And so it begins. The Champions Trophy kicks off on Thursday, with hosts England taking on Bangladesh at The Oval. This is unfamiliar territory for both teams, as for the first time since perhaps 1992 do England start a limited overs’ tournament of note as one of the favourites. Having wrapped up their tough recent series against the Proteas with a match to spare, they are high on momentum too. Bangladesh also had a decent outing in Ireland recently, where they managed a maiden win against New Zealand away from home. Their last-gasp defeat to Pakistan in the thrilling warm up encounter might have dampened the mood in the camp a little.
The two sides last met in Bangladesh in October 2016 when England won the series 2-1. Bangladesh’s last win against England came at the 2015 World Cup, signalling the end of the tournament for the Three Lions. It also sparked a remarkable set of changes in squad and attitude that have seen them pick up 27 wins from 43 ODIs, the highest win percentage for any team during the period.
The Bangladesh players pile on top of each other after their victory, England v Bangladesh, World Cup 2015
The only time these two met in Champions Trophy was back in 2000 when England won by 8 wickets. The overall head to head record favours England who have 15 wins in 19 while Bangladesh have managed just 4.
As two strong batting sides face each other, the match is certain to produce a lot of runs. Bangladesh will be hoping for both of its openers to fire in tandem on Thursday, since lately both Tamim Iqbal and Soumya Sarkar have not contributed in the same game. The meteoric rise of Mustafizur Rehman and the maturity he has shown belies his years, and Bangladesh’s bowling hopes will rest on his young shoulders.
Mustafizur Rahman in his delivery stride
England would just want to continue the good work that they have been doing recently with power hitters from the top right down to the bottom of the order (except Joe Root perhaps) and a handful of bowlers with the ability to hit the 90mph mark consistently. They are perhaps the most balanced side of the tournament. The only weak link is their spinners, but if Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid start picking up wickets regularly, this England side might well become unbeatable. If the forecast for sunny skies holds true, the bowlers on both sides might be in for some stick.
England: Jason Roy, Alex Hales, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan(capt), Ben Stokes, Jos Butler(wk), Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes, Liam Plunkett, Mark Wood.
Bangladesh: Tamim Iqbal, Soumya Sarkar, Sabbir Rahman, Mushfiqur Rahim(wk), Shakib al Hasan, Mahmudullah, Mosaddek Hossain, Mehedi Hasan Miraz, Mashrafe Mortaza(capt), Rubel Hossain, Mustafiz ur Rahman.
Bangladesh will be looking towards their experienced all rounder Shakib al Hasan to stand out. Shakib is currently ranked as the number 1 all rounder in the world, with 4000+ runs and 200+ wickets, and the superstar is equally important to Bangladesh's batting and bowling endeavours.
England have no dearth of players that can make an impact. They have a number of match winners, one of them being the fiery Ben Stokes. The New Zealand born all rounder has been an important figure in the English team for some time now. He is currently in pretty good nick too, having done brilliantly in his debut season at the IPL where he performed with both bat and ball. He also struck a ton in the second game of the series against South Africa and helped England clinch the series. His resurfaced knee problems might stop him from bowling in the game, but with the bat he’s the lower-middle order juggernaut Bangladesh must contain if they are to have any hope of winning.
Ben Stokes needs 3 wickets to reach 50 wickets in his ODI career.
Soumya Sarkar nearing 1000 ODI runs (currently at 925 from 26 innings) already boasting the highest average for any Bangladeshi batsman to have ever played in the 50-over format, the 24 year can go on to become the fastest from his country to reach the 1000 mark (Shahriar Nafees the current fastest having taken 29 innings). Also has the strike rate for a Bangaldeshi in ODIs (99.67).
Moeen Ali also in with a chance to reach a half century of wickets if he manages 3 more.