It is so refreshing to see International teams compete in a rare One-Day International tournament amidst T20 leagues and unvarying bilateral series. This 8th edition of ICC Champions Trophy promises exhilarating and nerve-jangling close contests. Pakistan must be feeling buoyant after tasting success in all three formats against West Indies. Although, the hosts were nowhere near their prime; it would still do a world of good to Pakistan as they are carrying the winning momentum into ICC Champions Trophy .
This will be the first major test for the young Karachi-born captain, Sarfraz Ahmed. He is hailed as a street-smart captain with an astute sense of game awareness. A livewire on the field in all departments of the game, but the young captain has shown glimpses of panic when things are not happening on the field and the micromanaging of players may not work well at the International level. It could mount pressure on the young teammates. Nevertheless, his record in the brief stint hasn't been bad by any means.
This time around, Pakistan will be up for tournament sell-out against arch-rivals India in the very first match on June 4. Extraneous factors can get players overwhelmed and the history may play in the mind as well. The onus will be primarily on senior fellows who must step up in this mini-World Cup; the likes of Shoaib Malik, Azhar Ali, M Amir, and M Hafeez who have substantial matches under their belt will play a pivotal role in the much-anticipated contest. It will be a cherry on the cake if the younger lot - including Shadab Khan, Fahim Ashraf, and Hassan Ali - chip in these high-profile matches.
Pakistan played in England not long ago and there were many great moments especially in the test format where Pakistan almost pulled a series win. The One Day format hasn't been our strong suite, but high profile tournaments do provide a splendid opportunity to develop as a side. Making into the latter stages boosts confidence that comes handy in the years to follow. We saw how New Zealand altered their approach altogether in 2015 World Cup and revamped their strategy, thereby adopting to modern day cricket standards with a ruthless approach. This allowed them to develop into a formidable side, ending the days of mediocracy.
Henceforth, Champions Trophy could be the start of a new era for Pakistan if they are able to capitalize and play out of their skin.
Once again, our batting will define our progress in the Champions Trophy . To find that subtle balance between maintaining a swift strike rate and not losing quick wickets will be essential to pose and chase big totals. We lack all-rounders and bashers who could win the game single-handed. Therefore, with limited talent, a team effort becomes imperative to stay alive in a fiercely competitive high profile tournament.
The once promising and dominant opener, Umar Akmal was sacked for fitness reasons before the tournament actually began. Umar Akmal was always a surprise entry into the team as consistent failures at the international level didn't really build a strong case for his comeback. It appeared as a panic selection considering the flamboyant batsmen at the top. Sharjeel Khan was unavailable due to on-going fixing case investigation.
Inarguably the most prolific and dynamic batsmen cricket has ever seen, AB de Villiers reckons hosts England as hot favorites to clinch the title. Virat Kohli is also of the view that England has a balanced unit with no weak link. Only time will tell that whether England will succumb under expectations of playing at home or emerge as a strong outfit, pouncing on home advantage.