Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ICC Champions Trophy SemiFinals: England, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh take us back to 1947

For the first time in an ICC event we have witnessed this intriguing semifinal line up comprising England, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

The British ruled India for 89 years before partitioning British India into two independent countries: India and Pakistan in 1947.

While we are pondering over historical relevance, let us also take the liberty to derive an analogy to what happened in 1947.

England left, Bangladesh was non existent, and Pakistan got its way over India.

You see what I just did there?

I can truly feel it.

Let us take a look at what are the chances of the four teams.

India is one of the most successful teams in Champions Trophy history. This is the 5th time that they have made it to the Champions Trophy semifinal. Out of the previous 4 occasions, they managed to reach the final thrice. They lost the Final to New Zealand in 2000; shared the trophy with Sri Lanka in 2002, and beat England in the previous edition in 2013.

In Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, they have the best opening pair in ODI cricket at the moment, and probably of all time too. In a very short period of time, they have notched up 10 century opening partnerships, which is the 5th most by an opening pair in the history of ODI cricket.

Among the leading pairs, they have the third best average; and they are the only pair that puts on a century partnership on average every 6th inning.

In Virat Kohli, they undoubtedly have the best ODI batsman in the world. The ICC rankings confirm that fact. I truly believe he is the best ODI batsman the world has ever seen.

On top of all that they also have one of the best hitters in the game - Yuvraj - and the best finisher in the game - MS Dhoni.

Such a strong batting line up can chase any total thrown at them. 300, 350, 375 nothing will be enough for this team.

Bowling is their weaker suit, yet it is stronger than what it used to be historically. They may struggle defending totals, however I don't see Bangladesh going past this juggernaut.

This team has been all about resurgence. Forever the minnows of the Test Nations, Bangladesh finally find themselves competing with the big boys.

Since the World Cup 2015, they have won 17 of their 31 ODIs and lost only 11. They are currently going through their best period in ODIs.

This is the first time in cricket history that Bangladesh have reached the semifinal of an ICC tournament. It is a big achievement for them.

They were lucky to steal a point of Australia due to the rain, but they may have qualified anyway considering that all three - Australia, New Zealand, and Bangladesh - would have been on 2 points had rain stayed away. Who knows who would have qualified based on Net Run Rate, but Bangladesh can't be denied this moment.

Their chase against New Zealand was quite unbelievable given that it came with their backs against the wall at 12-3 and 33-4. It was a remarkable turnaround, just like their overall cricket competitiveness has been.

Tamim Iqbal is the third highest run scorer in the Champions Trophy, while Shakib is also among the top 10.

Their batting is their stronger suit, but it is their bowling that has improved in leaps and bounds. The young Mustafizur Rahman is among the best young pacers around currently; his guile along with the pace of Rubel Hossain and Taskin Ahmed is a potent combination.

Mustafizur has the second best strike rate in ODI cricket history among all bowlers that have taken at least 40 wickets.

Despite their resurgence, and rising stars like Tamim, Shakib, and Mustafizur, I just can't see them toppling the mighty Indians.

The pre-tournament favorites and hosts have their own resurgence story. England's turnaround in ODI cricket has been absolutely remarkable. Since being denied a place in the Quarterfinals of the World Cup 2015 by Bangladesh, England have truly transformed as an ODI unit and they are currently the best team in the format in my opinion.

Since that World Cup 2015, England have:

won more ODIs than any other team.
the best W:L ratio; only team with a W:L>2.
the highest batting average in ODIs.
the highest scoring rate in ODIs; only team with RPO>6.
scored the highest total in an ODI innings.

Their entire batting line up comprises attacking stroke makers. Each and every one of them bats aggressively and scores at an alarming pace. Joe Root is arguably one of the best batsman in international cricket currently, and Ben Stokes is not far behind.

Their bowling is also top notch; they have pace and swing in the form of Wood, Plunkett, and Ball; and they have the spin of Adil Rashid, who is the leading wicket taker in ODIs since World Cup 2015.

On the previous two occasions that the Champions Trophy was played in England, the host nation reached the final both times. In 2004 they were beaten by the West Indies; while in the previous edition in 2013 they were beaten by India.

England are the only team that has been unbeaten so far in this tournament. This will be their fourth Champions Trophy semifinal and it will take a gargantuan effort to derail this juggernaut.

What does one say about Pakistan that has not been said already. Unpredictable, mercurial, disjointed, temperamental, are adjectives that have been commonly used to describe this team. Their Champions Trophy campaign so far can also be described using the same adjectives.

For most it is a bigger surprise to see Pakistan in the semifinals than it is to see Bangladesh.

They are the lowest ranked team in this Champions Trophy.
Their batsmen play like it is the 1980s.
They have one of the worst W:L ratio since World Cup 2015.
They have the lowest run rate in first 10 overs of ODIs.

Pakistan's lack of ability to play modern day cricket is well documented and one can't really read into the historical performance of a team that blows hot and cold as frequently as Pakistan does.

While they were atrocious against India, they put up a clinical performance against South Africa. In the must-win game against Sri Lanka, they showed why all those adjectives are used for them. They went from good to bad to excellent to bad to good in that one game.

This will be Pakistan's fourth Champions Trophy semifinal; twice they have been denied a place in the final by New Zealand and once by West Indies.

It is really anybody's guess as to what is in store for them this time around. They will have to play completely out of their skin to beat the hosts who are also the tournament favorites.

But they can take some inspiration from the match 10 months ago that took place at the same venue as their semifinal where they successfully chased 302 against England with 10 deliveries to spare.

However, if they are to compete against England they will need a change in personnel and a complete turnaround of intent.

It is going to be tough. Very tough. But I can feel it.

I have a very strong feeling that it will be a final to die for where PAKISTAN will take on INDIA for the first time ever in a final of an ICC ODI tournament.

Make your pitch on this post...

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

0 Pitched:

Post a Comment