The 2017 ICC Champions Trophy will kick off on Thursday as the eight best ODI teams in the world battle it out in England and Wales.
The final will take place on June 18 at the iconic Oval in London, and South Africa enter the tournament as the top-ranked nation and among the favourites to win the title. Defending champions India are ranked third, with Australia in second place.
The full schedule for the tournament can be found here. Every match of the group stages will be broadcast on Sky Sports 2, with the knockout round shown on Sky Sports 1. For live-stream options, click here.
Both India and Australia have impressed in their warm-up matches, with the Aussies beating Sri Lanka before their match against Pakistan was rained out, and the Indians earning wins over Bangladesh and New Zealand.
Led by Virat Kohli, India will relish the opportunity to defend their title, but with the Indian Premier League season having finished less than two weeks ago, fatigue is a major factor. They can't afford a slow start, as their first match will be against bitter rivals Pakistan.
As shared by the ICC, Kohli looked as fresh as ever in the win over the Black Caps, however:
🎥 Relive @imVkohli's stylish 50 in India's #CT17 warm-up win! 🇮🇳 #IndvNZ https://t.co/Z0NYq72xQb2017-5-29 06:30:01
South Africa are the favourites to advance from Group B with India and start their campaign against Sri Lanka. The Proteas haven't won an ICC tournament since the first iteration of the Champions Trophy in 1998, but based on their talent level alone, it's easy to see why they're expected to buck that trend.
Between AB de Villiers, Hashim Amla, Quinton de Kock, Faf du Plessis, David Miller and a host of others, South Africa boast an embarrassment of riches.
The team struggled against England in their recent series, however, underlining how far England have come in one-day cricket. The hosts have long lagged behind in the shorter formats, but since the 2016 Twenty20 World Cup, there has been an air of positivity surrounding the side.
Joe Root, Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes have to be considered world-class players at this point, and the advantage of playing at home cannot be underestimated. Per Umang Pabari of Firstpost.com, they've done well in the tournament when hosting:
Umang Pabari @UPStatsman
England in ICC CT: Hosted in 2004, reached in finals (runner-up) Hosted in 2013, reached in finals (runner-up) Hosting in 2017, ? @bbctms2017-5-30 17:34:51
They'll be joined by Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh in Group A. The Aussies have an impressive group of pace bowlers and have excellent balance with the bat, thanks to the likes of Steven Smith, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques.
The Black Caps boast as explosive a batting lineup as anyone, providing they get their order right. The likes of Martin Guptill and Kane Williamson don't need an introduction, but finding a reliable opener for the former could mean the difference between an early exit or an appearance in the final.