Champions Trophy 2017: Not a particularly great showing by the pre-tournament favourites.

Champions Trophy 2017 was one of the most exciting tournaments in ODI cricket history with a number of surprising results. The fact that the lowest ranked team (even the lowest impact) prior to the start of the tournament went on to lift the trophy after being completely written off and a disastrous start made them perhaps the most unexpected winners of a major ICC trophy in ODI history (more than India 1983, Pakistan 1992 and Sri Lanka 1996). And in that sense, this tournament has been a historic one although the majority of the cricket was one-sided, especially in the knockouts.

Impact Index got two of its four predicted semi-finalists right (India & England). Pakistan, obviously, played much above their potential and surprised everyone. Group A was the tougher group with Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh starting with a similar impact before the tournament. We had placed New Zealand higher as they had a better record in English conditions and were in better form. Had rains not intervened, it might have been a different story altogether but it was always going to be a tight race for the second semi-final spot from that group.

We have a look at the various teams – what they did right and where they went wrong and also who were the players who made a difference in the tournament.


PAKISTAN

What went right:

1) Sarfraz Ahmed’s pro-active and inspiring captaincy.

2) Fakhar Zaman opened up bowling attacks with a visible disregard to opposition’s tactical nous. Came up with the goods in both the knockout matches in his debut ODI tournament to finish as the highest impact player of the tournament. Unreal.

3) Hasan Ali catching hold of the middle-overs to repeatedly disturb the opposition with a consistency level unheard of in Pakistani cricket in the recent past. He finished the tournament as its highest impact bowler with a 0% failure rate.

4) When the moment arrived Mohammad Amir was Akramesque. Amir had previously produced breath-taking performances against India in Asia Cup T20 and in their previous World T20 encounter but didn’t have a win to show for. He has a trophy now. That too in England. Talk about stories.

5) Azhar Ali is not a stereotypical modern day ODI opener but barring his innings against South Africa, he didn’t suffer a comprehensive failure with the bat in the rest of the tournament. His contributions don’t stand out through his conventional numbers, but his Partnership-Building Impact was the third-best for an opener in this tournament after that of Tamim Iqbal and Fakhar Zaman. Not surprisingly he turned out to be the second-highest impact batsman of the tournament.

What went wrong:

1) Given his experience, Shoaib Malik would have been expected to play a more significant role. He finished the tournament with a failure rate of 80% – the highest amongst all Pakistani players who played more than one match in the tournament.

2) Babar Azam’s form – he did not reach 50 in any of the 5 matches. Considering he bats at number three he is expected to do better.

Way ahead:

1) Given their history, a stable relationship between the Pakistani Cricket Board (PCB), its players and its management is the need of the hour. Champions Trophy 2017 has been a landmark victory in its own right but the administrators have to ensure it translates into a competitive Pakistani team for the future and not a flash-in-the-pan victory like that of West Indies’ in the 2004 edition.

2) Sarfraz Ahmed should be used as a floater. He has a high Strike Rate Impact so can be used to push the run-rate in the first half of the innings.

Mohammad Amir: Turned the final on its head on a flat track.


INDIA

What went right:

1) The performances of the top 3- Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.

2) Hardik Pandya’s hitting prowess – strike rate was an area of concern for India. Pandya had the highest Strike Rate Impact in the tournament.
Interestingly, he was also India’s highest impact batsman (min. 3 innings).

3) Bhuvneshwar Kumar rediscovering his mojo in national colours. He was the most restrictive bowler of the tournament.

What went wrong:

1) The only time the Indian batting line-up came under the pressure of falling wickets in the tournament—they collapsed.

2) Unsorted middle-order.

3) Yuvraj Singh finished as the lowest impact player for India in the tournament. His future as a number 4 batsman should come under question.

4) Abject display by both the spinners—Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin.

Way ahead:

1) Place for Mohammed Shami in the ODI team. He is the highest impact ODI bowler in this Indian team.

2) Dinesh Karthik or KL Rahul as a potential replacement for Yuvraj Singh come World Cup 2019.

3) Not a bad time to harness Kuldeep Yadav into the national team. India is in dire need of a wrist spinner.

4) Krunal Pandya to be groomed as a potential replacement for Ravindra Jadeja.

5) For all the talks of positivity surrounding this current team, this is now the fourth Indian loss (compared to three wins) in the knockout stages in the last three years in an ICC tournament.

KL Rahul: Will India’s Test regular get a shot in the ODI team?

 

ENGLAND

What went right:

1) The middle order stood up more often than not with Ben Stokes, Joe Root and Eoin Morgan emerging as their highest impact batsmen.

2) Adil Rashid’s genuine wicket-taking potency in the group games.

What went wrong:

1) Chris Woakes’ injury in the first game of the tournament. Woakes has been England’s fourth-highest impact player since the 2015 World Cup after Stokes, Root and Rashid. His absence was a big blow. Woakes had provided 9 high impact performances in 27 ODIs in the period between the World Cup and the Champions Trophy. Only Root produced a high impact performance more regularly than Woakes in this English squad in this period.

2) Using Jonny Bairstow as an opener in their knockout match against Pakistan. Bairstow is amongst the highest Pressure Impact batsmen in the England batting line-up, his forte is to stabilise the innings in case of a collapse.

3) Jason Roy and Moeen Ali finishing the tournament with a 100% failure rate.

4) Ben Stokes’ inability to make headway with his bowling.

5) In bilateral series deciders and knockout matches since the 2015 World Cup, England have now won two and lost three.

Way ahead:

1) Instead of Roy, England would have been better served by opening with Moeen and using Bairstow in the middle order.

2) In vital need of a pace spearhead. Lack of leadership in the bowling department. Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood and Jake Ball impressed in patches but were too inconsistent to have a defining mark.

Ben Stokes: Had a good tournament with the bat but an equally poor one with the ball.

BANGLADESH

What went right:

1) Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim with the bat.

2) Mashrafe Mortaza’s economy with the ball. Amongst the most restrictive bowlers in the tournament.

What went wrong:

1) The inability of the pace attack to pick top order wickets. In particular, the performance of Mustafizur Rahman was very disappointing. He has been amongst the highest impact bowlers in ODI cricket in the last two years. Not only did he fail to pick wickets but was also expensive in the tournament.

2) The inability of the spinners to stem the flow of runs.

Way ahead:

1) More pace bowling options with the new ball.

2) Reinstating Mahmudullah as a number 3 batsman. Despite achieving great success from the position, Mahmudullah has been pushed down the order. In the match against New Zealand where he had overs to play with, Mahmudullah changed the course of the match alongwith Shakib Al Hasan.

Mustafizur Rahman: Lack of surface variations rendered his bowling style ineffective.

NEW ZEALAND

What went right:

1) Kane Williamson.

What went wrong:

1) Rains. New Zealand were favourites in their opening match against Australia before rain interrupted the play with Australia struggling at 53 for 3 after 9 overs, chasing 235 in 33. The win could have changed the dynamics in the group and could have significantly reduced the pressure on the Kiwis for the rest of their games.

2) Martin Guptill enjoyed a stellar run in ODIs since 2016 but came undone in this tournament. Couldn’t provide big scores despite getting starts in both the completed matches.

3) Trent Boult was New Zealand’s highest impact bowler in the 2015 World Cup but was their lowest impact pacer in Champions Trophy 2017.

4) The all-rounders. Both James Neesham and Mitchell Santner had a 100% failure rate as players in the tournament.

Way ahead:

1) They need to sort their middle-order batting. Neil Broom and James Neesham as numbers 5 and 6 need to be aware of their roles. If not them, the hunt for replacements should start now.

2) Identifying a stable opening partner for Martin Guptill. In the tri-nation series with Bangladesh and Ireland just before the start of the Champions Trophy 2017, Tom Latham captained New Zealand and finished as the top run-getter in the tournament. Bizarrely, he didn’t play a single match in the ICC event.

Mitchell McClenaghan: NZ’s highest impact bowler in the last edition of the Champions Trophy didn’t get a single game this time around.

SOUTH AFRICA

What went right:

1) Performances of Morne Morkel.

What went wrong:

1) The big failure of AB de Villiers—the third-highest impact batsman in ODI history eventually turning out to be the lowest impact specialist batsman for them in the tournament.

2) Hashim Amla’s continuation of less-than-convincing performances in global ICC ODI events. He has a failure rate of 56% in Champions Trophy and 47% in World Cups compared to his career (rest of the matches) failure rate of 39%.

3) Quinton de Kock got starts in each of his innings but could not convert them into anything defining.

4) They entered the tournament as the lowest Pressure Impact side amongst our projected semi-finalists but succumbed to it way before we expected.

5) Chris Morris failing to live up to his reputation of being a genuine all-rounder.

6) Underwhelming performances by Kagiso Rabada.

Way ahead:

1) A specialist high Pressure Impact batsman in their middle-order.

Quinton de Kock: Had no comprehensive failures in any of his innings but didn’t produce a high impact performance either.

 

SRI LANKA

What went right:

1) The great talent in their young and inexperienced batting line-up – Niroshan Dickwella, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis and Asela Gunaratne – all showed glimpses of their potential.

2) Nuwan Pradeep’s ability to make inroads.

What went wrong:

1) No playmaker/pivot in their batting line-up.

2) Lasith Malinga is amongst their lowest impact bowlers in the last couple of years. He neither posed a threat as a wicket-taker nor could control the flow of runs.

3) Most of the specialist bowlers were expensive.

4) Fielding. If not for some schoolboy errors, Sri Lanka would have been in all certainty playing their semi-final against England.

Way ahead:

1) More support for Pradeep with the new ball. Some variety in the attack – maybe a left-arm seamer.

2) A specialist spinner.


AUSTRALIA

What went right:

1) Nothing.

What went wrong:

1) Inclement weather got them off the hook against New Zealand but it also robbed them of a sure shot victory against Bangladesh. Had the rains not intervened it would have made their last match against England a virtual knockout anyway and this squad was clearly not cut out for English conditions given their past performances.

2) A big question mark over Moises Henriques’ spot.

Way ahead:

1) Settling on a stable XI.

INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS:

Highest Impact Players (taking big-match performances into account; min: 3 matches): Fakhar Zaman, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Azhar Ali & Adil Rashid.

Highest Impact Players (not taking big-match performances into account): Fakhar Zaman, Adil Rashid, Hasan Ali, Eoin Morgan & Niroshan Dickwella.

Highest Impact Batsmen (taking big-match performances into account): Fakhar Zaman, Azhar Ali, Ben Stokes, Hardik Pandya & Joe Root.

Highest Impact Batsmen (not taking big-match performances into account): Fakhar Zaman, Ben Stokes, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan & Shikhar Dhawan.

Highest Impact Bowlers (taking big-match performances into account):
Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Adil Rashid, Junaid Khan & Morne Morkel.

Highest Impact Bowlers (not taking big-match performances into account): Hasan Ali, Adil Rashid, Junaid Khan, Morne Morkel & Nuwan Pradeep.

Most consistent players: Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Fakhar Zaman, Eoin Morgan, Junaid Khan.

Highest Economy Impact bowler: Bhuvneshwar Kumar

Highest Top/Middle Order wicket taker: Hasan Ali

Highest Strike Rate Impact batsman: Hardik Pandya

Highest Pressure Impact batsman: Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah

Highest Chasing Impact batsman: Ben Stokes

Best Partnership-Breaking bowler: Morne Morkel

Lowest impact player: Soumya Sarkar

Highest impact wicket-keeper batsman: Sarfraz Ahmed

Highest impact batsman in the knockouts: Fakhar Zaman

Highest impact bowler in the knockouts: Hasan Ali

 

Team of the tournament (batting positions taken into account for the top 6): Fakhar Zaman, Shikhar Dhawan, Kane Williamson, Eoin Morgan, Ben Stokes, Sarfraz Ahmed, Hardik Pandya, Adil Rashid, Junaid Khan, Hasan Ali & Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

 

 

Soham Sarkhel/Nikhil Narain
Illustrations: Vasim Maner