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England hunt elusive one-day silverware

The hosts' chances of claiming their first-ever ODI title have never looked brighter ahead of the Champions Trophy

In 42 years of trying England have never won a major global one-day international trophy but hopes are high they can finally put an end to that damning statistic as the host nation of next month's Champions Trophy.

Eoin Morgan's men have come a long way in a short space of time since a humiliating first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand saw them labelled "an analogue team in a digital age".

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Proof of their resurgence came when they posted a world record ODI score of 444 for three against Pakistan at Trent Bridge last year.

England, who once disdained the Indian Premier League, are now happy to let players miss internationals so they can extend their time in the lucrative Twenty20 event.

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In allrounder Ben Stokes they have one of the world's best, with the Durham hero paid a record AUD $2.8 million to take part before being named the tournament's most valuable player on the field as well.

And even when Stokes fails to fire, England have still been finding ways to win games - as they showed with a 72-run victory over top-ranked South Africa in the first ODI of a three-match warm-up series at Headingley on Wednesday.

A century from the powerful left-hander on Saturday against the Proteas in the second ODI to help England seal the series further underlined his class.

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"We've got the team that is capable of (winning our next seven matches)," said fellow allrounder Mooen Ali.

Their displays have been noted, with Kane Williamson, the captain of an enduringly competitive New Zealand, saying: "They are the best England one-day unit I've played against.

"The power in their batting line-up is a real strength, but it's one-day cricket and things happen that aren't expected."

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England, whose only major International Cricket Council trophy is the 2010 World Twenty20, are well aware of that point.

As if losing three World Cup finals, the last in 1992, was not bad enough, England have also been beaten in two title-deciding matches in the Champions Trophy, the 'mini World Cup', on home soil when well-placed.

In 2004, they reduced the West Indies to 8-147 chasing 218 only to suffer a two-wicket defeat.

Yet what happened at Edgbaston four years ago, in the last Champions Trophy final, was arguably even worse.

England, with some of the current squad involved, eventually needed 20 off 16 balls with six wickets in hand - an unlosable position from which they duly surrendered to India, who will be a tough proposition again under the leadership of Virat Kohli.

India celebrate their improbable 2013 Champions Trophy final win // Getty
India celebrate their improbable 2013 Champions Trophy final win // Getty

With scores of 300 barely a 'par score', bowlers could yet play a decisive role.

"No team has mastered the art of bowling at the death," South Africa coach Russell Domingo told the Sunday Times. "It's how you bowl up front and in the middle that limits the damage later."

Reigning world champions Australia boast some impressive weapons in an attack headed by left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc, while Domingo can field the likes of Morne Morkel and Kagiso Rabada.

Spin could play a part too, with India's Ravi Ashwin eager to pose problems.

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But the joy of the Champions Trophy, a sprint compared to the marathon of a World Cup, is that Pakistan and Sri Lanka will fancy their chances while Bangladesh - who knocked England out of the 2015 World Cup - could have a say in the destiny of the title.

England will look to underline just how much they have moved on from that match when they face the Tigers in the tournament opener at The Oval on Thursday.

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But thoughts about who might win were put on hold following the Manchester terror attack that killed 22 people.

The tournament, as with so much of public life in Britain, goes on with its fixtures unchanged but with no one unaffected.

"We will make this a safe, secure tournament. Don't let the terrorists have their way," said ICC anti-corruption and security chief Ronnie Flanagan.

"Sport can be a wonderfully positive influence in the face of adversity and terrorism."


Champions Trophy 2017 Guide


Squads: Every Champions Trophy squad named so far

Group A: Australia, New Zealand, England, Bangladesh.

Group B: India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Pakistan.


Schedule


Warm-up matches


26 May – Australia v Sri Lanka, The Oval

27 May – Bangladesh v Pakistan, Edgbaston

28 May – India v New Zealand, The Oval

29 May – Australia v Pakistan, Edgbaston

30 May – New Zealand v Sri Lanka, Edgbaston

30 May – Bangladesh vs India, The Oval


Tournament


1 June – England v Bangladesh, The Oval (Day)

2 June – Australia v New Zealand, Edgbaston (D)

3 June – Sri Lanka v South Africa, The Oval (D)

4 June – India v Pakistan, Edgbaston (D)

5 June – Australia v Bangladesh, The Oval (D/N)

6 June – England v New Zealand, Cardiff (D)

7 June – Pakistan v South Africa, Edgbaston (D/N)

8 June – India v Sri Lanka, The Oval (D)

9 June – New Zealand v Bangladesh, Cardiff (D)

10 June – England v Australia, Edgbaston (D)

11 June – India v South Africa, The Oval (D)

12 June – Sri Lanka v Pakistan, Cardiff (D)

14 June – First semi-final (A1 v B2), Cardiff (D)

15 June – Second semi-final (A2 v B1), Edgbaston (D)

18 June – Final, The Oval (D)


19 June – Reserve day (D)


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