After two rounds of the ICC Champions Trophy, all teams have now played twice and the race is hotting up to become the most valuable player in the tournament’s fantasy league.
A look at the top 10 in the rankings is instructive. Seven batsmen and three bowlers; no wicketkeepers and no all-rounders. The highest keeper is Jos Buttler in 11th, with Ben Stokes the top-ranked all-rounder in 14th place.
The multitude of batsmen is reflected in the list of the most popular picks: Virat Kohli (10.0), Joe Root (9.0), Hashim Amla (8.5), Kane Williamson (8.0) and Steve Smith (9.0), all batsmen, make up the top five, with Kohli selected in 61% of all registered teams. Kohli incidentally currently lies in 20th position, after his duck against Sri Lanka.
Kusal Mendis, Sri Lanka, BAT
The 22-year-old Jayawardena-clone was superb against India, taking the Player of the Match award with a scintillating 89. And with Sri Lanka right back in the tournament with every chance of progressing to the semi-finals, and Mendis in form at No. 3, he’s a snip at 2.0.
Hasan Ali, Pakistan, BOWL
Slippery and skiddy with a hint of reverse-swing, right-arm seamer Hasan was inspired against South Africa, taking three good wickets as he dragged Pakistan back into the tournament. Get past Sri Lanka on Monday, and suddenly they’re in the semi-finals.
Tamim Iqbal, Bangladesh, BAT
Iqbal has been unstoppable so far, hitting 128 and 95 in Bangladesh’s two games to date, with three sixes; the only obstacle in his way so far has been the weather, which wiped out Bangladesh’s match against Australia and with it the points he would have accrued from that game.
Hashim Amla, South Africa, BAT
Amla kicked off with a century at The Oval, becoming the quickest to 25 ODI hundreds in the history of the game. A reliable run-machine, he features in 33% of all entrants’ teams.
Imran Tahir, South Africa, BOWL
Tahir is never out of the game, claiming four wickets already and further burnishing his points tally with two good catches. The issue, as with Amla, is how much further South Africa will go in the tournament – lose to India on Sunday and they will be out.
Rohit Sharma, India, BAT
The graceful Sharma is in his prime as a batsman, secure as an opener and in great form. A 91 and 78, both of which could easily have been more, hints at something huge to come – as does his tally of five sixes, more than any other in the tournament. As the only man to make two ODI double hundreds in history, there’s every chance that it could happen on Sunday against South Africa.
Alex Hales, England, BAT
Here comes the English. They’re the first team to qualify, and driven by a formidable batting team spearheaded by Hales. His 95 against Bangladesh was electric as well as notably unselfish, played with no concern for the approaching century as he kept hitting through the nineties. He holds the record for England’s highest ODI score, so can go big, and should have two guaranteed games to go yet.
Liam Plunkett, England, BOWL
England’s feel-good story has eight wickets from two games, bowling fast and insistently in the middle overs and getting his rewards. He’s also useful for a flurry of lower-order runs, as England saw against New Zealand.
Shikhar Dhawan, India, BAT
India’s dasher loves this tournament. His century against Sri Lanka was his third in the ICC Champions Trophy, and with India back at The Oval again to take on South Africa. Dhawan seems well-placed and, at 6.0, excellent value to continue his outstanding form.
Joe Root, England, BAT
The runaway leader after two rounds of matches, England’s golden-boy sports an average of 197 points, with three sixes and two catches, all of which adds up to 49 more than the next man. England have two guaranteed games to come, and Root is in the form of his life. Get him in!