Preview - ICC Champions Trophy 2017 - Australia.

Just like the ICC Cricket World Cups, Australia, the current World Champions, are leading the way in the ICC Champions Trophy as well. As of now, they have won two titles (in 2006 & 2009). Even India has won the same number of titles, but they had shared the title in 2002 with Sri Lanka. Australia might not be the team it was once known for, but some individual heavyweights still have it in them to win the trophy for their nation.
The selectors have chosen a 15-man squad which comprises of some swashbuckling batsmen, value for money fast-bowling all-rounders and a brigade of high-speed bowlers. The squad has been named after taking into consideration the combo of modern-day limited overs cricket and the English conditions.

Expected Playing Eleven

1) David Warner 2) Aaron Finch 3) Steven Smith (c) 4) Travis Head 5) Glenn Maxwell 6) Marcus Stoinis 7) Matthew Wade (wk) 8) Mitchell Starc 9) Pat Cummins 10) John Hastings 11) Josh Hazlewood

Specification

David Warner and Aaron Finch form a formidable opening pair. The duo can take on any bowling attack and that too for an extended period of time. Respective ODI strike rates of 96.85 and 88.96 pose enough threat in the eyes of bowlers all over the world. Warner is coming on the back of 641 runs at an average of 58.27 and a strike rate of 141.81 in the Indian Premier League.
Steven Smith, the leader of the pack, will also take field in the Australian colours on the back of a strong run in the IPL, which includes success, both as a batsman and as a captain. The format of the IPL and the conditions in which it is played definitely varies from the what will be on offer in England but runs are runs, no matter where and whichever format they come in.

Smith and Warner will hold the key for Australia.

23-year old Travis Head has showed signs of brilliance in his short career so far. In what will be his major ICC tournament, he would be looking to make a mark at the highest level. A middle order comprising of Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis and Matthew Wade add more power and stability to the Aussie batting order. Someone of Maxwell's calibre needs no introduction. Stoinis' 146* (117) against New Zealand earlier this year should give him the go ahead of Moises Henriques. The advantage with Head, Maxwell and Stoinis in the playing eleven would be their three-dimensional game. Wade is another of those batsman who can play the waiting game, if required, and then take on the bowlers in the death overs.
Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, who are currently No. 2 and No. 6 in the ICC ODI rankings respectively, are likely to take the new ball for Australia. The pair has already made a mark at the highest level. Smith will rely heavily on them in the search of early wickets. Pat Cummins and John Hastings will complete the bowling attack and the quartet of fast bowlers. Not getting a place in the starting eleven might look a bit harsh on Adam Zampa, but Head and Maxwell can bowl a decent brand of off-breaks and can compensate for the spinner's absence in the team.

Bench Strength

James Pattinson is likely to accompany Zampa on the bench in the first contest. Pattinson, 27, has not played an ODI since the past 20 months and the management would be in no hurry to rush things on the speedster. Henriques is the most like for like replacement for Stoinis and might get a game, if required. Chris Lynn has proved his mettle in the T20 leagues around the world. It his time for him to shift the momentum in international cricket. He would not want to give away any opportunity which comes his way.

Inaugural match

02/06/2017 (Friday) - Australia vs New Zealand at Edgbaston, Birmingham.

Photo Credits - ESPN cricinfo.

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