Cricket is a weird sport. There are many things about the sport that one does not quite grasp. How and why were the winners of a 50-over tournament going to be decided by a Twenty20 match is one of them. ICC didn’t think that a reserve day was needed for the final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. But what Ishant Sharma did in the 18th over of the second innings is something he and Alastair Cook’s England will never forget. They shouldn’t have lost the match from that position.
In fact, Cook went onto say that if it was a 50-over game, his side would’ve won it easily. Would that have happened? We would never know. However having said that, it was a match that will be remain as one of the most classics of the ICC Champions Trophy.
With the tournament only a couple of weeks away, let’s look at the best five matches in the history of the Champions Trophy:
South Africa vs West Indies, 1998 International Cup Final
The idea behind the ‘Mini World Cup’ was to raise funds for the development of the sport. A few venues were discussed before Bangladesh was given the mandate to host it. Even though the hosts were not allowed to play it, the tournament was a success. The stage was set for South Africa and West Indies to play the first final of the new endeavour in global cricket. The Proteas were once again the favourites, and they were yet to earn the ‘chokers’ tag back then.
Hanse Cronje won the toss and asked West Indies to bat first. A decision that could have backfired if Philo Wallace got more support from his teammates. The highest run-scorer in the tournament was looking unstoppable, slamming five sixes in his innings (103 off only 102 balls). Barring Carl Hooper and Wallace, none of the batsmen showed up and the Caribbean side was bundled out for 245. It seemed like, there was a thriller on the cards as the West Indian bowlers kept on taking wickets at regular intervals before Cronje settled the nerves with an unbeaten 61, thereby guiding South Africa to its first and only, till date, major international trophy.
India vs New Zealand, 2000 ICC Knockout Trophy Final
"Two-sixty on a small ground, that's 220 on a normal ground,” a casual Chris Cairns said after taking his side home against Sourav Ganguly’s India. It wasn’t meant to be that way for the Kiwi, for he was struggling with his right knee and only got the go ahead a day before the final. As they say, what transpired on 15 October, 2000 is history.
New Zealand had never reached a final, set aside winning anything. The coin flipped in their favour and they opted to field. The start was good but the first 26 overs were not. Sachin Tendulkar and Ganguly stitched together a 141-run stand before the former was run out. Ganguly, though was unperturbed as he brought up his 15th ODI century. However, the rest of the Indian batsmen batted ‘stupidly’ in the final overs and Ganguly’s men were left to defend 264 to win the title. There were only two maidens in the first innings, Cairns had bowled both of them.
Ganguly and Co again dominated the first 25 overs of the second essay. Even though the Kiwis had kept the run-rate in check, they had lost five wickets and were in a desperate need of a partnership. That’s when Cairns and Chris Harris shared a memorable 122-run stand, with the result seeming obvious after this partnership. A full toss was flicked away through square leg by Cairns to bring up the winning moment. And just like that, a man who was not supposed to play in the final ended up being the hero of the tournament and his country.
South Africa vs West Indies, Group Stage, 2002 Champions Trophy
One of the first rules when you’re bowling the final over is that don’t concede extras. Eight out of ten times, it will cost the bowling side, unless you are Jasprit Bumrah. Needing 3 off 1 ball, Mervyn Dillon bowled a wide which allowed the South African batsmen to take a bye. Owing to which, the scores were levelled and Alan Dawson ensured that his side emerged victorious.
As interesting the second half of the match sounds, the first half was just as dull. West Indies posted 238 and were evidently short by 10-15 runs. But as things turned out, the South Africans were docked an over for slow over-rate and the West Indian bowlers provided a brilliant start. Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis were sent back to the hut with the score on 61. It was an uphill task after the Proteas lost those three but Boeta Dippenaar and Jonty Rhodes stuck around and hit half centuries. Just when it seemed there won’t be any more drama, Rhodes and Dippenaar fell in the same over giving the Caribbean side an opening. But Mark Boucher and Lance Klusener displayed maturity and put their side in a winning position. Dillion’s last over did the rest.
India vs South Africa, 2002 Champions Trophy Semi-final
Cricket is a sport that depends a lot on external factors. Ask Herschelle Gibbs and he will tell you all. Chasing 262 at the R. Premadasa Stadium, South Africa were cruising. The breakthrough wasn’t coming and Gibbs was in rampant form (he slammed a century in his previous match against Kenya), ably supported by Jacques Kallis. It was only the Colombo heat that seemed to be bothering Gibbs. He was dehydrated and despite being provided a runner, he simply couldn’t continue his innings. The South African opener retired hurt on 116 in the 37th over with his side needing 70 off 13 overs with nine wickets in hand. He would have assumed the remainder of the chase to be a cakewalk for his side, while walking up the stairs to the pavilion. What followed was something even the most optimistic Indian fan would’ve expected.
The image of Yuvraj Singh flying to his right and take a stunner at short fine-leg will be forever etched in the memories of all fans. It was his second (spectacular) catch of the match and it wasn’t going to be his last. Boeta Dippenaar followed Jonty Rhodes to the pavilion three balls later. And after Harbhajan Singh’s impressive spell (10-0-37-2) ended, Sourav Ganguly turned to an unexpected candidate. Virender Sehwag, who earlier scored a 50, bowled four overs conceding only 15 runs and taking a wicket. But his work hadn’t finished. He was asked to bowl the last over by his captain with the Proteas needing 21 runs and Kallis still at the crease. His first ball of the 50th over of the match, was slog swept for a mighty six. Suddenly, 15 off five. Was Kallis going to chase this down? “Nope,” said Sehwag as he dismissed Kallis off the very next ball. He fell three runs short of a well-deserved century and India had staged an exceptional comeback to enter the final of 2002 ICC Champions Trophy.
England vs West Indies, 2004 ICC Champions Trophy Final
“In the air…. and gone, big wicket, surely that must be it for England here,” exclaimed the commentator on air after Shivnarine Chanderpaul’s attempted clip went into the hands of Michael Vaughan at covers. The English players huddled around Vaughan and started celebrating. They thought they had won it and why not? West Indies needed 71 off 98 balls, England needed two wickets. The West Indian supporters must have lost their hopes, and no one would have given them a chance at that point.
Ian Bradshaw strolled out to join Courtney Browne at the centre after Chanderpaul’s wicket, his ODI batting average reading 8. But the thing that worked in West Indies’ favour was that they could take their own time as the run rate wasn’t demanding enough. And they did. In the process, they broke the West Indian record of the best ninth-wicket partnership which was previously held by Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. They still needed 17 off three overs but they had the belief. England weren’t celebrating anymore.
With 9 needed off 11 balls, Browne sliced Wharf over backward square-leg for a boundary and took a single off the next ball. West Indies needed 4 runs off 8 balls to record an unimaginable victory. Bradshaw, who’s best score before this match was an unbeaten 12, hit the winning boundary to allow his teammates rush onto the field, jump on each other and what not! The English players were in the huddle again. No celebrations followed though.
Updated Date: May 28, 2017 21:07 PM