It is time that cricket’s second biggest event took centre stage again. The ICC Champions Trophy, after much speculation over its future, is back for its eighth edition, and the third in the British Isles. Before the 2017 tournament kicks off at The Oval where valiant hosts England will take on a bunch of talented Bangladesh team, a peep into the past is inevitable.
An entertaining list of ten matches has been compiled, and Part 1 of a two-part series of some of the best encounters witnessed in the competition is here.
#10 India vs New Zealand: Nairobi, 2000
India’s captain Sourav Ganguly had led the way with a breezing 141* in the semi-final, and the road to victory in the final had also been laid by him with a rapid 117 after his men were sent into bat by New Zealand. Solid support from Sachin Tendulkar meant India reached 141 without loss before the opposition clawed back into the game.
Two crucial run outs killed India’s momentum, as they managed only 264/6 at the end of 50 overs.
In reply, New Zealand lost half their side with 132 on the board after two strikes each by Ventakash Prasad and Anil Kumble. Then came a strong riposte from Chris Cairns and Chris Harris, which saw the Black Caps require only 11 from the last 10 deliveries after they added 122 in the most crucial stand of the tournament.
However, Prasad hit back with Harris’ wicket as India looked to clinch a win from the jaws of defeat.
But Adam Parore had other ideas as he managed eight runs from the remaining three balls of the penultimate over, six of which were astoundingly leg byes.
Ajit Agarkar had the unenviable task of defending three runs in the final over; something he failed to as Cairns got the Kiwis home, he himself finishing unbeaten on 102. The win till date remain’s New Zealand’s only ICC trophy.
#9 South Africa vs West Indies: Colombo (SSC), 2002
In only the second match of the 2002 edition, there was drama galore. South Africa were penalised for slow over rate and had to chase a manageable target in 49 overs. The top scorer for West Indies was Chris Gayle with 49, as the entire top seven failed to convert decent starts. Gayle’s opening partner Shivnarine Chanderpaul struggled with a 98-ball 45 as accurate pace bowling throughout meant West Indies jostled to drag themselves to 238/8.
The Proteas in reply were reduced to 61/3 inside 17 overs, but the chase took off following an 117-run union between Boeta Dippenaar and Jonty Rhodes, as both made half-centuries. But they departed in the same Carl Hooper over, after which Mark Boucher and the bankable finisher Lance Klusener took up the rescue job. Mervyn Dillon removed Boucher and 13 were needed in the final over, which commenced with a six from captain Shaun Pollock.
But Dillon replied with Pollock and Klusener’s wickets. With three required off the last ball, Dillon turned villain as he bowled a wide. Nicky Boje and Alan Dawson ran successfully as well. That reduced the equation to 1 from 1. Off the following delivery, number ten Dawson swung his bat and made contact with the ball which reached the fence. South Africa were thus victorious off the final delivery.
#8 India vs South Africa: Colombo (RPS), 2002
Sourav Ganguly elected to bat in India’s third consecutive semi-final in as many Champions Trophy occurrences and Virender Sehwag did justice to that decision with a fitting 59 which included ten boundaries. But India’s other batsmen fell cheaply until a stable recovery by the dependable Rahul Dravid, who joined hands with a young Yuvraj Singh in a steady stand of 72 for the fifth wicket, brought India back on track.
Yuvraj hammered the world class Allan Donald with masterful shots but skipper Shaun Pollock checked India’s flow by trapping Yuvraj for 72 late into the innings, and India ended on 261/9.
Yuvraj would later go on to make a mark on the field as well as he grabbed a stunning catch to remove Graeme Smith early, but Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis added 178 before Gibbs retired hurt to cramps after a sparkling 116.
Harbhajan Singh capitalised on that by dismissing Jonty Rhodes – caught brilliantly by Yuvraj again – and Boeta Dippenaar in the thirty-ninth over. Ganguly then introduced the part-time spin of Sehwag, who accounted for Mark Boucher in the forty-fourth over – slowing down the chase further. Kallis lacked support and South Africa eventually required 21 off 6. They managed only ten, losing Kallis and Lance Klusener, as Sehwag finished with 3/25 and took home the Man of the Match award.
#7 India vs Pakistan: Edgbaston, 2004
Arch-rivals India and Pakistan clashed in the Champions Trophy for the first time, and the match lived up to all expectations. In a low scoring thriller, Pakistan’s pace quartet reduced India to 106/6. However, Rahul Dravid’s sturdiness saw India claw their way back. The composed Dravid fell for 68 after adding 82 vital runs with Ajit Agarkar, who accumulated a hefty 47 Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Shoaib Akhtar were the destructors-in-chief, ending with four wickets apiece.
India folded up for 200 with one ball to spare but Irfan Pathan then swung the ball and the game in India’s favour as he got rid of Pakistan’s top order as they languished at 27/3. But captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and a stubborn Yousuf Youhana staged a 75-run stand to fashion Pakistan’s recovery.
India were, however, not going down without a fight. This time, Agarkar responded with the ball and picked up Inzamam; then, Abdul Razzaq and Moin Khan, the latter courtesy of a fabulous Yuvraj Singh catch, were back in the hut early.
But the game changer Shahid Afridi smoked twin sixes off Pathan, while Youhana, at the other end, maintained his poise to guide the Men in Green home. With Pakistan seven down and needing one run off six balls, Youhana completed an easy single to finish on 81* as Pakistan achieved a rare win over India in an ICC tournament.
#6 England vs West Indies: The Oval, 2004
England and West Indies have battled in three ICC tournament finals, with two being memories of a lifetime. Hosts England had reached the final by topping favourites Australia in the semis, but were on the mat at 148/6. Brian Lara had snaffled a pair of sensational catches, and later ran out centurion Marcus Trescothick, who anchored the innings after a lone fighting effort of 104. England were eventually bowled out for 217.
With a paltry target to chase down for adding the Champions Trophy to their cabinet, West Indies were left aghast at 147/8 with wicket-keeper Courtney Browne and number ten Ian Bradshaw at the crease.
Steve Harmison’s express pace and a brisk Andrew Flintoff had accounted for five wickets as England snatched two remarkable catches themselves. Michael Vaughan never brought on spinner Ashley Giles. Twelve years later, Eoin Morgan would do something similar by not introducing Moeen Ali in the World T20 final.
Vaughan, however, was left scratching his head as Browne and Bradshaw put together an amazing partnership and brought it down to 12 from 12 balls, as the batsmen sealed the deal in five deliveries. The ninth wicket never fell due to an umpiring howler, and West Indies danced to victory with two wickets and seven balls still in hand.