The Champions Trophy’s top finishers
While there are a number of top-order batsmen who have made a name for themselves as world-class chasers the role of closing off an innings or more specifically a chase usually falls to a lower-order batsman.
They may not rack up huge numbers but these are the men who could snatch a victory with a quick-fire thirty or forty at the death of an innings in the Champions Trophy and could end up sealing the trophy for their side.
Chris Woakes (England)
Hosts England sport a powerful middle to lower order headlined by the likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler but in the event that they fail to close out a chase the onus will be on seam-bowling allrounder Chris Woakes to step up and finish the game off something he has started to do with more regularity in the last couple of years.
His unbeaten 95 that secured an unlikely tie against Sri Lanka was one of his finest efforts but more recently he played a superb knock in the West Indies to pull England out of the fire, he came to the crease with his side struggling at 124/6 but he whacked 68 not out to spare Eoin Morgan’s men’s blushes.
In matches that Woakes has featured in he has finished not out seven times in 20 second innings knocks which is more than any other batsman.
Marcus Stoinis (Australia)
While I have to confess that I was among those who questioned Marcus Stoinis’ inclusion in Australia’s ODI squad ahead of his debut he has shown impressive temperament under pressure.
Stoinis scored a remarkable hundred on debut against New Zealand and while it would prove to not be enough it showed what he could do at the death with little or no assistance.
In a strong squad he may not feature as much as he would like but he appears to be a player that has the backing of the selectors and in the absence of Mitchell Marsh could win games for the men from down under.
Colin de Grandhomme (New Zealand)
While New Zealand will no doubt lean heavily on star man Kane Williamson to score a ton of runs the fragility of their middle-order could leave the allrounders with plenty of work to do and one man who has shown the ability to whack a quick thirty-odd is Colin de Grandhomme.
His run of 34*, 34* and 32 against South Africa in the Black Caps narrow series defeat earlier this year was a prime example of a finisher doing a solid job.
His aggressive strokeplay provides an excellent balance to the nudger Mitchell Santner who often finds himself at the wicket with the burly allrounder and the Black Caps may need hsi power to get out of a tough group that includes England and Australia.
Bangladesh’s relatively long tail means that they will often rely on number five Shakib-al-Hasan to perform the role of finisher rather than those who bat from 6 to 9 in the order.
Perhaps the first true superstar the Tiger’s can sport Shakib is likely to find himself trying to pull Bangladesh out of trouble in what is the tougher of the two groups especially for an Asian side.
He hasn’t closed out an innings efficiently since his unbeaten 51 saw Bangladesh beat India in Dhaka in 2015 but the Tigers will need him to be on song if they are to cause any upsets.
Andile Phehlukwayo (South Africa)
The young Protea allrounder Andile Phehlukwayo has given the impression that he has ice water in his veins in his short ODI career.
Despite having a highest score of just 42 his knack of ending not out, he has been dismissed just once in ODI cricket, has inflated his average to an incredible 125.00 from six innings.
He was incredibly cool under pressure in the first ODI against New Zealand at Seddon Park earlier this year and hit critical boundaries in an innings of 29 not out when AB de Villiers was struggling to get the ball off the square.
Much is expected of the 21-year-old but he most definitely has the ability to deliver.
Imad Wasim (Pakistan)
On their last visit to England in ODI cricket allrounder Imad Wasim was one of the few players to enhance their reputation ending the series without being dismissed and with two half centuries to his name.
He typically bats at 7 or 8 and is often the last recognized batsman with Pakistan’s lack of top allrounders forcing them to sport a long tail.
With an average of 42.33 and a strike-rate hovering at around a run a ball he has shown an ability to close out innings on a number of occasions though Pakistan will surely not want to leave him with too much to do.
Hardik Pandya (India)
We are expecting to be slammed by an army of MS Dhoni fans for putting Hardik Pandya down as India’s finisher but we’d like the doubters to cast their minds back to January 15.
On that day India chased down 350 to beat England in Pune with memorable centuries recorded by Virat Kohli and Kedhar Jadhav but the man who finally got them over the line was Hardik with an unbeaten 40.
With Dhoni’s incredible power to take the game deep and get the job done seemingly on the wane there are few players in the India set up better equipped to get them over the line in a pinch than the 23-year-old allrounder from Gujarat.
Asela Gunaratne (Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka are a nation that could do with forgetting their recent form in ODI cricket but one man stood out for them during their woeful series in South Africa, the personification of brave lone-hands Asela Gunaratne.
His maiden ODI hundred at Centurion caused a little flutter of nervousness in a game Sri Lanka never looked like winning.
Gunaratne has the ability to both rotate the strike and clear the boundary rope if necessary but he will be hoping that he doesn’t find himself at the wicket too early in a batting lineup that has struggled for form.
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