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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Champions Trophy 2013 - India and England

India meets England on the 23rd June in the final of the last-ever Champions Trophy at Birmingham (two days before the 30th anniversary of their greatest victory in limited over internationals - the 1983 World Cup win) trying to go farther than their earlier achievements in the tournament (Joint Winners in Colombo and finalist in Nairobi). The Champions Trophy has given us great memories over the years and a win this time will be the icing on the cake.

The match seems to be quite evenly matched with a solid English side playing on familiar home conditions against a young fearless Indian team. Though on the surface it appears that the Indian batting is its strength (which might still be the case), the tournament statistics so far reveals a different picture.

If one looks at the top bowling performers, Jimmy Anderson and Ravindra Jadeja are at the top of the table for their countries with the same number of wickets. They are followed by a bunch of Indian bowlers (Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashwin) and a bunch of Englishmen (Broad, Tredwell, Bresnan, Bopara) before being rounded off by Umesh Yadav. The economy rates for the Indians have been quite remarkable while the English team's numbers have been dented by the loss against Sri Lanka.

Jadeja's accuracy and strike rate especially against the English middle order (who will be suspect to his spin) will be key while Ishant and Umesh will have to be at their accurate best. Ishant has always troubled the English captain and he will do well to repeat the same in the final. Ashwin will be expected to bamboozle the team with his bag of tricks. If the English weather comes to the fore (which seems to be the case seeing the weather site), the bowlers from the home team (led by Anderson) will test the Indian batsmen to the max. Broad and Bresnan seem to be struggling and hopefully the Indians will be able to take advantage of their erractic form.

On the batting front, only the Indian openers are present in the top six run-scoring batsmen on either side. This could be attributed to the fact that the rest of the Indian team have hardly had any chance to play, thanks to the remarkable partnerships put up by Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (two fifies and two hundreds in 5 innings - least being 48). That is where the Indian captain and coach will have to worry about - Dhoni doesnt figure at all in this list (since he had to play only one innings). It will be truly the final test for the openers to prove their worth in a big match against a testing opposition - if they can pull it off, their confidence will surely move up one notch.

The Rotation Rate surprisingly has been in favour of the Englishmen in this tournament (players like Trott, Root and Cook) seem to be better placed compared to the Indians. The reason for this is the fact that the Indians are more circumspect in their approach, preferring to play dot-balls at the beginning to protect their wicket (though looking at Dhawan one cannot agree with this conclusion) while bringing the T20-style big shots at the end. It is also partly due to the fact that the Indians have been chasing smaller targets in this competition so far. The English are doing good in recent matches and their coach must be hoping for an encore in the final. They are up against the World Cup champions and it will be a big challenge for them to bring out their A-game.

My prediction - an Indian win, no doubt!
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