India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka will slog it out in Group B of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. Here’s everything you need to know. By ANTOINETTE MULLER.
The nature of this tournament means that all the groups are tight, but Group B definitely has one clear underdog: Sri Lanka. The remaining three make for an intriguing tussle, especially since South Africa and Pakistan continue to find new ways to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Defending champions, India, also have a point to prove. As a team with a reputation for failing to perform consistently away from home (and the stats backing this up with 164 losses out of 312 matches played away), a few sceptics might wonder if their victory in the 2013 edition was merely a fluke.
But the group also promises one of the most exciting rivalries in world cricket: Pakistan vs India. No matter how many times these two teams play each other, meetings between them are always a treat – even more so when their tournament chances might depend on it.
Sri Lanka aside, just like in Group A, there is very little to separate the teams. For context on just how tight the competition is, consider this: just 10 points separate first-ranked South Africa and fifth-ranked England.
Sri Lanka (ranked seventh) and Pakistan (ranked eighth) are the two lowest ranked teams in the competition and are both in this group, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be pushovers.
Who is in Group B?
India, Pakistan, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
Team to watch
Pakistan has some of the most exciting players at the tournament and they have the potential to dish up a thrill a minute. They also have the potential to have a complete meltdown in that same minute. If you’re tuning in for entertainment value, Pakistan is a good team to follow.
Player to watch
Quinton de Kock walked away with a wheelbarrow full of awards at the annual Cricket South Africa awards recently. When asked: “What does this mean to you?” he simply quipped: “I dunno.” De Kock has long been a source of amusement for journalists who have to interview him, especially when he says that he’d rather talk about fishing than cricket. But De Kock’s ability not to overthink the small details is perhaps his biggest talent. See ball, hit ball, go out and bat. Job done.
South Africa looked in good touch heading into the tournament, but then seemingly forgot how to play cricket for two games against England. They found their razzmatazz again in the third and final ODI, and really should make it out of the group. We’re hedging our bets on India being the other team to progress. Foreign conditions aside, there are just too many talented players in their squad for them to miss out.
“Nobody will give us a chance, to be really honest. But we’re happy to enter the tournament as underdogs, as anyone may call us,” Sri Lankan captain Angelo Mathews getting the platitudes out of the way nice and early.
Group A squads
India: Virat Kohli(c), Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Kedar Jadhav, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed(c), Ahmed Shehzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Fahim Ashraf , Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Shadab Khan, Shoaib Malik, Wahab Riaz, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail.
South Africa: Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers(c), Jean-Paul Duminy, David Miller, Chris Morris, Wayne Parnell, Andile Phehlukwayo, Kagiso Rabada, Imran Tahir, Dwaine Pretorius, Keshav Maharaj, Farhaan Behardien, Morne Morkel.
Sri Lanka: Angelo Mathews(c), Upul Tharanga, Niroshan Dickwella, Kusal Mendis, Kusal Perera, Chamara Kapugedera, Asela Gunaratne, Dinesh Chandimal, Lasith Malinga, Suranga Lakmal, Nuwan Kulasekara, Nuwan Pradeep, Thisara Perera, Lakshan Sandakan, Seekkuge Prasanna.
Group B fixtures and head-to-head results (all times SAST)
3 June: Sri Lanka vs South Africa, 11:30
4 June: India vs Pakistan, 11:30
7 June: Pakistan vs South Africa, 11:30
8 June: India vs Sri Lanka, 11:30
11 June: India vs South Africa, 11:30
12 June: Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, 11:30 DM
Photo: Jean-Paul Duminy celebrates with team mates after running out Santner. One Day International Cricket. New Zealand Black Caps v South Africa Proteas. Eden Park, Auckland. New Zealand. Saturday 4 March 2017 © Copyright photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.photosport.nz
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