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7 Champions Trophy Classics

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ICC_Champions_Trophy_cricket_logoAs ICC Champions trophy is ready to begin, we look back at a few classics played in this tournament.

1. India vs Australia (Nairobi, 2000)

This was the first QF of ICC knockout (as the Champions trophy was then known). Australia decided to field first, assuming their fast bowlers would exploit the conditions. But Tendulkar's violent assault on McGrath's new-ball spell gave India the initial momentum. This faded away once Lee removed Tendulkar. 

India lost wickets at regular interval but, in his first international innings, 18 year-old Yuvraj Singh displayed astonishing poise, thrashing Australia's star-studded attack for 84 from 80 balls. Australia's innings revealed another budding hero in Zaheer Khan. Bowling left-arm at sharp pace, Zaheer castled Steve Waugh in the 43rd over to end a dangerous partnership with Brett Lee and effectively decide the match. 

2. South Africa vs West Indies (Colombo, 2002)

A nail-biting finish in the end, WI slid to a defeat they hardly deserved. Useful contributions from the top order batsmen took WI to a respectable 238 despite Chanderpaul's torturous 98-ball 45. SA were in trouble early on, but the 117-run fourth-wicket partnership between Boeta Dippenaar and Jonty Rhodes brought the chase back on track. 

Hooper removed both of them in the space of 3 deliveries and Dillon exhibited considerable economy in the end overs. Dillon picked up Boucher, Pollock and Klusener to almost win the match for WI. But when 3 runs were needed of the last ball, he bowled a wide. Batsmen run a bye and scores were level. This gave the ultimate freedom to Alan Dawson, the batsman on strike. He swung at the ball and the thick-edge ran away to the third-man fence.

3. India vs South Africa (1st SF, Colombo, 2002)

It was a breath-stopping, heart-thumping finish for India who pulled off a stunning 10-run win over South Africa. India put 261 on board on the back of a fierce half century from Sehwag and a masterclass from Yuvraj. Dravid was unlucky who missed the fifty by one run. In reply, Gibbs had torn Indian bowling to confetti with his audacious display of strokes. But he was cramped and then retired hurt with still 70 more runs required to win. This opened the tiniest window of opportunity for India and Virender Sehwag turned the tide for India with his bowling. Bowling his flat, quick off-spin he bagged three wickets and won the match for India. Yuvraj picked three sensational catches, left cricket pundits to decide which was the best among them.

4. England vs West Indies (Final, The Oval, 2004)

England were on course in the pursuit of their first ICC trophy, until Bradshaw and Browne came in their way. The duo set about forging an unbeaten ninth-wicket stand of 71 and ultimately left England utterly aghast. 

Earlier England rode to 217 thanks to Marcus Trescothick’s eighth century. He was the only one among England's specialist batsmen who solved the mystery of getting runs on an unusually bowler-friendly Oval pitch. 217 looked like a half-decent score while Flintoff and Harmison were roaring in, backed up by two stupendous catches from Strauss and Solanki that would have been game-breakers in any other match. 

But as they say, victory belonged to the side who wanted it the most. After all they have been through - on the pitch, off the pitch and, perhaps most pertinently, back home in the hurricane-devastated Caribbean - West Indies simply refused to let this one go. WI players donated all the prize money to Caribbean relief fund.

5. Australia vs West Indies (Mumbai, 2006)

West Indies rode on fine performances from Runako Morton (90 not out) and Brian Lara (71) to post 234 for 6, and then restricted Australia to 224 for 9 despite a magnificent and measured 92 from Adam Gilchrist. Gilchrist tempered his aggression to ensure that Australia remained in the hunt but the rot started when he was run out, leaving his team mates to get 53 runs of 50 balls. 

Australia had Hussey and Clarke at crease and they were favourites. Bravo then got Clarke caught and bowled, and Jerome Taylor registered the first hattrick for WI in ODIs with some sheer fast bowling yorkers. He bowled Hussey, trapped Lee in front of wicket and then bowled Hogg to seal the match. Earlier Lara's decision to demote himself to take on the spinners proved to be a masterstroke. He added 137 runs with Morton from 63-4 and gave his bowlers a chance to fight. 

6. South Africa vs England (Centurion, 2009)

It was a startling contest powered by some great individual performances from both sides. Owais Shah and Paul Collingwood laid a solid platform for Eoin Morgan to launch a violent assault on the Proteas after England lost their openers inside first ten overs. Shah was unlucky to miss a well-deserved century while Morgan massacred all South African bowlers. 

SA started the chase well as Graeme Smith led the way with typical pugnacity. England picked wickets at regular intervals and James Anderson returned the magnificent figures of 42-3 in his 10 overs. England won the game amid the runner controversy after Strauss denied a runner to Smith, who was suffering from cramps. ICC defended Strauss and later on ruled that batsmen would not be allowed runners anymore.

7. England vs India (Final, Birmingham, 2013)

The best classic on this list was the final of the last Champions Trophy. The match was reduced to 20 overs a side after more than half the allotted time was lost due to rain. Cook won the toss and sent India in to bat on a cloudy afternoon. Dhawan and Kohli took a calculated risk and took India to 50. 

England’s new bowling star, Ravi Bopara, bowled a superb spell of 4-1-20-3. India managed 129 thanked to late hitting by Ravindra Jadeja. In reply, England were struggling at 46-4 and again Bopara came in India’s way. He added 64 runs with Morgan and England were all set for their 2nd global trophy in cricket. 

Dhoni then called Ishant Sharma to bowl the 18th over and this proved to be a masterstroke. Despite being hit for a six and bowling two wides, he dismissed Morgan and Bopara off successive deliveries. Bopara was caught by a perfectly placed Ashwin who was at that field position only before that ball. India took inspiration from this and Jadeja and Ashwin combined together to give just 13 runs in last 2 overs and India pulled off a sensational victory.

 

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