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Aussies out to make their mark in England

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 31/05/2017 Ian McCullough

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since Australia last lifted the ICC Champions Trophy eight years ago in South Africa.

Captain Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson starred in that tournament as the team powered past New Zealand to win by six wickets in Centurion.

In 2013 Australia crashed out at the group stages having failed to win a game, losing to both England and Sri Lanka with rain scuppering their crucial second match against the Black Caps.

New Zealand are again the opponents in Australia's tournament opener at Edgbaston on Friday,, with skipper Steve Smith looking to emulate Ponting's achievements with an exciting side brimming with talent.

For the first time Smith will have the fearsome foursome of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson at his disposal.

Wily allrounder John Hastings, who has a wealth of experience in English conditions, offers another option in the seam attack with Glenn Maxwell, Travis Head or Adam Zampa the spin choices.

With the bat, Aaron Finch and David Warner provide firepower at the top of the order with world No.1 Test batsman Smith coming in at first drop.

But the inclusion of Chris Lynn despite having just one ODI appearance to his name is a fascinating one.

The big-hitting Queenslander's explosive talents could be the X-factor for Australia in a tournament where scores of 300 are likely to be par.

Lynn scored just 19 in his only hit-out since arriving in England in the warm-up against Sri Lanka, but enjoyed a sensational IPL campaign, averaging almost 50 for Kolkata Knight Riders.

If he can transfer that 'Lynnsanity" to the international arena, Australia could well prove to be the team to beat.

Hosts England, a side reborn in the white-ball game under former NSW coach Trevor Bayliss, enter the tournament as favourites and have just beaten world No.1 South Africa 2-1 - the Proteas' first series defeat since 2015.

Eoin Morgan's men, who meet Australia in the final group game, have never won a major 50-over ICC event but many feel this is their best chance of breaking that duck.

Bangladesh and a decent New Zealand side led by the outstanding Kane Williamson make up the rest of Group A.

India and South Africa are the favourites to progress from Group B with Pakistan and Sri Lanka looking to cause an upset.

Virat Kohli leads a vastly experienced India side that includes former skipper MS Dhoni, one of eight players who helped win the tournament four years ago.

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