ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – Final: India v England, 23 June

Dashing India against dogged England | PunterPolls Prediction

Two years ago, India went to England to play the most anticipated set of matches between the two teams. By the time India reached their last game, England was sick of them and they were sick of England. The tour gave them nothing but defeat, and the fans could hardly wait for the end. At the end of this short and sharp trip, however, India are finally up against England, two of the best sides of the tournament and deserving finalists.

India have played sparkling cricket so far, England have been pragmatic, it makes for a good match-up, but it is highly unlikely the fans or the teams will be left asking for more. If England win, they won't even get a day to celebrate; they play New Zealand in a meaningless Twenty20 on Tuesday. If India win, they will most likely be taking the Champions Trophy to the West Indies for an even more meaningless ODI tri-series.

We have been given a brief window then to relish what is at hand, rendered briefer by the role rain is likely to play with no reserve day in sight. And there is enough to relish. India are at their most aggressive: five specialist bowlers, positive batting in a tournament that has left almost everybody else circumspect, sprightly fielding and forceful captaincy. England are at their most practical: the batsmen are doing just enough for the conditions in question, and their bowlers - attaining form and fitness at the right time - are good enough to make a match of any total above 200 on pitches that are not featherbeds.

A day before the final, questions arise that classically accompany a match between a side that has waltzed its way through to the final and the other that has had to will its way through the roadblocks. Will India be undercooked should conditions and bowlers conspire against them? Suresh Raina has faced 10 balls in the tournament so far, MS Dhoni 26 and Dinesh Karthik 84. Will England's professionalism come second best - as it has tended to happen in big cricket events - to the freer spirits? Will the teams tamper with their trusted philosophies?

If India win through their opening batsmen or if England win chasing 220, it will be well deserved all right, but the real excitement lies in India winning after recovering from 10 for 3 or England gunning down 320. And in the rain staying away.

PunterPolls Prediction

Look at the Indian team performance and even a novice of cricket can tell you the better team so far in the world. Indian teams middle order yet to come in to the play, their bowlers are surprisingly doing better than what Australian, South African or in fact England bowlers have done in the tournament.

If England have to win this game they need to score 340+ batting first, or restrict India under 300 while fielding first. Another scenario when India can loose is if their all department failed badly.

So for us, India should win this game.

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ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - Final: India v England, 23 June

  • England (33% Votes)
  • India (67% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 2nd Semi-Final: India v Sri Lanka, 20 June

Teams fret more over rain than familiar opponents | PunterPolls Prediction

Even as Clint McKay and Xavier Doherty were doing their darnedest to drive Australia to a sensational victory over Sri Lanka at The Oval, there were plenty of non-Australians cheering them on, just so that the cricket world will be spared yet another India-Sri Lanka ODI. In the last five years, the two sides have met a mind numbing 44 times in ODIs, and will face off again in a tri-series in the Caribbean starting next week. The teams are so familiar with each other and their strategies that MS Dhoni said: "You can also cut the extra 15 minutes of time in a team meeting and keep it simple."

At least unlike a majority of those previous encounters, Thursday's clash is a high-stakes, high-profile game. Even that could be ruined, though, as the weather forecast is dire. Sri Lanka, whose cricket season at home is regularly blighted by rain, are the only team to have been fortunate to get three full group matches, but that run looks set to come to an end with plenty of showers expected in Cardiff.

What's worse for Sri Lanka is that, in case of a washout, India will go through on account of being winners of Group B. The Champions Trophy is marketed as a "short, sharp" tournament, but not having a reserve day for the knockout matches is stretching that concept a bit too far. The only other times these teams have met in the Champions Trophy was also in a big game, the final in 2002, which waswashed out despite the reserve day.

A week ago, midway through the league stage, Sri Lanka seemed headed for the exit as Ravi Bopara's burst in the final over lifted England to 293. Sri Lanka, however, hunted down that total before reeling off an impressive victory over Australia to progress to the semi-finals, a stage they regularly reach in global tournaments. Despite that, they have precious little silverware to show so far, something the likes of Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara will be desperate to change.

To achieve that, they have to get past the form team of the tournament. There had been a bit of trepidation over how a revamped India would cope with the loss of vastly experienced players like Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Zaheer Khan. Their absence hasn't been felt yet, as India's new opening pair of Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been prolific, and Ravindra Jadeja's miraculous season continues. A team traditionally filled with slow-coaches has now been transformed to one the normally cautious Dhoni calls "the best fielding side in the world". In the crunch matches, though, will the inexperience show?

PunterPolls Prediction

Our experts are supporting India for the game as this team is in splendid form and more balanced between the two.

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ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 2nd Semi-Final: India v Sri Lanka, 20 June

  • Sri Lanka (27% Votes)
  • India (73% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 1st Semi-Final: England v South Africa, 19 June

Amla memories make Cook sweat | PunterPolls Prediction

South Africa at The Oval, with Hashim Amla in the line up: it's a thought to make even Alastair Cook sweat. Go back further and the ground played host to a one-sided thrashing during the 1999 World Cup, the defeat so damaging in terms of net run rate that it went a long way to seeing England knocked out of the competition they were hosting.

But England have won their last two encounters in global 50-over tournaments - in Centurion and Chennai - and will take comfort from South Africa's return to The Oval for an ODI last summer. Amla made 268 runs fewer than the 311 he amassed in the first Test, and was removed by no less a bowler than Jade Dernbach, before Jonathan Trott's patient half-century was followed a brisker one from Eoin Morgan in a four-wicket win. Sounds like a good formula, doesn't it? That the series finished 2-2 suggests these teams are reasonably well matched.

Both have experienced a few malfunctions in progressing to the knockout stage. England, one-time hot favourites, have cooled like a custard left in the kitchen, their much-documented penchant for platform-building lampooned in various quarters. Wear and tear to Graeme Swann - though James Tredwell has proven an able deputy - and the bowlers' inability to defend 293 against Sri Lanka mean they have long been usurped by India as frontrunners.

AB de Villiers, meanwhile, has had to contend with injuries to his two strike bowlers, Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel - the latter tournament-ending - plus familiar jiggery pokery with Duckworth-Lewis (though this time it came to South Africa's aid). A sole group win over a hapless Pakistan is not the sort of form to fill opponents with dread, nor is a record in 50-over knockout competition that boasts just one appearance in a final, 15 years ago. At least they can take comfort in the knowledge that this match is unlikely to go the way of their 1992 World Cup semi-final against England.

At last year's World Twenty20, de Villiers was able to utter the word "choke" and not be immediately carted off. On this occasion, however, it is perhaps England who are more likely to be dragged down by an albatross around their necks. They have never won an ICC 50-over event and this may still be their best chance. Cook's men can't afford any more mistakes.

PunterPolls Prediction

This Champions Trophy turning out to be one of the boring tournament we have ever seen in the recent times. Most of the good matches been effected by rain and Punters are hardly interested in games like that.

Lets get back to today's game, 1st semi final of the tournament where chokers South Africans will take on boasted England. "Boasted" because they used to talk a lot and when it comes to perform they performed like minnows at their home ground. Our experts are expecting another minnows shows today as they are supporting South African in today's game.

One of the biggest reason for supporting South Africans their batting line-up. Though their bowlers got hard time against the West Indians in later in the game but overall they are rated high as compare to English bowlers.

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ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 1st Semi-Final: England v South Africa, 19 June

  • South Africa (58% Votes)
  • England (42% Votes)

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 – 10th Match, Group B: India v Pakistan, 15 June

Just another dead rubber? Think again | PunterPolls Prediction

This was supposed to be the marquee clash of the league stage. Tickets for the game were sold out within 30 minutes of being made available online. It isn't a coincidence that the match is scheduled for Saturday primetime viewing in India and Pakistan and could have decided the group. Instead, to the organisers' dismay, we are left with a dead rubber as India have already qualified for the semi-finals and Pakistan are eliminated.

Unlike most dead rubbers though, there's still plenty of interest since it is still an India v Pakistan match. The number of contests between the two sides has decreased over the past few years due to the strained political relations between the two countries, and fans are still eager for any chance to see the great rivals face off.

One of India's proudest one-day records is that they have never lost to Pakistan in a World Cup game, having triumphed in all five encounters. Pakistan have a similarly spotless record against India in the Champions Trophy, though there have only been two clashes between the two sides.

While Pakistan will be looking to extend that run in Birmingham, India will be looking for payback after a stinging defeat in the one-day series at home earlier this year.

In that series, Pakistan showed off the potency of their bowling attack, and India's batsmen were left nonplussed. It will again be a confrontation between Pakistan's bowling might and India's batting strength. This time, MS Dhoni's side have some of the most in-form batsmen around. In contrast, Pakistan's batting has been seriously underwhelming, while India's bowlers, about whom there was much apprehension coming into the tournament, have not done too shabbily thus far.

PunterPolls Prediction

Believe me, till day in any tournament a game between India and Pakistan had been so tensed that I won't been able to accept that today game is going to be just like another match for team India. Everyone knows that India team is the most balanced side of the tournament with the current form they are in, and with no surprise favorite to win the tournament as well.

Pakistan is under pressure, they are already out of the tournament and they have a bad record against India in any tournament they have played so far.

Our experts says, Indian should win this game. But Pakistan with nothing to loose situation is going to give them hard time. Overall, should be an interesting contest.

ICC Champions Trophy 2013 - 10th Match, Group B: India v Pakistan, 15 June

  • Pakistan (22% Votes)
  • India (78% Votes)