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7 unexpected heroes from Champions Trophy history

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Champions_Trophy_Heroes_CricketSince its inception in 1998, when it was the Wills International Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy has thrown up a fair share of stirring performances from underrated cricketers. Irrespective of how their team fared, these players made a mark on the second most coveted tournament in One-Day International cricket. For some, these performances were the defining moments of their international careers.

With the 2017 Champions Trophy approaching its denouement, let us go back in time and revisit the memorable performances of seven cricketers who played a significant role for their teams in various editions of the tournament.

Philo Wallace (West Indies, 1998)

A powerful Barbadian opening batsman, Philo Wallace ended the inaugural edition in Dhaka as the highest run-getter, tallying 221 at an average of 73.66 and a strike rate of 107.80. He began by bludgeoning 79 off 58 balls, including 13 fours, in the quarterfinal against a potent Pakistani outfit; an innings that laid the base for the West Indies’ 30-run win. The semifinal saw him give another brisk start, scoring 39 in 45 balls in his side’s six-wicket defeat of India.

Wallace reserved his best for the final against South Africa, creaming 103 from 102 balls – his only international hundred – with 12 fours and five sixes. However, after he was fourth out with the score at 180 in the 35th over, the West Indian innings lost steam and the eventual target of 246 was overhauled by South Africa with four wickets and three overs to spare. His last ODI outing was in 2000, and his career ended with an uninspiring average of 21.24 in 33 matches.

Yuvraj Singh (India, 2000)

Yuvraj Singh burst on to the international scene as an 18-year-old who dominated the much-vaunted Australian bowling attack in the quarterfinal of the 2000 Champions Trophy - then known as the ICC Knockout - in Nairobi. This was his first international innings (he did not bat on debut against Kenya).

India were in a spot of bother at 90/3 in the 19th over, having lost the key wickets of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid, when Yuvraj walked in. The talented southpaw proceeded to turn the tables on the World Cup champions, cracking 84 from just 80 balls, with 12 fours, before being dismissed in the 47th over.

Yuvraj was not done yet though; he twice put the brakes during Australia’s chase of 266, first taking a stunning catch to remove Ian Harvey and then running out Michael Bevan with a direct hit to contribute towards India’s 20-run win. Nearly 17 years on, he remains an integral part of the Indian ODI set-up.    

Shayne O’Connor (New Zealand, 2000)

Unfancied New Zealand emerged victors in the 2000 Champions Trophy after dispatching India by four wickets in a thrilling final. However, before that, Stephen Fleming’s men had to overcome Pakistan in the semifinal. Pakistan rode on a second consecutive hundred from Saeed Anwar (104), but when the stylish left-hander was dismissed, the score was a wobbly 178/6 in the 35th over.

Abdul Razzaq and Wasim Akram produced a revival, and at 237/6 in the 46th over, the stage was set for some fireworks. Enter left-arm pacer Shayne O’Connor, who snared four victims in nine balls, including Razzaq and Akram, in a momentum-shifting spell. Pakistan’s hopes of a big total were squashed, and they were instead bowled out for 252, which was not enough to prevent New Zealand’s four-wicket triumph. O’Connor was named Man of the Match for his return of 5/46.   

Douglas Hondo (Zimbabwe, 2002)

Zimbabwe were knocked out of the 2002 Champions Trophy, played in Sri Lanka, after the first round. But 23-year-old fast bowler Douglas Hondo was one of the silver linings for the men in red. Hondo had debuted in the ODI series in India earlier in the year, and had starred with 4/37 in only his third game. Six months later, he faced off against the Indians again, this time in a crunch Champions Trophy clash.

Sourav Ganguly, Dinesh Mongia, Sachin Tendulkar and Yuvraj Singh all succumbed to Hondo’s testing pace and swing. By the 14th over, India were gasping for breath at 87/5. His figures of 4/62 were in vain though, as Mohammad Kaif (111*) powered India to a 14-run win. He bettered himself in the next game against England with 4/45, but Zimbabwe were thumped by 108 runs. Hondo’s Champions Trophy numbers read 11 wickets at 18.18, nearly half his career average.

Ian Bradshaw (West Indies, 2004 and 2006)

A lanky left-arm paceman from Barbados, Ian Bradshaw etched his name in Caribbean cricket folklore by being part of a memorable, unbeaten ninth-wicket partnership of 71 with Courtney Browne. They lifted the West Indies from the depths of 147/8 to their eventual target of 218 in the 2004 Champions Trophy final against England at the Oval. Batting at number ten, Bradshaw scored a priceless 34* in 51 balls and hit the winning boundary off the fifth ball of the 49th over.

Earlier in the day, he accounted for Vikram Solanki and Michael Vaughan to give the Windies a positive start. His six wickets in the tournament came at 23.66 apiece. Two years later, in the 2006 edition in India, he impressed again by taking eight scalps at 24.00. This included a match-winning 3/30 against India in a crucial game that eventually paved the way for the West Indies’ entry into the final. Bradshaw’s last international appearance came at the 2007 World Cup.

Runako Morton (West Indies, 2006)

Runako Morton had controversially pulled out from the West Indian squad for the 2002 Champions Trophy, after lying about the death of his grandmother. However, redemption was in store in the 2006 edition, as he produced his most significant international performance of an otherwise ordinary career in the West Indies’ group match against Australia in Mumbai. The pressure was on the Windies, who had been bowled out for 80 by Sri Lanka four days earlier.

Moreover, a charged-up Australia soon had the West Indies struggling at 63/4. Morton, one of the few international cricketers from the island of Nevis, was joined by his captain Brian Lara at this stage. The duo resurrected the innings with a stand of 137 for the fifth wicket. Morton, later named Man of the Match, remained unbeaten on 90 from 103 balls, as his team defended a modest 234/6 to win by ten runs. Tragically, he died in a car crash in 2012, aged just 33.   

Shikhar Dhawan (India, 2013)

At the start of the 2013 Champions Trophy in England, India’s left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan had an ODI average of 13.80 across five matches, the last of which came in June 2011. Named in the squad on the back of a sensational 187 on Test debut against Australia earlier in the year, he justified his selection in style, collecting a chart-topping 363 runs at 90.75 to win the Player of the Tournament honour, and more importantly, star in India’s triumphant campaign.

Dhawan began by putting the South African bowlers to the sword with a 94-ball 114 in the tournament’s opening duel to set up India’s 26-run win, and followed it up with 102 in 107 balls in the next game as India cruised past the West Indies by eight wickets. He kept on making valuable contributions right until the end – 48 against arch-rivals Pakistan, 68 in the semifinal against Sri Lanka and a rapid 31 in the tight, rain-reduced final against England.

 

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Rustom Deboo is a cricket blogger and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of Test...

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