And then there were four. The 2017 edition of the Champions Trophy has been exciting and surprising to say the least. Who would have predicted Bangladesh making it to the semi-finals? (apart from Ravichandran Ashwin of course). We analyse the four teams and predict who will make it to the finals:
Yes, Bangladesh did get very lucky to make it to the semi-final stages. They were sure of losing against Australia before the rain intervened but they really took their chance well against New Zealand. Anybody who still thinks that Bangladesh are minnows need to take a long, hard look in the mirror. They have managed to emerge as a serious limited overs playing nation and will look to go hard in the semis against India.
Tamim Iqbal has been in splendid form up the order while he has received more than ample support from the likes of the superb Mahmudullah and the mercurial Shakib Al-Hasan. The bowlers for Bangladesh are their weak point and despite the presence of Rubel Hossain and Mustafizur Rahman, they will have to dig deep to bowl out the Indian squad.
India roared back after their dismal bowling performance against Sri Lanka to show that they have the mettle to win the tournament. It looks like they really wanted the win versus the South Africans and were excellent in all departments – fielding, bowling and batting. They will be looking to beat the Bangladeshis and a loss would be inexcusable at this juncture.
Shikhar Dhawan has regained that brilliant old touch that made him dangerous in the first place and Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been excellent too up the order. The middle-order too has contributed when called upon and the batting is the area of least concern. They will be bolstered by Ashwin’s return to form. The bowling attack will look to continue the good work from the South African game and bowl out the Bangladeshis.
The English team has predictably made it to the semis thanks to their extremely strong all-round team. Batsmen such as Hales, Root and Morgan have all made vital contributions for the team up the order and have set the tone for the rest of the game to follow. Also, their advantage of home conditions has played a part as they have negotiated certain overs with a good amount of expertise.
Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid and Ben Stokes have also been amongst the wickets and can change the shape of a match with a few overs. They have a strong enough lineup to go all the way and will be looking at doing so.
Pakistan made it to the semis by the skin of their teeth thanks to some poor fielding by Sri Lanka in their crunch group encounter. They now have a bigger challenge to face England and to try beating them. However, if their top-order decides to play responsibly, they have a good chance of pulling off an unlikely win.
Babar Azam, Azhar Ali and Sarfaraz can be game-changers on their day and the bowling attack of Amir and Junaid Khan can make the ball move around in good conditions.
India versus England is the one you should place your bets on but this has been a tournament where the most unlikeliest of outcomes has been the norm.
By Rohit Nair