The ICC Champions Trophy Predictions

By Bookmakers Review29 May 2017
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The ICC Champions Trophy Predictions

The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy is a one-day International (ODI) tournament scheduled to be held in England and Wales between June 1st and 18th June 2017. This will be the 8th edition of the tournament. The top eight teams in the ICC ODI rankings as on 30 September 2015 qualified for the tournament. The eight teams were divided into two groups of four.

Bangladesh replaced the West Indies who finished outside the top eight in ninth position, in the ICC ODI Team Rankings on the cut-off date. Bangladesh returns to the competition for the first time since 2006, and for the first time, the West Indies lost their place in the Champions Trophy.

The two groups of four are as follows:

 

Group A

Australia

Bangladesh

England

New Zealand

 

Group B

India

Pakistan

South Africa

Sri Lanka

 

Each team, from 15 man squads, plays three games and the top two teams from each group progress to the semi-finals. Matches are played in London at the Oval, Cardiff, and Edgbaston.

The ICC Champions Trophy tends to get lost in the cricketing calendar as an understudy to the World Cup. Regulation changes have made the 50 over game higher scoring and the format has moved towards T20 rather than as a short form of the longer game as previously. Nowadays a side that reaches over 30-32 with less than three wickets down will have a rule of thumb that it should double its score in the last 18 overs of an innings. Big runs, close games, and few dead rubbers because of the short tournament all highlight its attraction with six of the sides having a realistic chance of winning.

 

South Africa (ICC ODI Rank 1)

South Africa are ranked No.1 in the world and have won their last four series. They have a solid top six. Hashim Amla came back to form in the IPL in which he scored two centuries. AB De Villiers was in poor form in the IPL with 216 runs from nine matches but is one of the best players in this format. Quinton de Kock and JP Duminy return from injury while Faf du Plessis' only batted once in two games in the IPL and David Miller's top score was 30 in five matches so this vaunted top six has something to prove.

In the bowling department, South Africa have packed four all-rounders into the squad to accompany the two frontline quicks, Morkel and Rabada, and they have two specialist spinners for variety. The loss of a number of players to Kolpak contracts has reduced their strength in depth beyond the first XI though

De Kock and Rabada, in particular, are developing into world class cricketers and could be amongst the stars of the English summer with a Test tour to follow the champions trophy.

 

Australia (ICC ODI Rank 2)

The world champions come into the tournament as one of the front-runners. They have a good combination of experience blended with youth. Steven Smith, David Warner, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood are those players at or near their peak and barring Warner, all of these players are under 30. Whilst the batting has over-relied on Warner and Smith the presence of Chris Lynn, a huge hit in the shorter format in the last year, provides an x-factor but it is the fierce fast bowling quartet in early season English conditions that should give them a good shot.

One caveat, coach Darren Lehmann believes the ongoing pay dispute between Australia's cricketing authorities and the players "will be a distraction".

 

India (ICC ODI Rank 3)

India were the last nation to name their 15-man squad and will be the last team to arrive in England after the completion of the IPL giving the side10 days to acclimatize to very different conditions and getting confidence early is crucial as they struggled on their last tour here against the moving ball, Kohli notably.

Obviously, a hugely talented and very experienced side, look out for the emerging fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah who was one of the stars of the IPL.

 

New Zealand (ICC ODI Rank 4)

New Zealand’s preparation looks ideal: a tri-series against Bangladesh and Ireland in Ireland mimics English conditions to a tee.

A resolutely unfashionable side to laymen, they are led by Kane Williamson, one of the best batsmen in the world in all formats. Corey Anderson, on his day, is one of the best limited-overs all-rounders in the world and the bowling attack is extremely competitive especially if the white Kookaburra ball swings. Trent Boult was the equal leading wicket-taker in the 2015 Cricket World Cup.

New Zealand are a well-drilled one-day team and should be a real handful.

 

England (ICC ODI Rank 5)

For England, there is a far more modern and aggressive approach in this format, a now settled side and they have one of the deepest and most powerful batting line-ups in world cricket with Roy, Hales, Root, Morgan, Buttler and Bairstow complemented by all-rounders like Stokes, Ali and Woakes. At the time of writing, they have won their seventh ODI in succession

Of course, this series is being played in early season English conditions and good swing suiting bowlers like Willey and Woakes complemented by the likes of Wood, Plunkett, and Ball. England’s achilles heel has been restricting opposition on good batting pitches because of the absence of an “x-factor” bowler but that may not be a factor in England in May. In any case, the format favours the batsmen so much nowadays that the onus is on England’s line up to hit big totals whether compiling or chasing a total

 

Sri Lanka (ICC ODI Rank 6)

Angelo Mathews' leads an inexperienced side with the notable exception of Lasith Malinga who is set to play his first ODI since November 2015. Kusal Mendis is Sri Lanka’s in-form batsman, the leading run-scorer in the three-match ODI series against Bangladesh in March where he scored his maiden ODI century. At only 22, Mendis toured England 12 months ago which should help offset the inexperience.

One of the outsiders of the eight teams, so many young players and reliance on a few key players will most probably count against them.

 

Bangladesh. (ICC ODI Rank 7)

Bangladesh are ahead of both the West Indies and Pakistan in the rankings and are well placed for 2019 World Cup qualification and are a dangerous side, more competitive than ever.

Shakib al Hasan is the No.1 all-rounder in Test, ODI, and T20 cricket, according to the rankings and is the focal point of this team. Mustafizur Rahman is a serious player and they have dangerous batsmen and workmanlike bowlers who obviously would be favoured by conditions other than England in June but still capable of producing results.

A good win over New Zealand in the Irish warm up games spoke to their ability as a dangerous wild card in the tournament.

 

Pakistan (ICC ODI Rank 8)

Pakistan lost an ODI series 4-1 in Australia in January then beat the West Idies 2-1 last month. The international retirements of veterans Misbah-ul-Haq and Younis Khan is the end of one era of Pakistan cricket Azhar Ali had been the ODI skipper but now the reins belong to enterprising wicketkeeper-batsman Sarfraz Ahmed. Pakistan can play with aggression, flare, and occasional brilliance but consistency is a problem. Likely to be “up” for the India group game above all others, but not likely to be at the business end of this tournament

Odds at best prices are:

England 11/4

Australia 3/1

South Africa 4/1

India 5/1

New Zealand 9/1

Pakistan 16/1

Sri Lanka 33/1

Bangladesh 50/1

 

Each way odds at some firms are 1/3 1, 2.

In a tournament where you can make a case for at least five of the eight participants, we find the two favourites in the same group at cramped odds. South Africa and India look to have a slightly easier route through to the semi-finals. However, neither are the value that New Zealand represents. It’s not unusual for New Zealand to represent value at this stage ahead of major cricket events and then outperform their odds as they did when runners up in the 2015 world cup (and semi-finals of the last T20 World Cup and final of the Champions Trophy two tournaments ago).

I give them a reasonable chance of getting through a short format group where variance can be higher than the longer format world cup. For example, weather may play a part or winning/losing an important toss. Beat one of the big two and they are in the hunt and at that stage are a one off game away from an each way return. As an alternative to the “big four” in the market, the value is clear.

 

New Zealand ICC Champions Trophy 9/1* each way Betfred or William Hilll 1/3 1.2