With eight of the top ODI countries in the world competing at the ICC Champions Trophy, you could argue there isn't a single match you'll be okay skipping over. The competition promises to be fierce.
But that doesn't mean there aren't a few matches in particular that must be seen above all else. Whether it be contests between traditional rivals or simply huge matches with semifinal qualification implications, the following three contests should be special.
Let's take a closer look at those three, along with a full table of the tournament's remaining fixtures.
India vs. Pakistan
Um, can you say rivalry?
It's no secret that India versus Pakistan in cricket is arguably the biggest sporting rivalry in the world. But with this game coming in the final match of the group stage for each team, the stakes may be far higher than simple bragging rights, as this match could determine which country moves to the semifinals.
India already has a win under its belt, beating South Africa, while Pakistan lost to the West Indies. Interestingly, in two previous meetings in this tournament, Pakistan has swept its rivals. That contradicts its rivalry in the Cricket World Cup, where India is 7-0-1.
Expect this match to be intense.
Australia vs. New Zealand
The second part of the "Um, can you say rivalry?" series. It may not be quite as intense as India and Pakistan, but it too will be an intense encounter.
Of course, if you are a betting man, history suggests you should probably side with Australia. From Andrew Alderson of The New Zealand Herald:
Making it more intriguing is New Zealand's record against Australia in ODIs at neutral venues—one win from 18 matches over more than 25 years. It was a significant win, at Cardiff in 1999 against a side that went on to win the World Cup.
Many, including this writer, have warbled on about Australian vulnerability, only to be embarrassed.
Well then, you won't find any anti-Australian warbling here. This will be a crucial match for both countries, as a loss could seriously jeopardize a semifinals bid.
India vs. West Indies
With both teams winning their first matches in group play, the winner here would almost assuredly earn its way into the semifinals.
The two sides won very different matches. While West Indies started the tournament with an enthralling, tight win in a low-scoring affair behind strong performances from its bowlers, India eclipsed 300 points led by Shikhar Dhawan's century. It was an impressive win by India over South Africa, and was certainly more convincing than the 26-run margin would suggest.
India will certainly be the favorite, but West Indies is not to be underestimated. This is a team that can keep pace with India on its best day, and with a chance for both teams to take control of this group, I expect an excellent match.
Below is the full table of remaining fixtures:
|Date and Time||Group, Matchup and Location|
|Sunday, June 9 at 5:30 a.m. ET||Group A: New Zealand vs. Sri Lanka at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Monday, June 10 at 8 a.m. ET||Group B: Pakistan vs. South Africa, Edgbaston at Birmingham|
|Tuesday, June 11 at 5:30 a.m. ET ||Group B: India vs. West Indies at Kennington Oval, London|
|Wednesday, June 12 at 5:30 a.m. ET||Group A: Australia vs. New Zealand at Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|Thursday, June 13 at 8 a.m. ET ||Group A: England vs. Sri Lanka at Kennington Oval, London|
|Friday, June 14 at 5:30 a.m. ET||Group B: South Africa vs. West Indies at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Saturday, June 15 at 5:30 a.m. ET ||Group B: India vs. Pakistan at Edgbaston, Birmingham|
|Sunday, June 16 at 5:30 a.m. ET ||Group A: England vs. New Zealand at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Monday, June 17 at 8 a.m. ET ||Group A: Australia vs. Sri Lanka at Kennington Oval, London|
|Wednesday, June 19 at 5:30 a.m. ET||Semifinal (TBD) at Kennington Oval, London|
|Thursday, June 20 at 5:30 a.m. ET ||Semifinal (TBC) at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff|
|Sunday, June 23 at 5:30 a.m. ET ||Final (TBD) at Edgbaston, Birmingham|