May 28, 2017

Likely to be India, England, Australia and South Africa in the semis

The Champions Trophy is set to be an exciting and competitive 50-over tournament

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A quick lowdown

The original concept for the Champions Trophy, apart from wanting to raise funds for the ICC, was to hold a prestigious 50-over tournament. The 2017 version has all the makings of exactly that with four really powerful teams and the other four capable of causing an upset.

Hovering over the tournament is an edginess created by the recent tragedy in Manchester. This diabolical act will have an effect on both players and fans.

The English are renowned for their stoicism in times of adversity and this trait will be fully tested under the circumstances. Some players will cope better than others, but the ones who will fare the best are those who can overcome any anxieties and maintain their focus on cricket while they are out on the field.

The four really strong squads are hosts England, defending champions India and perennial competitors Australia and South Africa.

The Australians are currently embroiled in a divisive pay dispute with their board, but the altercation has only served to unite the players. The sense that this dispute will further galvanise the Australian team was reinforced by skipper Steven Smith, when he indicated that winning the Champions Trophy would help the players in their negotiations with Cricket Australia.

Ever since hitting rock bottom with an early exit from the 2015 World Cup, England's 50-over cricket has been on an upward trend. They appear to be peaking perfectly for this tournament, but they will need to ensure they don't succumb to stage fright in front of an expectant home audience.

England look set to finally win a global 50-over tournament © Getty Images

England have never won a major one-day tournament, and with their powerful batting line-up and strong pace attack, this is a great opportunity to erase that glitch in their record. In the 2013 tournament, England lost to India in a rain-affected final, and in 2017, the Virat Kohli-led side will again be a major challenge for the hosts.

Kohli's men have turned up for this tournament with a glut of T20 games in the IPL. This may turn out to be good preparation, especially when followed by a couple of 50-over warm-up games to get the mind fully attuned to the longer version. T20 cricket ensures batsmen are looking for runs and, of late, bowlers have focused more on taking wickets - the ideal mindset for both facets of the one-day game.

India don't have the pace of the other three top bowling sides, but they do possess a well-balanced attack, capable of taking wickets in any conditions.

South Africa are the fourth powerhouse team and, even without the injured Dale Steyn, they possess a strong pace attack. They also have the wily legspinner Imran Tahir seeking wickets in the middle overs, which is a crucial part of playing 50-over cricket successfully.

The South African batting line-up is also powerful, but the team are yet to overcome the knockout-stage hoodoo that dogs them in tournaments. Despite assurances from skipper AB de Villiers in the 2015 World Cup that this was a thing of the past, they have done nothing to brush the monkey off their back.

South Africa are always contenders but their conservative mindset holds them back © Getty Images

An ingrained conservatism, especially surrounding their tactics in the field, has hurt South Africa in the past and they need to shed that approach to win this tournament.

While the winner will probably come from those four sides, none of the favourites can afford to take teams like Pakistan and New Zealand lightly.

As always, New Zealand are a solid outfit but they lack the powerhouse players of Australia and England, both of whom are in New Zealand's group.

Pakistan have the pace attack to worry India and South Africa in Group B, but their batting is brittle and lacks the firepower necessary to unsettle the top sides.

Both Sri Lanka and an improving Bangladesh will be competitive but they won't win enough matches to qualify for the knockout stage.

Throughout its history, the Champions Trophy has struggled to gain traction. However, a semi-final line-up of England, Australia, India and South Africa promises something we don't see often enough in 50 over cricket: a highly competitive and entertaining tournament.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a cricket commentator for Channel Nine, and a columnist

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Greg on June 1, 2017, 7:40 GMT

    Think you are missing one important team ... New Zealand ... and that's coming from a South African!

  •   Syed Raza Mohsin on May 30, 2017, 22:33 GMT

    He just picked the four strongest sides for the SF. How many times has that happened in a tournament ?

  • hamish on May 30, 2017, 22:20 GMT

    Why do you think NZ lacks the powerhouse players of the other favoured sides? Martin Guptill, Kane Williamson, Ross Taylor, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner would walk into any side in the world; they are a great fielding side and have the best variety of bowlers in the competition.

  •   Farhan Pansare on May 30, 2017, 21:29 GMT

    South Africa is a strong team. They have a great chance to get into Semifinal.

  • GANESSIN on May 30, 2017, 19:36 GMT

    I am skeptical about India moving to SF eventhough I am indian.

  • Anuj on May 30, 2017, 16:44 GMT

    Looks like Mr. Chappel underestimated India's pace attack there. Umesh Yadav is easily amongst the quickest in the world and Shami, Bhuvi, Pandya can all bowl 140+. In Bhuvi and Bumrah they have two very good death bowlers. IMO they are the third best attack behind Australia and SA and capable of outperforming them. They also have the best spin attack. Only thing keeping India from winning this trophy is bad team selection. As displayed in the last match, England's current team does not have solid batsmen but full of big-hitters. Since this is an ICC event the pitches should not be roads like England have made in bilateral series. Only Australia are an outright better team than India.

  • Nauman on May 30, 2017, 16:27 GMT

    Look at the current ODI rankings.While their overall accuracy is debatable,one can still extract a useful picture off it.The top 5 (SA,Aus,Ind,NZ,Eng) are all fairly close & hence very competitive & equally favorites going in the tournament.So please stop dismissing NZ like this (NZ actually outwitted Ind with spin in last T20 WC).I think its the "Australian" in Chappell that can't accept that current NZ team can compete with big boys.The bottom 3 (BD,SL,Pak) are very close & actually on par with each other given English conditions.They should just look to stay competitive & cause an upset against the top 5.BD already lost a close warm-up to Pak & India thrashed them by 240 runs.SL were upset by Scotland recently & seem to be losing their warmup vs NZ despite posting 350+.While warm-ups are meaningless,they still prove my point that SL,Pak & BD can compete with each other wherease Ind & NZ are among elite.

  • Hosain on May 30, 2017, 14:18 GMT

    Ian Chappel's drew a distinct line about the results of Champions Trophy and and ruled that the Nz-Pk-Sk-Bd quartet would not make it to the semifinal. Mr. Chappel appears to be in a state of denial to accept the reality and his articles often attest to two phenomena: the chutzpah of white cricket establishment and the guilty conscience of white cricket commentators. So it is hard for him to accept the truth that one of the bottom four can administer a good dose of drubbing to his favorite Ind-Aus-Eng-SA quartet . The probability of Mr. Chappel finding one of the bottom four in the semis and thereby eating his own words is more than 50 percent. The battle cry for the Bangladesh should be, "Make Chappel eat his own words." The problem is his distorted perception about the rising cricketing nations and he would not give them the credits due.

  • Neil on May 30, 2017, 13:26 GMT

    "An ingrained conservatism, especially surrounding their tactics in the field, has hurt South Africa in the past" - that is a superb way of putting it; it also applies to their tactics around declarations in test matches. South Africa have always seemed to play to avoid losing, rather than to win. In ODIs, of course, "not losing" and "winning" are essentially the same thing in terms of the overall match result, but even so it often feels like South African captains would rather suffer a narrow loss than take a risk that might get them a win, but might also result in a bigger loss. There's a kind of "moral victory" you can take out of a game if you at least run your opponents close, and it's almost as though hanging on to THAT is more important than getting the actual win.

  •   Saud Umar Khan on May 30, 2017, 11:02 GMT

    the beauty of this tournament is that any team can upset the other. WI will be sorely missed but i guess the internal conflict is harming them more than anything. PAK need to up their game for a SF spot. BAN SL can never be ruled out, AUS IND lead the way with ENG NZ SA close behind.

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