The Champions Trophy Deathrace
Three of the four favorites for the Champions Trophy are out in the first round itself. South Africa found themselves clinically outplayed, Sri Lanka’s lack of experience outside of home showed while India, already limping with injuries, stumbled in a crucial match and ultimately crashed out of the tournament.
New Zealand kept going despite injuries to key players and England surprised the opposition by actually competing. Pakistan played a calculated game and seized their opportunities while Australia played like the last 8 months never happened.
We will let sleeping dogs lie and have their effigies burnt (in India)/ performances reviewed (in saner parts of the world) and concentrate on your team for the semis.
Australia: Ponting has played with venom and vengeance. Hussey has supported him well and while Watson hasn’t scored any runs at the top, he has chipped in with wickets. Mitchell Johnson bailed them out against West Indies.
England: Andrew Strauss has been spot on with the captaincy and Collingwood has finally put in some effort. Owais Shah & Eoin Morgan have contributed in bursts while the bowlers Onions, Anderson & Broad have been a revelation in discipline.
New Zealand: Guptill & McCullum have taken up responsibility at the top of the batting order and that has seen New Zealand get those good starts. Vettori & Franklin have been vital with their all round contributions while Bond has reveled as opening bowler. Aaron Redmond’s inclusion in place of Jesse Ryder ought to strengthen their batting.
Pakistan: Mohammad Yousuf & Shoaib Malik have been solid in the middle while Umar Akmal & Misbah have been finishing the innings. The bowling is strong with the return of Asif to the existing line up of Aamer, Naved & Gul. Afridi & Ajmal have been economical & dangerous.
Considering that Australia recently thrashed England 6-1 and that Pakistan take on their favorite bunny side NZ in the semis, it looks like it’s gonna be an Australia vs Pakistan final. If they learnt anything from their last match, the Australians will not let down even when on top because it doesn’t take too much for the Pakistanis to go on a roll.