The stage is set up brilliantly for the mega finals of Champions Trophy, which used to be commonly referred to as “Mini World Cup”, with the age-old rivalry between brotherly nations, India and Pakistan, rekindle their passion for the sport.
It’s been an on- off kind of tournament which didn’t take off as everyone expected. Few matches washed out and most of the remaining matches turned out to be one-sided with one team maintaining the control of the game from the start.
Two teams that brought life to this tournament are Bangladesh and Pakistan. Bangladesh, now starting to believe, that they belong to the big stage, made it to the Semi-Finals for the first time in an ICC event after all these years of participation. Of course, there is a luck factor involved but nevertheless, nothing to take away from their brilliant turn up this season.
The second team is Pakistan, who just enhanced their reputation of being the most unpredictable team. The team looked shambles, making into the tournament in the last minute. The first game versus India was all ruins and Jarrod Kimber in his article for ESPNCricinfo didn’t hold himself back about their performance. But, ever since it’s been a great turnaround to make it to the finals is a big deal.
As we wait for the mega-encounter to unfold, here is my pick of the team for Champions Trophy 2017:
Openers: Tamim Iqbal (BAN) and Rohit Sharma (IND). It is very difficult to not include Shikhar Dhawan who had been equally brilliant, if not even more than Tamim Iqbal. But, the team demanded even more from the Bangladeshi batsman and he delivered.
Middle Order: The big 3 players of the current generation: Virat Kohli (IND), Joe Root (ENG) and Kane Williamson (NZ) will complete the slots for No. 3-5.
All Rounders: It is really tough to think a name beyond Ben Stokes (ENG).
Wicket Keepers: MS Dhoni (IND), might not have made big runs in the tournament but he had been absolutely brilliant behind the stumps making some excellent dismissals.
Spinners: As expected, it hasn’t been as a happy tournament for spinners with pace bowlers taking the center stage. Even India, heavily spin dependent team, opted to play the game versus Pakistan with only one spinner. Adil Rashid (ENG) is the only spinner who delivered the promise. Imran Tahir (SA) makes it to the list with the most economical bowling this season.
Pacers: Hassan Ali (PAK) is one of the primary reasons for Pakistan to have made it to the Finals. He is the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 10 wickets helping the vulnerable batting line-up to finish the job. Australia disappointingly exited this tournament with weather playing the big role than the players themselves. Josh Hazlewood (AUS) having bowled only 28 overs, picked 9 wickets with a 6-for.
Champions Trophy 2017- Team of the Tournament: Tamim Iqbal (BAN), Rohit Sharma (IND), Virat Kohli (IND)- Captain, Joe Root (ENG), Kane Williamson (NZ), Ben Stokes (ENG), MS Dhoni (IND), Adil Rashid (ENG), Imran Tahir (SA), Hassan Ali (PAK), Josh Hazlewood (AUS).