Group A has clearly been the more exciting of the two groups in this final edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. Heading into the final round of matches, any of the four teams can still make the semifinals which is great news for the fans.
Australia will be hoping their Trans Tasman rivals New Zealand do them a favour by beating England in Cardiff today. A positive result for the Kiwis leaves the Aussies just needing to beat Sri Lanka on Monday to advance without them having to worry about the net run rate factor which will only come into play should England win.
From England’s perspective, the defeat to Sri Lanka the other day has indeed seen a twist to their campaign. For the hosts to reach the knockouts, they now need to beat a team they lost a three match ODI series too little over a week ago.
New Zealand ran out 2-1 winners in that series but England can take some heart from having won the last match. What will be of some concern to Alastair Cook’s men is how their bowling attack failed to trouble the Sri Lankan batsmen. Credit where it’s due of course as it was a good effort by the Lankans, led by a majestic knock from Kumar Sangakkara, to chase down 294.
The pitches haven’t exactly played to the strengths of the English bowlers and only James Anderson has been consistent from their pace trio which also comprises Stuart Broad and Tim Bresnan. The three of them are all pretty similar and maybe in this regard, England are lacking the variety that a left-arm pacer could offer.
Steven Finn’s omission so far has also been a bit of a surprise. With their batting, it seems Jonathan Trott could miss out due to an injury he has picked up although that could be a blessing in disguise. Trott’s obviously been a consistent player who holds the innings together, but his potential replacement, Jonny Bairstow, is a more attacking player.
I have maintained from the outset that there’s very little that separates the four teams in Group A, and that’s reflected in the results until now. So we can again look forward two closely fought games, provided the weather is in a sporting mood.
Professional Management Group