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ICC Champions Trophy 2017: A look at all the 8 teams

Defending champions India are the hot favorites to make it to the semifinals from Group B, which also includes Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.
A file image of India captain Virat Kohli. -... Source: BCCI TWITTER
AP London May 30, 2017 14:58 IST

South Africa and England are the perennial underachievers in one-day international cricket, mixing high hopes with high-profile failures in the big tournaments. They will have to cope with the favorites' tag at the eight-team Champions Trophy starting on Thursday.

The South Africans are the top-ranked ODI team, with the top-ranked batsman (AB de Villiers) and the top-ranked bowler (Imran Tahir). That should install the Proteas as the outright favorites but it's been a long and painful trophy drought since winning their only piece of ICC silverware at the inaugural Champions Trophy in 1998: Four semifinal defeats in the Champions Trophy to go alongside four semifinal losses in the Cricket World Cups.

The English, playing at home and with a new-found enthusiasm for the one-day format under coach Trevor Bayliss, are many people's tips. Yet they have never won an ICC trophy, having been a runner-up three times at the World Cup and lost finals on home soil in the Champions Trophy in 2004 and 2013.

Still, it would be a surprise if the two teams didn't qualify for the semifinals in what should be a competitive tournament played under heightened security after last week's bomb attack in Manchester, and being held across three locations from June 1-18: The Oval in London; Edgbaston in Birmingham; and Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, Wales.

India and Australia - ranked Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, and teams that regularly deliver on the big stage - are the other likely semifinalists.

Here's a look at all the eight teams in the tournament:

SOUTH AFRICA

ODI RANKING: 1

BEST RESULT: Champion 1998

LAST TIME: Semifinals

SQUAD: AB de Villiers (captain), Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Keshav Maharaj, Dwaine Pretorius, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel

COACH: Russell Domingo

Eye-catching series victories over India (away), England, New Zealand (twice), and 5-0 whitewashes of Australia and Sri Lanka in the last two years have lifted South Africa to No. 1.

Unbeaten in a bilateral ODI series since July 2015 until losing to England 2-1 in the Champions Trophy warmups, the South Africans have the top-ranked batsman in AB de Villiers and the top-ranked bowler in legspinner Imran Tahir. On paper, they should be the favorites but they famously fail to deliver at the big ODI tournaments.

The Champions Trophy is the one the South Africans have won, claiming the inaugural title in 1998.

Once again, with the pressure on, they have to prove they have the mental strength to go with a lineup that is powerful in every department.

Opening batsmen Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla have forged a hugely effective partnership. Get one of them out and there's still de Villiers, Faf du Plessis, JP Duminy and David Miller to come.

Tahir has been in red-hot form, but Kagiso Rabada leads a pace attack that is always reliable, while there might even be a return from injury for Dale Steyn if he proves his fitness in time.

ODDS: 4-1

AUSTRALIA

ODI RANKING: 2

BEST RESULT: Champion 2006, 2009

LAST TIME: Group stage

SQUAD: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Pat Cummins, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, Adam Zampa

COACH: Darren Lehmann

After failing to win a game in their trophy defense in 2013, Australia intend to regain the championship by blasting all-comers.

The batting lineup is impressive, boasting David Warner, captain Steve Smith, Aaron Finch, and Glenn Maxwell. They're bolstered by the prolific Chris Lynn, who recovered in the Indian Premier League from another shoulder injury.

A powerful pace attack will be complete if Mitchell Starc can fire. Starc was picked with Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, and Pat Cummins. Injuries have limited their appearances together, and Starc is underdone after injuring his foot in the test series against India three months ago. His ability to seam the ball on English pitches is invaluable, and he couldn't bowl in the last warmup on Monday because of rain.

None of the squad was part of the 2006 and 2009 champions, but seven were involved in winning the 2015 World Cup, albeit at home.

Nearly two-thirds of the squad have been playing in the IPL, so they come match-fit to a point. But some who played in the India Test series may also be mentally tired entering a third straight big event.

For all of Australia's weapons, they are still not as intimidating as it was in the previous decade. In the past summer, Australia were swept aside in South Africa and New Zealand, the latter their first group opponent on Friday.

ODDS: 3-1

INDIA

ODI RANKING: 3

BEST RESULT: Champion 2002, 2013

LAST TIME: Champion

SQUAD: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Dinesh Karthik

COACH: Anil Kumble

When India ended a two-week delay and revealed their squad, they banked on experienced 50-over format players to defend the trophy rather than going on the form of aspirant cricketers from their glamorous Twenty20 premier league.

Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Dinesh Karthik all were part of the 2013 winning squad.

"We respect the IPL, but when it comes to the longer formats and when it comes to the English conditions we have looked at performances over the last year," chief selector MSK Prasad said. "And the experience. Experience is of paramount importance."

India beefed up their middle-order batting by recalling Yuvraj Singh, who last played in the tournament in 2006.

Dhawan, the left-handed opening batsman, was player of the 2013 championship, also held in England, and in Kumar and Bumrah, India's fast bowling looks as lethal as any other team's.

Virat Kohli had a reasonable IPL with the bat but couldn't prevent his side finishing last. He captains India in his first major ICC event, and is fortunate to have beside him the great Dhoni, the calm and calculated wicketkeeper-batstman, who can seemingly win any game on his own and from any tough situation.

India are the hot favorites to make it to the semifinals from Group B, which also includes Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and South Africa.

ODDS: 9-2

NEW ZEALAND

ODI RANKING: 4

BEST RESULT: Champion 2000

LAST TIME: Group stage

SQUAD: Kane Williamson (captain), Martin Guptill, Tom Latham, Luke Ronchi, Ross Taylor, Neil Broom, Jimmy Neesham, Corey Anderson, Mitch Santner, Colin de Grandhomme, Jeetan Patel, Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Mitchell McClenaghan, Trent Boult

COACH: Mike Hesson

If New Zealand gets their lineup right, they could win the Champions Trophy, 17 years after their one and only major success.

New Zealand were a World Cup finalist in 2015, and a World Twenty20 semifinalist in 2016, and have developed a thick skin, like captain Kane Williamson.

The only question marks surround Martin Guptill's opening partner, and which allrounders to leave out in the middle order.

Tom Latham lost his opening batsman-wicketkeeper position during the home series against South Africa in February after a run of six single-figure scores. He came right in the recent tri-series in Ireland, scoring a century and two half-centuries. Meanwhile, Luke Ronchi kept wicket in the tri-series, then opened with Guptill against India at the weekend in a warm-up and scored a 63-ball 66.

Presuming New Zealand accommodate Latham and Ronchi and fit-again fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan, then there's two middle-order berths and four allrounders to pick, from Colin de Grandhomme, Jimmy Neesham, Mitchell Santner, and Corey Anderson.

De Grandhomme, coming off the IPL, hasn't scored more than 32 or taken more than two wickets in a match since he returned to the ODI side in December. Neesham has batted well this year with 274 runs at an average of 34.25, but taken only four wickets.

Santner has been the opposite, spinning out 18 wickets in 11 matches, but scoring only 113 runs. Anderson hasn't scored more than 35 or taken two wickets in a match since the 2015 World Cup semifinals.

Guptill and Ross Taylor are the only survivors from the team which reached the 2009 final, and are among seven from the 2013 side.

ODDS: 9-1

ENGLAND

ODI RANKING: 5

BEST RESULT: Final 2004, 2013

LAST TIME: Final

SQUAD: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Jake Ball, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.

COACH: Trevor Bayliss

Test cricket used to be king in England.

It still might be, in the eyes of the fans and traditionalists, but England coach Trevor Bayliss - in charge since June 2015 - has ensured the shorter formats now get as much attention as the five-day game.

"We turn our back on ODI cricket too much," Andrew Strauss, the director of England's national team, said in appointing Bayliss, "not because it isn't important, but because we aren't very good at it."

That's not the case anymore. England have a vibrant, dynamic side with genuine world-class players in Joe Root, Jos Buttler, and Ben Stokes, a deep and threatening batting lineup that has the luxury of Moeen Ali potentially at No. 7, and a balanced bowling attack.

Playing at home and in conditions that suit them, the English will be hard to beat in the Champions Trophy as they go in search of their first ICC 50-over trophy.

The turnaround since England were eliminated embarrassingly in the group stage of the 2015 Cricket World Cup has been stunning. The players have freedom to be positive and aggressive, the mindset is attacking, and the hierarchy wants the team to be entertaining. There is no longer the fear of making mistakes.

The English just have to handle the pressure, which is easier said than done. This is the third time they have hosted the Champions Trophy - after 2004 and 2013 - and they have reached the final both times, only to lose to West Indies in fading light and then to India in a rain-affected match reduced to 20 overs per side.

ODDS: 5-2

BANGLADESH

ODI RANKING: 6

BEST RESULT: Group stage 2002, 2004

LAST TIME: Did not qualify

SQUAD: Mashrafe Mortaza (captain), Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Imrul Kayes, Mushfiqur Rahim, Shakib Al Hasan, Sabbir Rahman, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mustafizur Rahman, Rubel Hossain, Taskin Ahmed, Sunzamul Islam, Mehedi Hasan, Shafiul Islam

COACH: Chandika Hathurusingha

Bangladesh aren't tipped to win the Champions Trophy but they have the ability to spoil the party of the three other teams in Group A: Australia, England, and New Zealand.

Bangladesh last played in the Champions Trophy in 2006, but their rapid rise in ODIs earned it direct qualification.

Since the 2015 World Cup in Australia, where Bangladesh were knocked out in the quarterfinals, they have won four home ODI series against Pakistan, India, South Africa, and Afghanistan.

They have played just two series outside home, losing to New Zealand 3-0 and drawing in Sri Lanka 1-1.

"We have the opportunity to demonstrate how good our ODI skills are," selector Habibul Bashar said.

Captain Mashrafe Mortaza and allrounder Shakib Al Hasan are the only survivors from 2006, but excitement is also expected from wicketkeeper-batsman Mushfiqur Rahim, opening batsman Tamim Iqbal, and middle-order batsman Mahmudullah, whose offspin bowling could also come in handy.

Fast bowler Shafiul Islam has been recalled to back up left-armer Mustafizur Rahman, who has the ability to exploit the seaming conditions in England.

ODDS: 40-1

SRI LANKA

ODI RANKING: 7

BEST RESULT: Champion 2002

LAST TIME: Semifinals

SQUAD: Angelo Mathews (captain), Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Pradeep, Upul Tharanga, Asela Gunaratne, Nuwan Kulasekera, Niroshan Dickwella, Dinesh Chandimal, Thisara Perera, Kusal Perera, Lasith Malinga, Lakshan Sandakan, Kusal Mendis, Suranga Lakmal, Seekkuge Prasanna

COACH: Graham Ford

Sri Lanka have been bolstered by the return of fit-again captain Angelo Mathews and tearaway fast bowler Lasith Malinga.

Beside them, batsmen Dinesh Chandimal and Kusal Perera, fast bowler Nuwan Kulasekera, and allrounder Thisara Perera are the other survivors from Sri Lanka's 2013 squad, which reached the semifinals.

Former South Africa fast bowler Alan Donald has been roped in as bowling coach specifically for the Champions Trophy, and he has high expectations of the team against fellow subcontinent rivals Pakistan and India in Group B.

"I know I've got a very short stint to try and make an impact," Donald said. "The conditions will be very very challenging, especially in the start of June, but that's all part and parcel of unpacking the final product."

The final product is built on faith. Mathews and Malinga have been playing in the Indian Premier League since recovering from hamstring and knee injuries respectively. Middle-order batsman Chamara Kapugedara's last ODI was 18 months ago.

The top order should be OK with Upul Tharanga, who led Sri Lanka in the absence of the injured Mathews, Niroshan Dickwella and Asela Gunaratne.

But they start against top-ranked South Africa, who beat them 5-0 this year.

ODDS: 28-1

PAKISTAN

ODI RANKING: 8

BEST RESULT: Semifinals 2000, 2004, 2009

LAST TIME: Group stage

SQUAD: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Hafeez, Fakhar Zaman, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Hasan Ali, Wahab Riaz, Faheem Ashraf

COACH: Mickey Arthur

Pakistan, the three-time semifinalist, need to change the conservative approach of their batsmen to have any chance of advancing from the group stage.

The batting has let down the ODI team over the last two years. The slide began under Azhar Ali's captaincy when Bangladesh whitewashed Pakistan 3-0 in 2015 then England, New Zealand, and Australia exposed the fragile lineup.

Ali stepped down from the captaincy after Australia won 4-1 this year, and he was not included in the recent series in the West Indies. Often criticized for batting too slow in the top order, Ali has nevertheless been recalled for the Champions Trophy.

New captain Sarfraz Ahmed, one of nine players making their Champions Trophy debut, has to marshall his work-in-progress side against defending champion India, top-ranked South Africa, and Sri Lanka in Group B.

At least the bowlers look good, with the likes of fast bowlers Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz, and new legspin sensation Shadab Khan.

Shoaib Malik, who scored a century against the West Indies, is making his sixth Champions Trophy appearance, and Mohammad Hafeez his third.

ODDS: 14-1

 

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