As the Champions Trophy closes in, one of the most mouth-watering prospects of the tournament gets closer, seeing Australia’s pace quartet– Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Josh Hazlewood – bowl together. If these four combine, they can decimate any batting line-up that is put forth before them.
Batting naturally excites people, even the advertisements which are displayed before any tournament seem to have batsmen playing all the fancy shots. However, this time around, there was a subtle mention of Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir. While Amir hasn’t been at his best in the shorter formats since his return in the international arena, one would hardly forget his breath-taking spell against India in the 2016 T20 Asia Cup. Come 4 June, we might see one of those Amir spells again.
Till then, let’s go through the best bowling performances the Champions Trophy has ever seen:
Jacques Kallis (5/30) vs West Indies 1998, International Cup final
Nothing was going South Africa’s way, Philo Wallace continued his amazing form and smashed the Proteas all over the park. When Hanse Cronje finally dismissed him for 103 in the 35th over, West Indies’ score read 180/4, 280-300 was definitely on the cards. That’s when South Africa’s seventh bowler of the day stepped up. Yes, seventh and that was Jacques Kallis. He trapped Keith Athurton LBW, put brakes on the scoring rate and also sent Phil Simmons back to the pavilion soon. If that wasn't enough, he struck twice on successive balls in the 46th over to ensure that West Indies doesn't even cross 250, let alone 300. His bowling performance must have boosted his confidence as he scored 37 runs and grabbed not only the Man of the Match but also Man of the Series award in South Africa’s most successful ICC tournament.
Shayne O'Connor (5/46) vs Pakistan, 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy 1st semifinal
New Zealand were denied opportunities by Pakistan to proceed into the final of World Cup not once but twice in 1992 and 1999. When the Kiwis locked horns against Pakistan in the 1st semifinal of the 2000 ICC nothing seemed to have changed. Fleming's bowlers had no answer to Saeed Anwar's brilliant batting. Though they were taking wickets at regular intervals, Anwar was resolute and slammed a century in the process. However, an opening was provided by Geoff Allott who got rid of the dangerous southpaw and Shayne O'Connor cashed in. One doesn't get as much attention when he dismisses a tail, but those are the very runs that frustrate a team. He cleaned up Pakistan's lower middle-order and the tail to bundle them out for 252 and gave his side a real chance to qualify for the final. However, they went one step ahead and defeated India to win the 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy.
Glenn McGrath (5/37) vs New Zealand, 2002 ICC Champions Trophy
One wouldn’t have been wrong if they thought that this would be the match of the tournament. The World Champions were playing against the defending champions. Australia started like World Cup winners after winning the toss and opting to bat. Contributions from every batsmen ensued and they posted a mammoth 296 (It was 2002!). Many a times, umpiring howlers have cost a side the match. But how many times have we seen a simple error proving fatal?
It was the 3rd over of the second innings, and after an inconsistent start, Glenn McGrath trapped Kiwi captain Stephen Fleming LBW off the last ball. But the umpire miscounted the over and asked the Australian to bowl another delivery. Poor Lou Vincent had to pay for that as he was dismissed for a golden duck. Right then, McGrath had found his rhythm and there was no hiding for the New Zealand batsmen. Another three wickets followed and the defending champions were 51/6 in the 13th over, ‘Pigeon’ taking five of those. There was no looking back for the Aussies from there as they completed a comprehensive 164-run victory over their traditional rivals.
Farveez Maharoof (6/14) vs West Indies 2006 Champions Trophy
Only 44 overs were bowled in a 100-over contest. Brian Lara had won the toss at the Brabourne Stadium and opted to bat. The decision turned out to be disastrous. Chaminda Vaas set the tone as he struck in his very first over. But then Farveez Maharoof decided to better him.
His first wicket was Lara, as he cramped him for room and the white object rapped the southpaw on the front pad. The finger went up and the procession began. He bowled a 9-over long spell and ended up with his career best figures. The Windies were dismissed for 80 and Sri Lanka chased down the total in 13.2 overs. (Despite the heavy loss, Lara and Co recovered well, qualified for the final only to come second best to Australia.)
Ravindra Jadeja (5/36) vs West Indies 2013 Champions Trophy
West Indies were cruising, courtesy Johnson Charles. MS Dhoni tried out Ishant Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin and Virat Kohli, none of them gave him the breakthrough. That's when he introduced Ravindra Jadeja. Jadeja's overs are super-fast, you blink and there is a chance that you would miss them and he started off with a maiden. Charles didn't face a single delivery.
Darren Bravo took a single off the second ball of his second over. Two dots followed and bang, Jadeja had got his man. But it was just the start of a magnificent spell. He ended up with a five-wicket haul, his first and only ODI fifer till date, and helped India skittle out West Indies for only 233. This performance, also the best an Indian bowler had produced in Champions Trophy, helped India qualify for the semifinal of the tournament.