If we’d have bothered writing a Champions Trophy preview, we might have had India down as fair weather favourites. It’s as much the lack of alternatives as anything else.
India have their weaknesses, but despite the absence of some extraordinarily familiar faces they’re experienced and they play to their strengths. There may have been players paid to underperform during the IPL, but the India cricket team is overpaid to perform. They will make runs and they won’t worry too much when the opposition do.
Shorn of Dale Steyn – and a side strain can keep a fast bowler out for a while – South Africa look like a dilute version of India. They have a few explosive batsmen, but their bowling attack is clogged up with generic seam. They also need to beat both Pakistan and the West Indies now.
That’s right. One match in and already a major team is on the brink. In fact, there is a very slim chance South Africa could win those two matches and still go out if other results don’t go their way.
Make no mistake, the Champions Trophy is okay.