ICC Trophy - Group Stages Roundup

Tuesday, September 21 2004

Rain throughout, lopsided at the start and drama at the end. This year's Chapions Trophy preliminary round had all the makings of an exciting tournament... if not (at times) for the rain and the thrashings. Yes, there were no surprises by the 'minnows' this time around. Kenya and Bangladesh folded meekly in their two games, Zimbabwe fought but fell well short and the United States of America were never really in with a prayer.

With that well in mind and Astle in the zone, New Zealand dealt with the USA by 210 runs. Astle's unbeaten 145 featured 13 fours and 6 sixes and set up 347/4 in 50 overs, before the Kiwis bowled out the Americans for 137. Former West Indies opener and veteran batsman, Clayton Lambert scored a gritty 39, but he and his team never really showed any real attack of the target after collapsing from 52/0 from 9 overs. Allrounder Jacob Oram began his series superbly, snaring 5 for 36 from his 9.4 overs.

Elsewhere in England, the host nation took on the embattled Zimbabwe and were met with the first significant rains of the tournament. The weather cast the game into the reserve day, when Paul Collingwood's 80 not out combined with Harmison (3/29) and Flintoff (3/11) to be too much for Zimbabwe, and England cantered home by 152 runs. At Southampton, India were registering their points against Kenya. This as Harbhajan Singh put the Kenyans in a spin with 3/33 after Ganguly (90) and some lusty late hitting by Kaif (49 not out off 29 balls) and Dravid (30 not out off 22 balls) helped India to 291. India was triumphant by 98 runs, but Kenya's Maurice Ouma (49), Brijal Patel (40 not out) and Ravindu Shah (33) showed some fight.

Two days and three games in the bag, the scene shifted to Pool B and Edgbaston, where South Africa ripped through the Bangladeshi batting and then chased the 94 needed to win in 17.5 overs with 9 wickets intact. Charl Langeveldt (3/17), Makhaya Ntini (3/19) and Nicky Boje (3/23) were all among the wickets and Nafis Iqbal (40) was the only batsman among the runs in Bangladesh's week effort. The next day, the featured meeting was the most mismatched of tournament and perhaps in history, seeing the Australian juggernaut boosting their net run rate with a 9-wicket crushing of the United States. Bowled out for 65, primarily by Kasprowicz (4/14) and Gillespie (4/15), the minnows had no chance of being competitive and surrendered the runs in 7.5 overs. However, they did take some small reward in the wicket of Matthew Hayden for 23.

By the time Tuesday came around, there had been no surprises in the Champions Trophy schedule and Sri Lanka looked to maintain that streak against Zimababwe. Young Zimbabwean allrounder, E____ Chigumbra (57 and 3/37) would ensure some genuine effort be placed into that task, but ultimately the Sri Lankans got home by 4 wickets. The other match of the day was rain-affected and Pakistan was made to wait until the following day to demolish Kenya by 7 wickets. The Kenyans, after a mid-innings delay for rain, tumbled from 67/1 to the legbreaks of Shahid Afridi (5/11) and were bowled out for a less than competitive 94.

Seven games down and five to go and the scene shifted back to the Rose Bowl in Southampton. The West Indies played their first game, against Bangladesh and took the honours by 138 runs with relative ease. Openers Chris Gayle (99) and Wavell Hinds (82) formed the highest partnership for any wicket against Bangladesh - 192 - and then Mervyn Dillon took 5/29 in the victory. That game represented the final bit of 'minnow' involvement in the 2004 Champions Trophy and the excitement built as effectively the quarterfinal round was to begin.

First to the table - Australia versus New Zealand. This classic rivalry was once more resumed and it looked to have produced cracker of a game when New Zealand got to 30/0 in the 7th over. That's when McGrath set in to remove Astle (18), Marshall (0) and Styris (0) and start a slide that would send the score to 89/7. Kasprowicz also claimed 3 wickets (3/32), but the Kiwis recovered to the decency of 198, due in large part to Brendom McCullum's 47. Now with something to bowl at, New Zealand quickly pulled the match to interest with the wickets of Gilchrist (4) then Ponting (14) - 49/2. Alas, the Australians showed why they are the reigning World Champions and stole victory in the 38th over. Andrew Symonds was the ruthless catalyst, scoring 71 not out off 47 balls with 4 sixe and 7 fours, whilst the reliable Damien Martyn was also there at the end with 60.

With the knowledge of Australia having booked a semifinal spot, England prepared to tackle Sri Lanka for the right to face them. Both teams entered in superb One Day form and things were shaping up evenly when the rains came once more. England was forced back on the reserve day, resuming at 118/3 and quickly faltering to 123/4. Yet such are the situations that Flintoff has made his own over the last year. This time was no different and Andrew Flintoff scored a 91-ball 104 in England's 251/7. In the chase it was Freddie's time again, taking 2/21 to complement Steve Harmison's like haul and set Sri Lanka to 95/5 when the weather forced a result. England, winners by 49 runs on the D/L method, advanced to meet Australia in the semi-final round.

Whilst for the England/Sri Lanka game it was a reserve day, at the Oval for the West Indies and South Africa, the cricket was now beginning on that Saturday morning. Unlike England and Sri Lanka, both these teams came into the tournament with horrible form at their backs and the West Indies with the devastation of hurricane Ivan on their minds as well. Such were the ingredients for a keen contest. Herschelle Gibbs (101) made good on his earlier promise to find form against his Caribbean opponents, but his team was restricted well to just 246/6 after starting 102/0. Chris Gayle (3/50) was the star with the ball, but his efforts with the bat were made to wait as rain took the game into Sunday.

That Sunday turned out to be the most classically exciting day of the series, as many thought it would. Indeed, the schedule read that Pakistan and India would meet each other, always an instant classic. While that game tossed off and Pakistan thrust India back at 28/3, the West Indies resumed their chase of 247 against South Africa. Gayle and Hinds were quick victms of Pollock, but Sarwan (75) and Lara (49) rebuilt with a 98-run stand. Runscoring was extremely difficult and timing was scarce, but Sarwan stuck about long enough to add some momentum with 3 sixes toward the end of his innings. Still, over 7 runs per over were required. Enter Chanderpaul, who stuck in for 51 off 52 balls and anchored an eventual 5-wicket West Indian win.

Back over to Edgbaston, where Pakistan finished off India for 200, but only so much because of the determined batting of Rahul Dravid (67) and Ajit Agarkar (47). Shoaib Akhtar (4/36) and Naved-ul-Hasan (4/25) were the destroyers, but India's recovery from 73/5 ensured the game stayed alive until the finish. Pakistan set out to score the 201 required, then the phenom that is Irfan Pathan quickly set in and dismissed Farhat (0), Malik (4) and Hameed (15) - 27/3. Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana batted together and carried the total to 102 when the former was out. In his innings of 41, Inzamam became the second man in ODI history to score 10,000 career runs, but more important things were on the mind, no less when his team soon slipped to 152/6.

Enter Shahid Afridi. A whirlwind knock of 25 off 12 balls later and Pakistan needed just 3 runs per over for victory. The star throughout was Youhana though. The righthander with an unbeaten score of 81 in steered Pakistan to a 3-wicket win.

After nine days of cricket and twelve games, the semi-final round is set.
England versus rivals Australia and Pakistan against the West Indies. We are assured of a new winner of the Champions Trophy, seeing as all four previos winners (South Africa, New Zealand, India/Sri Lanka) have been knocked out. Australia will be looking for the acclaim to go with their World Cup victory of 2003 and the West Indies will be searching for redemption from a miserable year to date. Of the others, Pakistan and England both have points to prove as resurgent teams on the way up in world cricket.

At the end of it all, whoever wins, there will be no losers. Indeed, surely cricket will be the winner.

Match Summary:

1st Game - England vs Zimbabwe
England won by 152 runs

2nd Game - New Zealand v USA
New Zealand won by 210 runs

3rd Game - India vs Kenya
India won by 98 runs

4th Game - South Africa vs Bangladesh
South Africa won by 9 wickets

5th Game - Australia vs USA
Australia won by 9 wickets

6th Game - Sri Lanka vs Zimbabwe
Sri Lanka won by 4 wickets

7th Game - Pakistan vs Kenya
Pakistan won by 7 wickets

8th Game - West Indies vs Bangladesh
West Indies won by 138 runs

9th Game - Australia vs New Zealand
Australia won by 7 wickets

10th Game - England vs Sri Lanka
England won by 49 runs (D/L)

11th Game - West Indies vs South Africa
West Indies won by 5 wickets

12th Game - Pakistan vs India
Pakistan won by 3 wickets

Statistics Toppers

Most runs: 163 - NJ Astle (NZ)
Most wickets: 7 - MS Kasprowicz (Aus)
Highest individual score: 145 - NJ Astle (NZ)
Best bowling: 5/11 - Shahid Afridi (Pak)

Posted by Liam