ICC Champions Trophy : Six of the bestGaneshbabu Venkat |
The ICC Champions Trophy has been described as a tournament without context but over the years we have witnessed some classics. With a day to go before the final edition here are six of the best games from past tournaments.
Wills International Cup 1998 – Bangladesh
Preliminary quarter final, New Zealand v Zimbabwe
What essentially was a qualifier for the main event turned out to be the best game of the tournament. Zimbabwe set New Zealand a competitive target of 259 runs in 50 overs on the back of their captain Alistair Campbell’s century.
Faced with a stiff chase his Kiwi counterpart Stephen Fleming was not far behind scoring 96 to keep the chase alive. However New Zealand was always playing catch up with the mounting run rate and needed 40 off the last three overs.
The effervescent Chris Harris then tore in to debutant Neil Johnson, when he took 18 off the 48th over. 10 runs were scored in the 49th over leaving the Kiwis requiring 12 off the final over. Johnson was entrusted to bowl the crucial last over even after going for plenty. Needing three off the last ball, Harris clinched it for the Kiwis hitting Johnson for a four through extra-cover to secure an improbable, but memorable victory.
ICC Knockout 2000 – Kenya
Final, India v New Zealand
Yet again the Kiwis featured in a humdinger, this time they went one better and secured the silverware. In steaming Nairobi they ran into Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar who put on 141 runs in 26.3 overs. With that start India should have finished with much more but ended up scoring only 264 in their allotted 50, at least 40 runs short of what they would have wanted.
New Zealand scored at a brisk pace but kept losing wickets at regular intervals. With the entrance of Chris Cairns the match turned on it’s head as he resurrected the faltering chase. Chris Harris kept him company and they put on 122 runs. Chris Cairns was severe on all the Indian bowlers but he took a liking to the leggie Anil Kumble, whom he carted for a couple of big sixes, one of which landed well outside the ground. New Zealand crossed the hurdle with two balls to spare and Cairns had guided them to their first and only title in ICC events to date.
ICC Champions Trophy 2002 – Sri Lanka
Group Stage, South Africa v West Indies
In a match of fluctuating fortunes, West Indies finished with a par score of 238 with contributions from Shiv Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle who scored in the 40s with some aggressive batting by Ramnaresh Sarwan towards the end.
South Africa was left to chase 239 and they were docked an over for a slow over rate. The Proteas started slowly but lost direction when Graeme Smith was dismissed with the score at 61/2 in the 16th over. Boeta Dippenaar and Jonty Rhodes stitched together a 117 run partnership to bring them right back in to the game. They both fell to the innocuous off-spin of Hooper and the West Indies were suddenly back in the match. The game reached it’s climax when South Africa needed to score 13 from the last over. Merv Dillon dished up a full toss that was dispatched for a six by Shaun Pollock. However he made amends by claiming the wickets of Pollock and Lance Klusener. With three required from the last ball, Dillon had a brain fade and speared a leg side wide South Africa managed to scamper a bye leaving the scores level and another ball to go. Alan Dawson swung and edged the final ball for a boundary and South Africa had performed a Houdini act.
ICC Champions Trophy 2004 – England
Final, England v West Indies
England was chasing their first ICC title and West Indies were chasing their first for 25 years. Helped by a Marcus Trescothick hundred England scored a below par 217 and were dismissed two balls short of their 50 overs.
Nevertheless England defended their 217 with vigor, not one West Indian batsman stayed long and when Shiv Chanderpaul perished for 47 with the West Indies sinking to 147/8, it looked like England were home and dry. With the asking rate not too high Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne, no mugs with the bat were chipping away at the target. The defining moment came when they both refused the offer for bad light and decided to continue. The momentum had well and truly shifted from England at this point and the partnership which initially looked like a minor irritant had assumed match winning proportions. In pitch darkness Michael Vaughan brought on Steve Harmison, who had tormented the West Indies all summer, but the two Bs saw him off and even managed to score a boundary. With 12 required off the last two overs, the Bajans clinched it in style when Bradshaw wound up and hit a boundary sparking off never before seen wild celebrations at The Oval.
ICC Champions Trophy 2006 – India
Group Stage, Australia v West Indies
Not a nail biter by any stretch of the imagination, but the game was pure theater. Guided by a stubborn 90 from the late Runako Morton and a sublime 71 from the peerless Brian Lara West Indies managed to score 234 which at one stage looked impossible.
However the aggressive Adam Gilchrist and the steady Michael Clarke were threatening to run away with the game and they had brought Australia within striking distance. By this time though, there was a severe war of words between the West Indians Chris Gayle, Marlon Samuels and Michael Clarke. That confrontation seemed to have rattled the Aussies and they lost their way and started losing wickets in a heap. Gilchrist was run out and when Clarke was foxed by Bravo’s slower one, they were staring down the barrel. Jerome Taylor came back and cleaned up Micahel Hussey,Brett Lee and Brad Hogg to claim a hat-trick and the men from the Caribbean had snatched an all important victory. The war cry Gayle let out after the game showed how much the victory meant to them.
ICC Champions Trophy 2009 – South Africa
Group Stage, Australia v Pakistan
What was essentially one way traffic for 90 overs came alive during a bizarre ten over spell when Australia tried their best to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Set a modest 206 to win the game mainly due to some miserly bowling from Brett Lee, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson Australia were coasting at 140/2 when Ricky Ponting was dismissed triggering the bizarre events. Hussey was still around and at 174/4 it looked a mere formality for the Aussies. However the dismissal of Hussey set the cat among the pigeons and Pakistan began tightening the noose. Australia were bamboozled by Saeed Ajmal’s tweakers and as a result failed to score off Naved-Ul-hasan who gave away just one run in his final three overs. Australia required five runs off the final over bowled by Umar Gul who bowled superbly, bowling yorker after yorker, in the end the Aussies had to scramble for the winning run that almost ended up in a run out. They booked their place in the semis and went on to win the elusive title that evaded them for more than ten years.