The eighth edition of the ICC Champions Trophy is scheduled to begin on June 1 in England and Wales. With India being the defending champions, the battle between the right top teams will be enthralling to watch. The tournament has already witnessed a couple of big instance with West Indies, for the first time in the history of the tournament, failed to qualify while Bangladesh return after 11 long years.

The ICC Champions Trophy is the second most coveted tournament after World Cup and holds immense esteem and prestige. Like any other major event, this will also demand precise planning and analysis fro every team as this is the battle of the champions. With the high-voltage action being just few weeks away, lets analyse and introspect the pitches, where the tournament is scheduled to be played.

The tournament will be played at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, The Oval in London and the Edgbaston Cricket Ground. Well, prior to the start of the 2015 World Cup, not many would have predicted the Australian grounds to be flat batting tracks. But runs were heavily scored throughout the tournament and the bowlers did have a tough time in putting the hard yards.

One can expect the pitches in England to be similar to the one’s that Australia produced. With the balance of the game being heavily tilted in the favour of batsmen, one can expect this tournament to produce tracks that may assist batting.

Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Also known as the SWALEC Stadium, Sophia Gardens is the home ground of Glamorgan. The first One-day International (ODI) was first played at this venue between Australia and New Zealand in May 1999. The latest ODI game at this venue was played between England and Pakistan on September 4, 2016. India holds the record for scoring highest runs on this turf, which is 337 for seven against South Africa back in June 2013.

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Out of the 19 ODI games played at this venue, 15 have concluded a result while three ended in no result along with a solitary tied game. Going by the numbers, this venue seems to be a chasing ground as teams batting second have won 11 games while the defending side have just four victories to their name. Average first innings score at this venue is 215 while the same for the second innings being 207.

The highest total recorded at this venue was 331 for 7 by India against South Africa, which was again a Champions Trophy encounter back in 2013. The lowest total too was witnessed in the previous edition of Champions Trophy by Sri Lanka against New Zealand. Pakistan hold the record for chasing the highest total of 304 for 6 at this venue against England whereas the latter also defended the lowest total 169 against New Zealand in 2013 Champions Trophy.

Going by the numbers, teams playing at this venue should opt for a run-chase as the conditions have been assisting the teams batting second. However, the track at Cardiff has also been super flat in the recent times, which means the team with more firepower in their batting stand an advantage. Also, the square boundaries here are longer than the straighter one’s. Four ICC Champions Trophy 2017 matches have been scheduled at this venue.

Edgbaston, Birmingham

One of the most famous ODI venues in England, Edgbaston as hosted as many as 53 games till date. Out of 53 games played at Edgbaston, 47 have concluded result while five ended with no results and one tied game. The first ODI game at this venue was played between England and Australia back in 1972 while the home team played Sri Lanka in June 2016, which happens to be their latest encounter here.

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This ground holds almost an even record when it comes to chasing or defending. Teams batting first have won 23 games while the chasing teams have emerged victorious on 24 occasions. One can easily say, this venue wouldn’t be a bad one for losing a toss as none of the teams would mind chasing or defending depending on what kind of a surface has been dished out. The average first innings total at this venue is 223 whereas the second innings is 180. England has scored a record 408 for 9 against New Zealand in 2015 while the lowest being 70 for 10 by Australia against England back in 1977.

Australia chased the highest total here, which was 280 against England in 1933 while India defended the lowest total of 129 against England in 2013 Champions Trophy final. But, the final of 2013 was cut down to 20 overs a side due to the incessant rains. The venue seems to be a good bowling wicket and chasing wouldn’t be a bad option as the team batting second would have an upper-hand if their bowlers exploit the conditions and manage to restrict the opposition to a modest total. Also, Edgbaston has a reputation of assisting the spinners, therefore opting for an extra spinner ahead of a pacer would come handy. This venue will host five ICC Champions Trophy 2017 matches this season.

Kennington Oval, London

The fascinating venue will witness a total number of six ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The venue has an incredible record of being a result oriented one as only a single game ended in no result till date out of 59 games. Widely reckoned for hosting the first-ever Test on English soil, the Kennington Oval has been one of the most amazing venues in International cricket. The first ODI was played between the home side and West Indies in September 1973 while the latest being England and Sri Lanka in May 2014.

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Talking about records, teams batting first have won 24 games while the chasing teams ended on the winning side on 34 times. By introspecting the numbers, one could conclude that this venue helps the chasing side a bit. The average first innings score at this venue is 246 while 213 being the average for the second innings.

The venue has seen a mind-boggling 398 for 8 being recorded by New Zealand against England in 2015. England hold the record for the lowest total of 103 against South Africa in 1999 World Cup. India have chased down a target as big as 317 against England in 2007 while Pakistan have defended the lowest total of 241 against England in 2010. As the ground has a history of generating runs, chasing would be a good option for any captain. Oval has also aided pacers along with being flat. Teams playing here should look to back their pace guns and simultaneously their batting.

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