Cricket

Shortte’s ICC Champion’s Trophy Preview

On Thursday the first match of the 2017 Champion’s Trophy gets underway with host nation England taking on Bangladesh at the Oval.

It promises to be a highly entertaining tournament with most sides stacked full of explosive players.

England with home ground advantage are the $3.50 favourites with TABtouch to win the tournament with Australia on the second line of betting at $4, South Africa at $4.50, India $5.50, New Zealand at $10, Pakistan $19, Sri Lanka $34 and Bangladesh at $51.

From what we have seen in the warm up games the pitches have been very much batsman friendly and this appears to be a tournament where there will be some very big scores recorded. A par score of 300 plus is to be expected for most games on what I have seen in recent days.

My personal view is that Australia will win the tournament and I think the $4.00 on offer for them to do so is generous.

Here is my guide to the prospects of each team in the upcoming tournament.

AUSTRALIA

For the first time Australia’s pace battery of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood are all fit and in the same squad at the same time. That spells trouble for opposition batting lineups. Young leg-spinner Adam Zampa has shown himself to be a dangerous prospect and there are plenty of part-time options for Australia with the ball as back up. With the willow Australia shape up as an incredibly dynamic outfit with some of the best power hitters of the ball in the game today. David Warner, Steve Smith, Aaron Finch, Chris Lynn, Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell are all capable of making big scores quickly. If the selectors decide an all-rounder option is required both Moises Henriques and Marcus Stoinis can be used to good effect and keeper batsman Matthew Wade is well performed against the white ball. I think the Aussies have all bases covered and consider the $4 a great price.

ENGLAND

England may be at home but when the pressure goes right on I still want to see what sort of response they have. They were involved in a match against South Africa earlier in the week and were reduced to 6/20 before going on to post just 153. From a batting perspective it will be the experienced campaigners Morgan and Root who they will look to bat around to post winning scores. The performances of batters like Hales, Roy, Stokes and Buttler will have a big impact on how deep England go into this tournament.  Their bowling attack will be made up of Woakes, Willey, Wood, Stokes and Liam Plunkett while Adil Rashid, Moeen Ali and Joe Root will provide the spin options. England have been consistent performers in recent times and with their knowledge of the local conditions they are a threat. That said the $3.50 on offer I consider under the odds.

SOUTH AFRICA

South Africa are perennial under-achievers when it comes to taking out these sort of events. They have regularly been the best performing side in major tournaments up until when the finals commence. On paper they have a phenomenal batting line-up. Hashim Amla, Quinton deKock, AB de Villiers, Faf du Plesiss, David Miller and JP Duminy are all classy performers who can pile on the runs. From a bowling perspective Imran Tahir is a quality spin option and young paceman Kagiso Rabada is an emerging star of the game. Morne Morkell and Wade Parnell are also experienced operators at this level. So much is likely to come down to how well they handle the pressure once the finals arrive.

INDIA

India are the other major player in this tournament. Most of their players are coming off a heavy base of limited overs cricket with their domestic Indian Premier League tournament only recently being completed. English conditions probably aren’t going to suit them right down to the ground but they have some top end talent that can take games away from their opposition. None more so than their skipper Virat Kohli. The dashing right hander had a tough time of it against the Aussies in the Test Series a couple of months ago but his overall record shows that he never stays out of form for long. To assist him with the bat Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Ajinkya Rahane and Yuvraj Singh form the nucleus of a strong outfit. Indian attacks are generally heavily slanted towards the spinners playing a big part but India have a number of capable seamers in their squad such as Kumar, Yadav and Shami who can all play their part in English conditions. They are hitting this tournament with plenty of cricket under their belt and cannot be underestimated.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand may lack the depth that a few of the other sides have but their top players are capable of matching it with anyone in the world. Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor are exceptional batsmen but quite simply if they don’t get the bulk of the runs the black caps are left vulnerable. Corey Anderson provides a quality all round option who can pile on the runs at a good rate deep into an innings as well as provide some solid mid innings overs with the ball and the New Zealand seam duo of Trent Boult and Tim Southee are likely to enjoy the conditions. Mitch Santner is a young spinner on the rise who has proven himself a match winner in the right sort of conditions. The Black Caps can never be taken lightly and have the arsenal to expose some of the top sides if their big guns all fire. My issue with them is that they may leave too much on the plate for too few.

PAKISTAN

Pakistan remain one team in international cricket who are capable of causing almighty boilovers when the conditions are right. Their top five of Babar Azam, Azhar Ali, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik and Ahmed Shezhad are all proven international performers and with the ball they also provide a number of quality competitors. Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz are a talented trio that can all cause headaches for opposition batting lineups on their day. I’ve no doubt that Pakistan can cause an upset or two throughout the course of the tournament but showing the consistency throughout is the key to them being a legitimate contender – I’m not sure they can.

SRI LANKA

In recent times Sri Lanka have had to farewell three of the all-time greats of the game in their country in Kumar Sangakarra, Mahayla Jayawardene and Tilekeratne Dilshan. Put simply there is no replacing the trio. They were stars of the game and as a trio combined so many times to win dozens of games for Sri Lanka almost on their own at times. It takes time to rebuild teams when this sort of quality walks out the door and Sri Lanka are currently in that stage where they are sourcing the next best batting talent in their ranks. There is no doubting the quality of Angelo Matthews and in Lasith Malinga they have a genuine strike weapon with the ball but on large Sri Lanka are a shadow of the team they have been in recent years. I can’t see them playing a part.

BANGLADESH

Bangladesh Cricket has come a long way over the last decade. They have leapfrogged the West Indies and are in fact now ranked 6th in the ICC ODI standings. They are now a side that can compete at this level and win their share too. That said this tournament remains a huge challenge for them against the biggest names in world cricket today. Tamim Iqbal and Shakib Al-Hasan are names most Cricket fans would be familiar with that have proven quality players for Bangladesh while a watch must go on Mustafizar Rahman. Rahman has taken 31 wickets against the top 8 teams in world cricket in ODI’s since the 2015 World Cup at an average of just 18.41. They are on the improve but it would be an almighty surprise if they went deep into the tournament.


BET SUGGESTIONS
ICC Champions Trophy Winner Australia $4
Top Tournament Wicket Taker Mitchell Starc $9.50
Top Tournament Runscorer Steven Smith $11
Top English Runscorer Joe Root $3.50
Top New Zealand Runscorer Kayne Williamson $3
Top Australian Runscorer Steven Smith $3.60
Top Australian Wicket Taker Mitchell Starc $3.50
Top Bangladesh Wicket Taker Mustafizar Rahman $3.25

*Odds correct as at 3pm 31/05/2017

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