With the prestigious ICC Champions Trophy around the corner, the writers at Cricingif list down their favourite moments from the previous editions of the eight-team tournament.
There isn’t a single moment from the Champions’ Trophy rather boring and miserable history that I have any recollection of. Unlike the World Cup or the WT20, which instantly became iconic in their first edition, the Champions’ Trophy never really earned any interest over its tenure.
It’s not easy to understand why - the first four editions saw wins for eternal chokers South Africa, eternal bridesmaids New Zealand and the long-trophyless West Indies, with the other final being the only washout in ICC tournament history. Certainly plenty of interesting things to potentially have an attachment to, yet two decades after its inception only the magical Caribbean chase in the 2004 final (recounted later on below by Anam Nadeem) has any place in cricket fans’ mythology.
If I really have to pick a moment, it might be the sight of Sharad Powar (then ICC head-honcho) being pushed off the stage by the celebrating Australians after winning one of the many forgotten CT finals.
The match in question was Pakistan versus India during the 2004 edition of the ICC Champions Trophy. Shahid Afridi walked in at the crease during the defining phase of a low-scoring match that had swung like a pendulum for the past 90 overs. With 49 required of the final 58 deliveries, in the pursuit of a meagre 201, Pakistan lost Moin Khan (6 for 152) thanks to a splendid catch by Yuvraj Singh at backward point.
In came the flamboyant batsman at number eight, and steered the ball through the covers for a single. He would continue to rely on the ones and twos until Irfan Pathan, whose first spell accounted for Pakistan’s top-order, returned for his second spell. Up till then, Pakistan’s batsmen had put up an abysmal show (save Inzamam-ul-Haq (41) and Yousuf Youhana (81)) making the chase of 201 look insurmountable.
With the match stuck, Afridi, who blasted his way to 25 off 12 balls, pulled Pathan for a six over deep square-leg and hoisted the left-armer for another one the next ball over long-on. Pakistan needed 27 off 45 balls now. He would pull Pathan for a four on the first ball of his next over that allowed Youhana to take Pakistan home with four balls to spare.
Oct 18, 2006 - In the 2006 match between West Indies and Australia, the all-conquering Aussies needed 21 in 14 balls with four wickets in hand and of all batsmen, Mr. Cricket was on strike. What may have seemed an uncomplicated game for the Aussies was yet to witness a Jamaican intervention.
Jerome Taylor charged in from around the wicket and sent a full ball down on off-stump that clocked in at 138.1 kph. Hussey played across the line in frustration, and no sound was heard as the ball passed the slanted Kookaburra blade. Timber! Jerome Taylor was off in celebration, just as the crowds erupted in the aisles!
Next in to bat was the embodiment of terror for all batsmen in world cricket, only to taste a bit of his own medicine. With 21 required now off 13, a pumped up Taylor returned over the wicket now, with Brett Lee keeping his eyes wide open, intently looking at the discoloured white ball. Pitching it on just about off-stump, it nipped back in at 143.3 kph, too quick for Lee to get his bat down in time. The West Indians on the ground and in the crowd appealed loudly, as the deathly slow left arm of Rudy Koertzen rose to sentence Lee to a first ball dismissal. End of the 48th over, 21 to win off 12.
A stellar 49th over meant that Australia now required 16 runs off 6 balls. Again, Taylor came from around the wicket as Brad Hogg tapped his bat twice, sticking his tongue out as he always did. The hat-trick ball rocketed in at 142.4 kph, full on middle as Hogg walked across his stumps to whip it over fine-leg. The ball clattered into middle and leg stump, and the West Indian players converged on Taylor with that mystical, expressionless yet elated celebration so peculiar to those from the Caribbean! Jerome Taylor became the first West Indian to take a hat-trick in ODI cricket, and that too at 22 years of age. West Indies went on to win the game by 10 runs.
So this match was around about when I had just started following cricket, and after the high of the Natwest series win for India against England, I was so confident the team could do well in the Champions’ Trophy as well.
As I had hoped, India’s batting clicked throughout the tournament and by the end we were facing South Africa for a spot in the final. Chasing a par score, the Proteas had cruised to a great start. With 17 overs to go, South Africa needed to score at 4.88 runs per over with 9 wickets in hand. As expected Indian fans were getting a sinking feeling, but slowly and steadily things started going India’s way.
Herschelle Gibbs, who was in no mood to get out, had to retire hurt with South Africa still 70 runs away. Given the wickets in hand it still looked like South Africa were ahead in the game. Then something else happened - the dreaded choke.
South Africa lost three batsmen (Gibbs, Jonty Rhodes & Boeta Dippenar) for 2 runs. The wicket pressure was now getting to the chasing side, and the slowness of the pitch meant India could put on their spinners and ensure the choke continued. Some good fielding from Yuvraj, some good bowling from Sehwag (3 wickets in 5 overs) and some smart captaincy from Ganguly saw India secure a 10 run win and secure a place in the final.
West Indies made it to the Final of the Champions Trophy 2004 by annihilating Pakistan in the semi-final. Now all they had to do was beat England in England to win their first international tournament in 25 years.
With my team on the way back home my interest in the final had dropped considerably. But the ardent cricket fan in me did end up watching the Final, and it totally paid off. Things became interesting when the West Indian bowlers did everything right to restrict the hosts for just 217 runs. At that point it seemed like it would be a walk in the park for the Windies batsmen but we had seen them falter many a times before.
Our fears were confirmed as the inevitable happened: Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff ripped through the West Indian lineup, and the Windies were 147/8 when Shivnarine Chanderpaul fell. England knew this was it - surely they could NOT lose from here. But no one told this to Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne who were about to write their own script and bat themselves into the hearts of cricket fans forever.
These two spirited knights stood tall, faced the music and countered the fading light. With each ball they faced, they simply made us all fall in love with them. Bradshaw and Browne featured in a mind-boggling, unbeaten 9th wicket stand of 71 runs. Bradshaw hit the winning runs in the second last over of the match and the joyous celebrations that followed were a sight for sore eyes. The B & B show at the Oval will always remain one of my most cherished memories of the Champions Trophy.
I love that start-of-tournament feeling - all that possibility; the march towards glory. Couple that possibility with a classic middle-range scoring ODI featuring an Abdul Razzaq finish, and we have a classic on our hands.
To start, let’s throw in some quintessential 2000s drama for maximum effect: losing the steadying hand of captain Inzamam ul Haq before the tournament and two premier pacers (Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Asif) banned for failing doping tests on the eve of the match. With the reluctant captain, Younis Khan at the helm, this was a loaded victory: the start of a tournament where the odds were stacked against them. Then there was the actual game. Containing that Sri Lankan team was no less than a major feat, given the depleted Pakistan bowling attack and a formidable Sri Lankan batting order. It was a team bowling effort, especially after some solid partnerships at the start between Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga and then Mahela Jayawardene and Tharanga. However Pakistan, through sheer grit, containment by the spinners and handy wickets by Razzaq made a game out of it.
What makes it my pick for one of the best moments is the run chase: a good start, a wobble steadied by Mohammad Yousuf and then to end it Razzaq walks in with 53 needed from 47 balls. It was Razzaq’s day so he decided to finish it off with a six and 11 balls to spare. No big deal.
Then there was relief. Pakistan once again proved that some clichés are true, at a time when we needed them to be. The more challenges you throw at this team, the more they come out fighting. It’s ironic that we went on to lose every other match in this tournament. Which coincidentally, is another cliche.
It is a typically gloomy September day in Southampton and the Pakistani team had kept up its tradition of deepening the doom and gloom for us by getting out for a paltry 131 against the collective might and terror of Colin Collymore, Ian Bradshaw, Wavell Hinds and Darren Bravo.
There was an air of inevitability about the chase even before it begun and even Shoaib Akhtar, our one-man army, could do little to change the course of the game although he sent both openers back with the score at a mere 20. Sarwan was in the form of his life and was now joined at the crease by his captain, the inimitable Brian Lara - who as was his wont started smoking everything in sight through the covers and brutally cutting anything short. He was going at a breakneck pace (strike rate: 106.8) and ensuring that West Indies decimated Pakistan and reached the final of the 2004 Champions Trophy in double quick time.
But then our madman returns. As he hurtles in you could feel your heart racing and what happened next provided you with a visceral pleasure that your compassionate and sensible side chides you for, but honestly is there a better sight in cricket than a batsman in his prime being felled by a thunderbolt from a fiery quick?
Shoaib pitched a 92 mile rocket just short of a length; Lara tried to get out of the way in the microsecond that he had to react, failed and was down and out. Sarwan and Chanderpaul ensured that the West Indies get across the line, and the incident has no bearing on the ultimate result but that moment of pure brutality has remained etched in my memory at least.
There have been 24 ICC Trophy finals till date. None of them was played more than once except one. None of them has been shared except one. This one of a kind final was the ICC Champions Trophy 2002 Final between Sri Lanka and India.
The first attempt at staging the match was interrupted by rain in the second over of the second innings. Sri Lanka batted first and posted a total of 244/5 owing to half-centuries from captain Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara. India started their reply with confidence but the match ended in a no-result due to heavy rains in Colombo after only two overs into the second innings.
ICC rules, at that time, enabled teams to start important matches again on a reserve day so Sri Lanka and India tried again on the next day, Monday, to decide a definitive winner. Sri Lanka batted first again, posting only 222/7 this time. Mahela Jayawardene was the top-scorer with his 77 runs. India had completed their 8 overs with the loss of one wicket during the chase when the rain returned and the game had to be declared a no-result due to no further play.
The ICC rules at that time stated that: A minimum of 25 overs should be bowled in the second innings to decide a winner in a rain-affected game. This rule received heavy criticism from former cricketers and cricket analysts from around the world. ICC has revised this rule for each team to face at least 20 overs to decide a winner using the DLS method.
Sri Lanka and India were made to share the ICC Champions Trophy 2002 and the prize money. What fascinates me still that this will be the only tournament in history of cricket where two teams remained unbeaten throughout the tournament and after the final.