ICC Champions Trophy Preview: Australia's Bowling Arsenal Ready To Fire

Against the backdrop of a troubling pay dispute, Australia will take part in the Champions Trophy tournament in England over the coming fortnight.

Often dubbed the ‘mini World Cup’, this ODI event will be played for the first time in four years having originally been destined for the scrapheap.

Steve Smith’s side, two time winners of the event, have landed in arguably the weaker of the two groups and will take on their biggest rivals, England and New Zealand, plus the improving Bangladesh.

The selectors have named a strong squad with plenty of star power and versatility, although their continued support for Aaron Finch (pictured above) certainly raised a few eyebrows.

The Victorian answered his critics with a ton in the warm-up fixture against the Sri Lankans though, and appears set to partner David Warner at the top of the order.

Travis Head has impressed in brief appearances for his country and will likely fill a spot in the middle order with the enigmatic Glenn Maxwell.

The squad also contains six-king Chris Lynn, whose ODI career for his country has been limited to the lone match against Pakistan owing to shoulder problems.

Pitch and overhead conditions will surely determine Australia’s fate with our batting line-up having an ‘all or bust’ feel to it.

If the likes of Warner (who topped the runcharts in the just-completed IPL) and Lynn tee off in benign conditions then scores of 400 are within reach.

Outside of Smith (pictured above) though, who in there do you trust to battle through tough conditions with the ball swinging or nipping around off the deck?

As always, our bowling attack looks strong with Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood certain to trouble top order opposition, while Pat Cummins (pictured below) made a successful international return in India.

Against the grain, Cummins was the most economical of our bowlers against the Lankans and will likely be used as a first change option here to control the tempo.

With James Pattinson also included, there’s a possibility that we'll go in with four specialist quicks and one of three allrounders (Hastings, Henriques or Stoinis) with Head for slow bowling support.

Adam Zampa is the lone spinner in the line-up but with two of our pool matches played in Birmingham, a venue that can aid the quicker men, he may be left to carry the drinks.

The Verdict

All things considered, I can envisage Australia getting through this group and taking on either the Indians or South Africans in the semi-finals for a place in The Oval decider on June 18 (AEDT).

I’m predicting the Australians to be beaten semi-finalists with the Indians winning the final. 

Unibet Odds: England (3.50), Australia (4.00), South Africa (5.00), India (5.50), New Zealand (10.00), Pakistan (17.00), Sri Lanka (34.00), Bangladesh (41.00)

Tip: India

Series tips:

Top Australian Batsman: Steve Smith (10.00)

Top Australian Bowler: Josh Hazlewood (21.00) 

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