The 2006 edition of the tournament was hosted by India and won by the all-conquering Australians less than a year from the 2007 World Cup triumph.
Until their victory over the West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, the Champions Trophy had been the one title that had eluded the Australians. Alas, a tournament unusually dominated by the seamers in India saw them emerge victorious.
The format of the 2006 edition was different to the upcoming one, with a pre-tournament qualifier played between Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the West Indies and Zimbabwe to gain entry into the main group stage alongside the top six nations in the world. Sri Lanka and West Indies topped the qualifying group and West Indies continued their momentum right through to the final.
The tournament almost did not happen due to the Mumbai bombings in July 2006. However, it went ahead after no team withdrew from the tournament and stated they were all happy with the security measures in place.
Never far from controversy, Pakistan were forced to send their two star quicks Shoaib Akthar and Mohammad Asif home on the eve of the tournament after the pair tested positive for a banned substance. This proved to be a huge blow for Pakistan as they failed to make the semi-finals and finished dead last in their group.
In fact, not one Asian side made it out of their group, much to the surprise of everyone as it was the first time this had happened. This was partly due to the very un-Indian conditions encountered at venues in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Mohali. Instead it was Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and West Indies who qualified, all with two wins and one loss from their three group games.
Eventual winners Australia lost their first match to West Indies before comprehensive victories over England and India saw them top their group. Ponting’s side were led by Damien Martyn’s 241 runs — behind only Chris Gayle (474) and Upul Tharanga (320) — and the bowlers who restricted the opposition to below 250 in every match.
It was the legendary Glenn McGrath who led the way along with Nathan Bracken with the pair taking ten wickets each for the tournament. They received great support from all-rounder Shane Watson (eight wickets), speedster Brett Lee (six) and a young and raw Mitchell Johnson (five).
After topping their group Australia took on trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand in a do-or-die semi-final. Led by captain Ricky Ponting and hard-hitting all-rounder Andrew Symonds, who both scored 58, the Australians managed a defendable 240/9.
From then on McGrath, Lee and Bracken set to work dismantling the Black Caps top order to leave them reeling at 35/6. Jacob Oram and Daniel Vettori set about rebuilding the innings with a 103-run partnership before Oram was dismissed for 43 which all but ended the match as a contest.
Australia’s opponents in the final of the tournament were the West Indies, who had come all the way through qualifying, which included being rolled for 80 by Sri Lanka, to finish second in their group to Australia before defeating South Africa in the semi-final.
They did so on the back of Chris Gayle’s 474 runs with three hundreds, including an awesome 133 not out, to lead his side to victory over South Africa. The men from the Caribbean came into the final full of confidence having beaten Australia during the group stages and possessing the leading run-scorer and wicket-taker in their line-up, although they had played more matches.
Despite Gayle starting with a bang (37 off 27), the final was dominated by Australia. Left-armer Nathan Bracken led the way with 3/22 to lead the rout of the Calypso kings for just 138. Shane Watson and Martyn then led the chase of a 116-run target reduced by Duckworth-Lewis in just 28 overs with 57 not out and 47 not out respectively.
Following Australia’s victory, controversy ensued when Ricky Ponting landed in hot water for tapping then BCCI President Sharad Pawar on the shoulder to gesture he hand the trophy over. Pawar was then ushered off the stage by Damien Martyn as the Aussie celebrations began. While the incident wasn’t intentional, the Australians were accused of disrespecting a high-ranking official by sections of the Indian media. Pawar downplayed the issue but Ponting apologised.
It may have taken five editions of the Champions Trophy for the most dominant team of the modern era to get their hands on the one piece of silverware that had evaded them but they eventually did so in typical fashion despite the minor hiccup against the West Indies in the group stage.
Updated Date: May 29, 2017 14:37 PM