ICC_CT2017_Preview-2

 

England start as favorites for Champions Trophy 2017, thanks to their stellar form and excellent record in home conditions.

India, South Africa and New Zealand complete the four highest impact teams in Impact Index’s preview of the tournament where we have considered overall career numbers (of individual squads of 15 of all the teams), form, past performances in England and the overall experience (in terms of matches played).

New Zealand have been placed higher than Australia as their players enter the tournament in better form and cumulatively have a far superior record in England. Although Australia have the best bowling attack, they are the most inexperienced side entering the tournament and overall their form is the worst (courtesy their batting) amongst all teams barring Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

New Zealand, despite not being the best in any discipline, still manage to squeeze in amongst the top four – something they do so often that it has almost become a norm. Their recent form and record in England is rather impressive.

England have won 25 and lost 13 matches they have played since May 2015. This has included away series wins against Pakistan and Bangladesh. Batting is their strength and they boast of the highest impact batting unit in the tournament after South Africa and India.

India go into the tournament with the most experienced squad among all here and with the maximum number of big-match players, which should stand them in good stead in the semi-finals.

South Africa are by far the strongest batting unit entering the tournament. Their collective experience and big-match prowess is second only to India. Their concern is their poor record in England (and that little matter of not being able to absorb pressure well, which the world knows as “choking”; more on that in a bit).

There could be stiff competition for the second semi-final spot from Group A – by far the tougher group. New Zealand, Australia and Bangladesh all have the same overall impact entering the tournament.

Bangladesh has the second-best bowling unit (led by Mustafizur Rahman) entering the tournament and this gives them a high overall impact. They have got into the groove after winning five series (beating the likes of Pakistan, India and South Africa) and losing just one (to England in 2016 after giving them a fight) at home in the last couple of years. However, they have the weakest batting unit in the tournament after Sri Lanka and the overall performance of their squad in England is also the worst amongst all teams, which could be a significant factor if the conditions have any say at all.

Here is the table showcasing our predictions for overall positions:

Note: Three of our four projected semi-finalists made it to the semi-finals of the Champions Trophy in England in 2013, despite our tournament favourite being hopelessly off-colour (and very unlucky).  Our Dark Horse also qualified for the knockouts.

Teams Overall Impact Batting Impact Bowling Impact Runs Tally Impact Strike Rate Impact Pressure Impact Chasing Impact Wickets Tally Impact Economy Impact Failure Rate ( in %) Impact in England Form Impact (Since 2015)
England 100 81 87 91 83 86 100 87 76 34 100 100
India 95 88 92 99 57 100 82 100 100 34 39 85
South Africa 92 100 94 100 100 68 64 97 72 31 15 95
New Zealand 84 72 76 87 57 77 64 83 52 33 28 86
Australia 84 79 100 90 96 77 55 94 66 29 16 84
Bangladesh 84 58 97 76 43 55 18 98 66 34 6 88
Sri Lanka 71 56 75 72 30 55 36 76 22 37 22 69
Pakistan 71 77 79 94 43 73 64 88 38 29 20 70

Notes: 
1) All impact parameters (apart from failure rate) are expressed on a scale of 0 to 100, with the maximum (100) assigned to the highest impact team in that parameter. All other teams are scaled relative to that.
2) All numbers updated till 10th May, 2017.
3) Form Impact is determined by a player’s performances in the last 24 months in ODIs.
4) Same colour code indicates that the teams are playing in the same group.

Customary disclaimer: This is what would happen if all teams played to their full potential. Although the chances of that happening is lesser in a tournament like this where there are no safety nets.

 

1) Projected semi-finalists: England, India, South Africa and New Zealand
Unlike the last edition where three of the highest bowling impact units were projected in the top 4, this time three of the highest batting impact units are predicted to make it to the semi-finals.

2) Dark HorseAustralia
It may seem odd to call the current world champions dark horses here, but in English conditions, they have considerable issues. They have the highest impact bowling unit but have not been in exceptional form since their World Cup triumph at home in 2015. They have since lost 16 of their 42 matches and three series—two of which were clean sweeps. Their players have a dismal record in England and are the most inexperienced squad—in terms of ODIs played.

3) Team with strongest batting unit: South Africa
AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla are amongst the five highest impact batsmen in ODI cricket history. Quinton de Kock and Faf du Plessis make it a formidable top-order.

quinton de kok
Quinton de Kock: Already the third-highest impact batsman in South Africa’s ODI history after AB de Villiers and Hashim Amla.

4) Team with weakest batting unit: Sri Lanka
The fact that Angelo Mathews is their highest impact batsman in this format tells you a tale about their batting line-up.

5) Team with strongest bowling unit: Australia
Bowling attack led by Mitchell Starc—the third-highest impact ODI bowler of all-time after Dennis Lillee and Glenn McGrath and supported by Josh Hazlewood—the second-highest impact bowler after Kagiso Rabada in the last two years. Apart from Pat Cummins though, the rest of the pace battery have fared poorly in England previously. Also, the Australian bowling numbers are not the best, both in terms of wicket-taking ability and restricting the opposition batsmen. This means that the high frequency of series-defining performances delivered by their bowlers shoots up their overall Bowling Impact .

Josh Hazlewood: Has the best Economy Impact amongst all pacers in the world since World Cup 2015.

6) Team with weakest bowling unit: Sri Lanka
Nuwan Kulasekara and Lasith Malinga are their highest impact bowlers. The team will be dependent on them.

7) Team most likely to keep producing big totals: South Africa
Only Viv Richards and Gordon Greenidge have scored a higher proportion of runs over their careers than Hashim Amla whereas AB de Villiers is amongst the ten highest Strike Rate Impact batsmen in ODI history. Their ability to absorb pressure though is the lowest amongst the top four teams. Can this tell-tale and time-honoured susceptibility lead to a failure again? We had picked out this problem in the 2011 World Cup and it famously came to pass against New Zealand.

Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis: No batsman in the world has had a higher impact than him in wins since World Cup 2015.

8) Team with the best ability to absorb pressure (of falling wickets) while batting: India
Kedar Jadhav, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni are exceptional when it comes to absorbing pressure in the Indian line-up.

9) Strongest chasing teamEngland
Jonny Bairstow, Joe Root and Jason Roy are the most accomplished chasers in this England line-up. England also have the highest win/loss ratio amongst all chasing teams in the last two years in ODIs. Given his propensity to absorb pressure as well, Jonny Bairstow is a critical part of this team, and it may be foolhardy to leave him out. Making space for him in this current English line-up though is a task in itself.

Jos Buttler 1
Jos Buttler: The highest Strike Rate Impact batsman in England’s ODI history.

10) Weakest chasing teamBangladesh
Bangladesh’s Achilles Heel is their inability to chase. Teams against could consider batting first if they win the toss. Bangladesh have not chased down a single 220+ total in the last two years.

11) Team with the best ability to pick up wickets and restrict the opposition: India
Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami are phenomenal at picking up wickets. Both average almost two wickets per innings in ODIs. R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ravindra Jadeja are extremely restrictive bowlers in this format.

RAVINDRA JADEJA
Ravindra Jadeja: The highest impact bowler against England in ODI history. Can he be India’s match-winner in a potential knockout game against them?

12) Team with the worst ability to pick up wickets and restrict the opposition: Sri Lanka
All bowling woes point towards Sri Lanka. Apart from Nuwan Kulasekara, the rest of the Sri Lankan bowlers concede more runs than the match norm. No team has conceded runs at a rate higher than Sri Lanka since World Cup 2015.

13) Most imbalanced side: Bangladesh (bowling stronger than batting)
Bangladesh have the second-strongest bowling attack but also the second-weakest batting line-up.

Mustafizur-1-724x1024
Mustafizur Rahman: No bowler has had a higher impact than him in ODI wins since World Cup 2015.

14) Strongest team in English conditions (apart from England): India
Among the rest, the current Indian squad has played the most number of ODIs in England. Their impact has been high owing to their Champions Trophy and bilateral series wins in 2013 and 2014 respectively. India is followed by New Zealand on this count.

15) Most number of big-match performers in a side: India
India’s 15-member squad have produced 37 series/ tournament-defining performances in their ODI career. South Africa, the second-best, is far behind with 29 such performances. For India, MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh lead the count with nine series/tournament defining performances each. How much they are both past their prime could have a big say this time.

So, England are favourites the way India were in 2011, and anything other than an England-India final much like in 2013, would be an upset. In a short tournament like this though, it would be surprising if there weren’t a couple of those along the way.

 

Note: A modified version of this preview has been published in GQ India

 

Soham Sarkhel/ Nikhil Narain