The mini-World Cup – ICC Champions Trophy – is back to enthral cricket enthusiasts across the globe starting June 1 in London.
The recently concluded 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) saw a fusion of international and local cricketing talent that thrilled the spectators to the fullest. A majority of the participating players got a great exposure in India and they would definitely look to carry the momentum to the Champions Trophy.
Among the eight participating nations, six captains (Virat Kohli, Steve Smith, Angelo Mathews, Eoin Morgan, AB de Villiers and Kane Williamson) featured in the cash-rich league, while Sarfraz Ahmed and Mashrafe Mortaza are coming directly from a Test series and the ongoing Tri-nation series respectively. thestatesman.com gives you a complete review of the leading men ahead of the mega-event.
Team India will enter the Champions Trophy as defending champions. The last edition in 2013 saw the men-in-blue lifting the title under the captaincy of MS Dhoni. This time, Dhoni will be leading from backfoot with Virat Kohli captaining the spirited side. Owing to an injury that he suffered during India-Australia bilateral series, the star skipper failed to post a strong impression in the IPL 2017. The 28-year-old batsman managed to score just 308 runs in 10 matches and Royal Challengers Bangalore finished the season placed last in the points table. Having played 14 ODI matches on grounds in England, Kohli has scored 424 runs with a ton so far.
Steve Smith will look to carry his captaincy mystic to the Champions Trophy. Under his leadership, Rising Pune Supergiant reached the final of the IPL 2017. Leading by example, Smith slammed 421 runs with a season-best knock of 84 runs (not out) and two half-centuries in the Indian league. The Australian batsman, who has scored 270 runs in 11 ODI matches in England, would look to improve his statistics on English pitches.
Placed alongside India, South Africa and Pakistan in the same group, Sri Lanka will be no less than underdogs, who would seek sheer miracle to outclass the best of ODI giants to enter the knock-out stage. Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews is coming from IPL, where he played just two matches for Delhi Daredevils. The 29-year-old all-rounder couldn’t claim a single wicket in two matches and managed to hit 32 runs. Having played 19 ODI matches in England, Mathews has done fairly well with the willow as he struck 620 runs at a batting average of 44.28. Mathews has taken eight wickets so far in England, a statistic that he would try to improve in the Champions Trophy.
England skipper Eoin Morgan will look to exploit home advantage to the maximum. His recent appearances on English soil witnessed the southpaw batsman scoring 76 and 10 runs in two ODI matches against Ireland. The 30-year-old batsman has smashed 2513 runs in 81 ODI matches with as many as three centuries. England are grouped with Bangladesh, New Zealand and Australia, and will play the opening match against minnows Bangladesh on June 1.
AB de Villiers
South African power hitter AB de Villiers desperately requires returning to his best form to maintain his stardom. Last 10 matches of De Villiers have been a roller coaster ride for the 33-year-old as he managed to score just 216 runs with three single-digit score appearances and a duck. In England, De Villiers hasn’t lived up to his reputation as he scored 363 runs in 14 ODIs at a batting average of 33.
Despite being a part of Sunrisers Hyderabad, who made a remarkable trail to the IPL playoffs, New Zealand captain Kane Williamson couldn’t impress Indian fans much with the willow. Williamson suffered a slump in his form during the IPL 2017 as after scoring strokeful 89 runs in season’s first match, he faltered and finished the edition with 256 runs from seven matches. Before IPL, Williamson was living best of his cricketing days as he scored 176 and 130 runs in two Test matches against South Africa. The 26-year-old batsman has been a sheer sensation on England grounds as he carries 571 runs with a century-knock in his kitty from just 11 ODI matches.
Pakistan are gearing up for the high-bet clash with the arch-rivals India to be held on June 4. Vigorous skipper Sarfraz Ahmed will look to start dreamlike in the tournament. He, however, will have to deal with other tough opponents as well besides Team India. Sarfraz’s current form shows him in good light as the 29-year-old struck three fifty-plus knocks in his last four matches. The wicketkeeper-batsman is coming from a three-match Test series against West Indies that Pakistan clinched by 2-1. Sarfraz’s appearances has been less but remarkable in England as he made swashbuckling 300 runs from five ODI matches.
Bangladesh skipper Mashrafe Mortaza is currently stretching his muscles in Ireland, where the Asian Tigers are battling it out against New Zealand and Ireland in a Tri-nation series. Mortaza has managed to bag three wickets in last two matches. However, Bangladesh are still due to win a single match in the ongoing series.