BBL06.

One To Watch: Ben Stokes

After setting the IPL on fire, Stokes has emerged as one of the stars of white ball cricket and will be looking to cement his reputation on the world stage.

New Zealand

Previous: Winners, 2000

Defeat to Bangladesh in Ireland last month, despite the loss of their star players to the IPL will have many pundits writing them off, but the Kiwis will be optimistic that they have a balanced squad capable of qualifying for the later stages of the competition under captain Kane Williamson.

One To Watch: Tim Latham

New Zealand’s highest scoring batsman of the past twelve months will be looking to fire when they open their campaign against Australia on 2 June in Birmingham.

India

Previous: Winners (2013)

Virat Kohli’s team will be looking to defend the trophy they won when they beat England by 12 runs in 2013. With a squad of cricketing superstars and Kohli’s experience at chasing down large targets in both ODI and IPL cricket and have two of the most talented bowlers in their squad with Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya.

One To Watch: Hardik Pandya

After making a name for himself against England, the all rounder made an unbeaten 80 against Bangladesh in a warm up fixture a few days ago, after only making his ODI debut in October last year. The 23 year old who played for the Mimbai Indians during the IPL will be looking to get his tournament off to a strong start when India take on arch rivals Pakistan on Sunday.

Pakistan

Previous: Semi Finals (2000, 2004, 2009)

Beating the West Indies to qualify by just two points, they may be the eight best ODI side in the rankings but they will not be underestimated by their opponents with Shoaib Malik, a veteran of six Champions Trophies named amongst the squad. Like India, Pakistan will have excellent support from their fans in England and Wales.

One To Watch: Babar Azam

With five ODI centuries under his belt, the 22-year old will be a key player should Pakistan looking to go as far as previous Pakistan sides or even one further.

Sri Lanka

Previous: Joint Winners (2002)

Despite losing a high scoring warm up game to New Zealand, Sri Lanka impressed with the bat making 356-8 with Upal Tharanga making a century. Head Coach Graham Ford says “We have some of the best ball-strikers in world cricket. They can really take a bowling attack down.” Much will be asked of 29-yea old captain and all-rounder Angelo Matthews as he looks to take his teams Test form into white ball cricket.

One To Watch: Kusal Mendis

The 22-year old right hand bat has an ODI average of 36.73, with an ODI century against Bangladesh, he could be one of the surprise finds of the tournament.

South Africa

Previous: Winners (1998)

Ranked number one in ODI cricket and with arguably the best batsman in the world AB de Villiers captaining the side and the number one ranked ODI bowler Kagiso Rabada, South Africa will be a favourite to make it to the later stages of the competition. Recent victories over Australia and Sri Lanka, even without Ad de Villiers for their Australia series will give them confidence, although a reputation for inconsistent form at major tournaments will no doubt be at the back of their minds.

One To Watch: Kagiso Rabada

Perfectly suited to English conditions, further improved by a stint of county cricket last year. Rabada took 4 wickets at Lord’s in South Africa’s ODI victory against England last week, removing both openers to catches in the slips.

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