LWOC Writers’ Champions Trophy XI

After an initial slow start, the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy turned out to be one of the most thrilling and unpredictable tournaments yet. It was full of sensational batting, game-changing spells of bowling and a finish that no one saw coming. Pakistan, after looking so poor in their first match, found serious form to firstly keep themselves in the tournament and then go on to win their first ever Champions Trophy, overcoming the mighty India.

There were several outstanding performers in the tournament, so much so that picking a team of the tournament ended up being no mean feat. We asked the LastWordOnCricket writers to come up with one, anyhow. And these were the most popular picks.

1. Shikhar Dhawan (333 runs, 67.60 average)

Left-hander Dhawan may be a batsman that still fails to totally convince but there is little doubt that he is a man for the big occasion. He backed up his successful 2013 Champions Trophy campaign with another superb campaign this time around, finishing as the tournament’s top run-scorer and proving pivotal to India’s batting prowess up to the final. His 125 in a losing cause against Sri Lanka was a treat to watch.

2. Fakhar Zaman (252 runs, 63 avg)

What a story. Zaman did not even start the first match against India but was drafted in by Pakistan in hope of giving his side some much-needed momentum. And he did exactly that. His no-fear approach at the top of the order gave Pakistan a terrific platform and lifted the pressure off a struggling batting line-up. His hundred in the final underlined his importance to Pakistan’s revival.

3. Tamim Iqbal (293 runs, 73.25 avg)

Bangladesh exceeded all expectations in this tournament by reaching the semi-finals for the first time ever. At the heart of their run was the impressive Tamim, who batted like a man at the top of his game. His 128 in the first match against England made the home side’s improving bowling attack look average again. 95 against Australia in the next match was arguably a better knock in difficult conditions, against an imperious attack. Has enhanced his reputation massively.

4. Virat Kohli (c) (258 runs, 129 avg)

In the end, it wasn’t to be for India in the final, as they were undone by the form of Pakistan. Captain Kohli can’t have been too unhappy with his own performances, however, as the 28-year-old was outstanding. It took the last game for him to be dismissed in the tournament and his supreme class in chasing totals down was once again on show. Was, along with Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, essential to India going as far as they did.

5. Eoin Morgan (208 runs, 69.33 avg)

A slightly controversial choice but Morgan continued ODI form earns him a slot in the middle order. He looked in fine touch as England easily chased down another 300 plus score in the first match against Bangladesh. Yet his best knock, by far, was his 87 against Australia. Not only did he and Ben Stokes help England recover from 35-3, but his brave, counter-attacking style with which he scored his runs left many rising to their feet. Will have been disappointed not to have won the trophy like many predicted but he led his side well yet again.

6. Ben Stokes (184 runs, 92 avg, 3 wickets)

 

Coming off the back of a successful maiden IPL stint, much was expected of Stokes in this Champions Trophy, and he didn’t disappoint. He gave England momentum in the middle overs with the bat, with his stylish unbeaten 102 in partnership with Morgan against the Aussies being one of the innings of the tournament. Didn’t find his best form with the ball but was always a good option for England as a fifth bowler in the middle period.

7. Mushfiqur Rahim (wk) (163 runs, 40,75 avg)

Wicket-keeper Rahim was another crucial part of Bangladesh’s run in this tournament, providing a calm, experienced head to a fragile batting order. Worked well in combination with Tamim, sharing partnerships of 156 against England and 123 in the semi-final versus India with the opener. Will have perhaps been disappointed not to go on and score even bigger but he remains a key part of Bangladesh’s rise in ODI cricket.

8. Adil Rashid (7 wickets, 20.28 bowling average)

Amid the inconsistencies in England’s bowling line-up, Rashid gave England much-needed control in the spin department. He offered plenty of variation, often something that the pacemen have lacked, and was a genuine wicket-taking option in the middle overs. Bowled one of his best spells in an England shirt to restrict Australia to just 277-9 at Edgbaston.

9. Liam Plunkett (8 wickets, 24.50 avg)

Once leading paceman Chris Woakes broke down with a side strain in the first match, the pressure was on Plunkett to lead a bowling attack that was seen as England’s weak point. However, the Yorkshire man bowled with outstanding variation and intelligence in the middle overs, producing two particularly excellent spells in the process. His 4-55 tied down a dangerous group of New Zealand batsmen and sealed England’s place in the semi-finals.

10. Hasan Ali (13 wickets, 14.69 avg)

The tournament’s outstanding bowler, without a doubt. His ability to change the momentum of a match in the middle overs was a thrill to watch as he led Pakistan to Champions Trophy glory. Thanks to his great control and pace with which he bowled, Hasan was able to pick up crucial wickets for his side when they needed it most. More importantly, he grew as the tournament went on and saved his best performances for the semi-final and final against England and India respectively, getting the better of two batting line-ups that destroyed several sides earlier in the tournament.

11. Josh Hazlewood (9 wickets, 15.77 avg)

In a highly disappointing Champions Trophy campaign for Australia, the success of Hazlewood was one bright spark. He picked one of the tournament’s best ever figures (6/52) against New Zealand, as he led an Australian fightback against their rivals from across the Tasman. Also proved a real handful against England, dismissing Alex Hales and Joe Root with excellent deliveries and putting the hosts in initial trouble before their revival. Will be a key man to Australia’s chances of regaining the Ashes this winter.

 

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