The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 saw some remarkable performances by a lot of champion performers. However, there were a few players, who, despite not having the baggage of expectations on them, went on to surprise everyone by their scintillating efforts in the tournament.
Here is a look at 5 emerging players of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017:
Hasan Ali (Pakistan):
He was clearly the player of the tournament by a significant distance. Throughout its cricketing history, Pakistan has had a knack of producing top quality fast bowlers literally out of the blue. Every year we see some terrific yet hitherto unknown pacer making his way into the Pakistan squad. This Champions Trophy, it was Hasan Ali’s turn. Not even a year old in international cricket, Hasan Ali made an impression in the first match he played against India.
On a flat wicket, he bowled with great control and ever since that game he went from strength to strength and evolved as Pakistan’s match-winning champion. While he did not have great pace, the 23-year-old moved the ball off the pitch regularly and troubled the best with his nagging lengths. Hasan ended up with 13 wickets from 5 matches – the most in the tournament – and his wicket-taking bowling was one of the chief reasons for Pakistan’s title-clinching performance in the tournament.
Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan):
Pakistan hasn’t produced an exciting batting prospect in a long time. Their drought finally ended with Fakhar Zaman’s sensational performance in the Champions Trophy 2017. Making his debut in this high-profile event must not have been easy. But the left-handed opener showed immense fortitude in his very first game against South Africa where he scored a composed 31. After getting the confidence to survive at the big stage, Fakhar then struck a fluent 50 against Sri Lanka and followed it up with a superb 57 in Pakistan’s semi-final match against England.
He, however, saved his best for the last. In the Champions Trophy final against India, Fakhar, after having being dismissed off a no-ball, oozed class and dominated the Indian bowlers with great control to score a match-winning 114. Fakhar ended the tournament with a whopping 252 runs from just 4 matches at a superb average of 63. Clearly, he is one for the future.
Junaid Khan (Pakistan):
After having been left out in the first match against India, Pakistan’s Junaid Khan made a fantastic comeback to the team and ended up as the third-highest wicket-taker of the tournament. The left-arm fast bowler was absolutely incredible with his swing and seam in these docile pitches and picked up wickets regularly. An attacking bowler, who is always at the stumps, Junaid bowled a steady line and generated good pace with accuracy. The 27-year-old’s 3-40 against Sri Lanka in an important knockout game proved vital for Pakistan’s eventual victory. Junaid ended the tournament with 8 wickers from 4 matches at an excellent average of 19.37 and an economy of 4.58.
Mark Wood (England):
Although he took just 5 wickets in 4 matches in this Champions Trophy, Mark Wood of England still left everyone impressed with his variations and ability to bowl miserly in pressure situations. Wood emerged as a death-over specialist for England and with his slower ones, cutters and yorkers, did not allow the batsmen to get away. Wood bowled with an economy rate of just 4.32 – the second best in the tournament – and was one of the reasons why England went to the semi-finals unbeaten.
Wood’s outstanding match-winning spell of 4-33 against Australia at Edgbaston, Birmingham was one of the finest bowling performances in the tournament and was the best spell of the match that helped England restrict the opposition for a modest score. What stood out about him was that despite the conditions not being in his favor, Wood bowled his heart out and was absolutely fearless in his approach. Rather than looking to restrict the run flow, like most limited overs bowlers do these days, Wood was always trying to outfox the batsman and that makes him a genuine future prospect for England.
Hardik Pandya (India):
Prior to this Champions Trophy, there were some doubts about Hardik Pandya’s reliability as an ODI all-rounder. He was being seen as a bits and pieces cricketer who could succeed only in the T20 format. However, Hardik excelled in the Champions Trophy for India and has provided the team with a genuine option of being an all-rounder, who can turn games around. Although very scrawny to look at, Hardik is one hell of a striker and he displayed that in India’s first match against Pakistan in the tournament where he smashed Imad Wasim for three consecutive sixes in the last over of India’s innings.
Pandya then got to display his batting prowess in the final at the Oval against the same opposition. While the entire team crumbled around him, Hardik smashed a stunning 76 off 43 balls with 6 sixes and 4 fours. In the entire tournament, however, he smashed a record 10 sixes – three more than the second placed Eoin Morgan with 7 sixes. With the ball too Hardik was quite good with some good slower ones and cutters. He deceived the batsmen and picked up some key wickets throughout. While he still is a long way away from being a genuine all-rounder, Hardik has shown glimpses in this Champions Trophy that he can be trusted for that role.