Home > Features >

ICC Champions Trophy 2013: MS Dhoni can be trusted to pull rabbits out of hats

ICC Champions Trophy 2013: MS Dhoni can be trusted to pull rabbits out of hats

MS Dhoni’s batting position and handling of key players may decide India’s fate in the tournament © PTI

By Madhav Krishnan

The Champions Trophy or the mini World Cup will be played for the last time, with the Test Championship primed for replacing it. But the Test cricket enthusiast would perhaps be saddened by its delay. The Test Championship was slated to be played a year or two ago but was cancelled and thereby denying the world witnessing the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Jacques Kallis, Ricky Ponting battling it out at a big stage for one last time — the last set whose batting nous has not been largely affected by playing T20 cricket.

But then, the world moves on. So does the cricketing world. Hosted by England, the forthcoming edition of the Champions Trophy has no runaway favourites in sight. At the end of the tournament, teams shall know where they stand as this reality check will be their ultimate wakeup call before the 2015 World Cup, to be played in similar conditions in Australia-New Zealand.

England will be buoyed by the fact that they are playing on known field. With Captain Cook and Joe Root in hot form, and a bowling attack more than just potent in those conditions, England might be expected to be unfazed by oppositions. But as always, cricket is a funny game and England a funny team, who in the past have fallen short in ICC tournaments. The loss of Kevin Pietersen to injury, their talismanic batsman, might just prove to be the difference at the end.

Defending the trophy, the Aussies can never be ruled out of an ICC tournament. A team which finally captured the trophy that eluded them in 2006, they have been hot during the last two editions. Michael Clarke will once again hold the key as he has done over the past year and a half, with “Most Valuable Player” Shane Watson and David Warner having hopes pinned upon. For them to go the distance without feeling Michael Hussey’s absence, they must play their game unerringly. A pace attack with lanky, boisterous pacers might just prove enough for most teams.

But both these teams would not mind losing. With the Ashes to be played in July, the Trophy only matters less, especially to the visiting team who hope to avert their third straight Ashes defeat.

The spotlights will be on South Africa. The No. 1 Test team, playing their last tournament under the industrious Gary Kirsten will be looking to galvanise their ODI performance as well. The winners of the first-ever Champions Trophy in Bangladesh, they have had very less success coming their way although they have had the best of teams which have capitulated in key moments in ICC trophies, thus earning them the C-tag. Since 1999, the team at the top of the perch in Test rankings has gone on to win the World Cup.

Whether or not they know the fact, the Proteas would love to win both the Champions Trophy and the World Cup.

Next in the pecking order for the punters are the Asian giants.

Sri Lanka again will depend on the Kumar Sangakkara-Mahela Jayawardene duo to carry the team, helped by the likes of Dilshan Tillakaratne, Dinesh Chandimal and the all-rounders they have. Their bowling will come under pressure as they will limit the number of spinners they play to just the prolific Rangana Herath, having to bench the mystery spinners that they banked upon in Sri Lanka during the T20 World Cup. Most of the work has to be done by the sinister Lalith Malinga and the Trojan in the good sense, Nuwan Kulasekara. Sri Lanka have an excellent track record in major tournaments although trophy-less, but who knows, they may turn the tables this time.

India enters an ICC tournament without the retired Sachin Tendulkar who wanted the preparation for the World Cup to begin in the right earnest. The selectors have not pardoned the experienced opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir for poor form, and Yuvraj Singh left out on form and/or fitness grounds. With a rather inexperienced top order, a newish pace attack much depends on different players coming good on different occasions. But then, Mahendra Singh Dhoni could still pull a few rabbits out of not only his but even others’ hat. His handling of Dinesh Karthik, Ravindra Jadeja and Ishant Sharma and deciding where he himself bats, to me, will decide India’s fate. The time is ripe for Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina to show the world that they are good travellers.

Pakistan has achieved some amount of stability over the years in terms of their team, but still remain to be hot or cold on different days. They can boast of a pace attack that collectively makes equal damage as a well-oiled Dale Steyn could produce. Their campaign will largely depend on their bowlers to win them any match, given the hot and cold nature of their batting, given the English conditions. Below par fielding and wicket-keeping in the past have cost them dearly and they must have everything spruced up.

The surprise element in most tournaments has been New Zealand which has often punched above their weights. They would once again look to do the same with a squad different from that lost 2-0 in the Tests versus England.

Dexterity with both the ball and bat comes only to a few and the Windies have quite a few of such players. Past winners of the Champions Trophy, and having powerhouses in their ranks they would look to once again spoil others’ show but to pip every other team in the final, their bowling must come good and the all-rounders must come good. Under their new captain Bravo, they will start afresh and their free-flowing cricket will be sought.

All in all, this is a wonderful tournament for all teams before the 2015 World Cup and with a host nation that offers good scope for both bat and ball to claw back, and an Indo- Pak clash in the offing, the last Champions Trophy is worth the hype and watch. As long as the weather and the bookies stay away from marring the scene, we are set to have a cracker of a tournament.

(Madhav Krishnan is a student from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (Hyderabad), pursuing M.Sc (Chemistry) and B.E. in Mechanical Engineering)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here