The ICC Champions Trophy, the second-most prestigious international championship in world cricket, opens on Thursday as host England face the long shot of the competition, Bangladesh — the team that just two years ago inflicted one of the most painful defeats England cricket has ever suffered. The one-day international will be a rematch of the extraordinary 15-run Bangladesh win in the 2015 Cricket World Cup, a win that sent England crashing out of the competition at the group stage and sent Bangladesh to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time.
This time, however, England are favored to win the eight-team Champions Trophy tournament, while Bangladesh are seen by experts and oddsmakers as the competition’s longshot. According to British betting parlor Sky Bet, the hosts stand at 5/2 odds to carry off their first-ever Champions Trophy, narrowly topping Australia at 3/1 odds and South Africa at 7/2.
Bangladesh, on the other hand, come in with the longest Sky Bet odds in the eight-team field at 33-1. Positioned in Group A against England, Australia, and New Zealand, the Tigers are widely expected to face elimination without winning a single game. The “X-factor” for the Group A underdogs will be 21-year-old left-arm bowling sensation Mustafizur Rahman, who was not part of the 2015 World Cup squad that defeated England. The oft-injured prodigy has become one of cricket’s most proficient wicket-takers — if he can remain healthy.
Watch a preview of the Bangladesh Champions Trophy campaign in the video below, courtesy of CricBuzz.
Defending Champions Trophy holders India make their tournament debut on Sunday, June 4, in what is certain to be the most anticipated match of the tournament’s group stage when they face arch-rival Pakistan at the venerable Edgbaston Cricket Ground in Birmingham — the site of India’s triumph over England in the Champions Trophy final four years ago, a game that was shortened to 20 overs per side due to inclement weather.
India brings back a squad almost identical to the 2013 trophy winners, with Virat Kohli, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shikhar Dhawan, MS Dhoni, Ravi Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Dinesh Karthik all making return appearances. The main difference appears to be that Kohli has now been elevated to captain’s spot with Dhoni stepping aside.
Nonetheless, India at 9/2 odds are expected to emerge from Group B, where they are matched against South Africa and 25/1 shot Sri Lanka as well as Pakistan — who are listed at 16/1.
Watch a preview of the India team’s ICC Champions Trophy chances in the video below.
Pakistan, despite carrying better betting odds than both of their subcontinental rivals Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, enter the tournament as the eighth and lowest-ranked side in the field — barely edging West Indies by two points to qualify for the 2017 ICC Champions trophy competition.
However, if Pakistan can upend India in Sunday’s Group B match, the Men in Green will consider the tournament at least a partial success. Though India has won 10 of the two nations’ 11 meetings in Cricket World Cup and World T20 Cup competitions, when it comes to Champions Trophy matchups, Pakistan holds a 2-1 lead in the head-to-head confrontations.
Former Pakistan great Younis Khan said on Tuesday that he believes the high-scorns pitch at Edgbaston gives Pakistan’s batsmen a chance to overtake their rivals.
“The Pakistani side has the ability to beat India in the ICC Champions Trophy as Pakistan has outperformed India in the past as well,” Khan said. “Pitches look good, and in my opinion even 400 runs will be easily chased down in the Champions Trophy.”
Two-time Champions Trophy winners Australia are expected to pose the toughest challenge for England, with the two rivals — who will contest the iconic Ashes series later this year in Australia — first facing off on June 10 in a Group A match at Edgbaston.
Watch a preview of the Australia Champions Trophy tournament in the following video.
The defending Cricket World Cup champions have undergone an upheaval since taking the World Cup, losing fast bowler Mitchell Johnson and skipper Michael Clarke to retirement while once-dominant fast bowler James Faulkner was not even selected for the Champions Trophy squad. At the same time, World Cup Man of the Tournament Mitchell Starc has been plagued by injuries and will need to stay healthy for the Australia side to have their best chance of winning the Champions Trophy for a third time.
[Featured Image by Gareth Copley/Getty Images]