The International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy 2013, which began on 6 June, is set to enter the knockout stage wherein the top two performers of Group A and Group B met to find a place for the final on Sunday.
Host England will take on South Africa in the 1st semi-final on Wednesday, while India will take on Sri Lanka on Thursday in the 2nd semi-final. The winners of the matches will play on Sunday for the final ICC Champions Trophy before it is replaced by the ICC World Test Championship in 2017.
The top performing teams will now enter the most crucial part of the tournament, and it can be anybody's game, but going by their performance this season, India clearly emerge as the favourite to win the trophy.
India, under the captaincy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, set off for England amid spot-fixing scandal in the domestic league - Indian Premier League - but managed to put the controversy aside and put up a good show.
After beating South Africa by 26 runs in the Tournament opener, India went on to beat West Indies and Pakistan by eight wickets apiece. They have six points on the table after convincingly winning all the three matches, and are the only undefeated team this tournament.
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Openers - Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma - became the strength of the Indian team by ensuring a good start, thus letting the middle order to play their shots freely. Dhawan scored back-to-back centuries, while Sharma scored two half centuries.
With Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, MS Dhoni and others in the line-up, India are no doubt a strong batting side.
India are not far behind other countries in bowling department too. Ravindra Jadeja has taken nine wickets in three games besides his ability to contribute runs with his bat. The performances of other bowlers like Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma have also been impressive this tournament.
It looks like IPL, which was wrapped up just a few days before the Champions Trophy began, helped India as it was like a practice session for the players. Most of the players took their good form in IPL to the Champions Trophy, helping India's cause.
Any team can beat any team on their day but for now, it's India that clearly emerge as the favourite to lift the final trophy.
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