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Fight for the second biggest title

ICC Champions Trophy is the most prestigious ODI tournaments after the World Cup

Fight for the second biggest title

The ICC Champions Trophy is the most prestigious ODI tournaments after the World Cup. It was inaugurated as the ICC Knockout Tournament in 1998 and renamed the Champions Trophy in 2002.

Australia and India are the most successful teams of this competition as they have won the trophy twice. South Africa, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and West Indies have lifted the trophy once. India are the defending champions this time.

Since 2009, the tournament has involved only the eight highest-ranked ODI teams. From 2000 to 2004 associate members also participated in the tournament.

Pakistan are yet to get their hands on the prestigious trophy. They haven’t even reached the final yet. But new ODI captain Sarfraz Ahmed and his company are confident to break the jinx this time. They begin their journey against arch-rivals India at Edgbason, Birmingham on June 4 (today).

Chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq and former captain Javed Miandad hope that Pakistan team will not only beat India but also win the trophy.

Inzamam believes that the Test series win over the West Indies in the Caribbean was a big morale boost. It will help Pakistan perform well in the Champions Trophy, he says.

But former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly says India will beat Pakistan once again. He thinks that in the last 8-10 years India produced many more quality cricketers than Pakistan and that has been one of the major reasons why India have continued to dominate Pakistan in ICC events.

The inaugural tournament was held in Dhaka in October 1998 and was won by South Africa who beat the West Indies in the final by four wickets.

Jacques Kallis clinched the man-of-the-match and the man-of-the-series awards with his all-around performances.

Nine teams took part in the event: South Africa, Sri Lanka, India and the West Indies progressed to the semi-finals. Pakistan were defeated by the West Indies by 30 runs.

The second edition of the Champions Trophy was held in Nairobi, Kenya, in October 2000. Eleven teams participated in the event. New Zealand surprised India in the final by four wickets. It was the first time the Kiwis won a major title.

Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh made their debut for India during the tournament. Eleven teams took part in the event. Pakistan failed to qualify for the final yet again, suffering defeat at the hands of New Zealand by four wickets.

In the final, India posted 264-6 in 50 overs. In reply, the Kiwi top-order collapsed to 132-5, but Chris Cairns turned the match with his undefeated 102 off 113 balls. He added 122 runs for the sixth wicket with Chris Harris (46). Cairns was declared the man-of-the-match.

The third Champions Trophy was held in Sri Lanka in 2002. It was the first time a dozen teams took part in the prestigious tournament. The participants were the 10 full members of the ICC plus the Netherlands and Kenya. The pattern of the tournament was changed and the teams were divided in four groups and top teams from each group qualified for the semi-finals. Pakistan were placed with hosts Sri Lanka and the Netherlands. Pakistan lost their match against Sri Lanka by eight wickets. Sri Lanka qualified from the group after winning both their matches. India and Sri Lanka qualified for the final. Heavy rains delayed the final for two consecutive days. On the first day, India, chasing 245, were 14-0 in two overs when rain stopped the game. On day two, India, now chasing 223, were 38-1 in 8.3 overs when rain again interrupted the play. With the match being abandoned, the trophy was shared by the two teams.

The next edition was held in England in 2004. Again 12 teams participated as the United States made their international debut. Pakistan improved their record and won both round matches, against Kenya and India, and qualified for the semi-final. They were bowled out in the 39th over by the West Indies for just 131. The West Indies reached the target in the 29th over for the loss of three wickets.

In the other semi-final, hosts England beat the World Champions Australia by six wickets.

The final saw West Indies chasing a modest target of 218 thanks to the 71-run partnership between Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne after they were 147-8 at one stage. Ramnaresh Sarwan was declared the man-of-the-tournament.

In 2006, the Champions Trophy came back to Asia and was held in India. Only 10 teams participated and no Asian side qualified for the semi-finals. Pakistan’s performances were miserable. They won against Sri Lanka but lost important games against South Africa and New Zealand.

In the first semi-final, Australia beat New Zealand by 34 runs, while the West Indies defeated South Africa by six wickets.

Australia lifted their first Champions Trophy when they beat the West Indies by eight wickets. West Indian opener Chris Gayle was named Player of the Tournament.

Only top eight teams participated in the 2009 edition, in South Africa. The campaign saw Pakistan give their best performance in the trophy as they beat India and the West Indies comprehensively and qualified for the semi-final, while India failed to reach that stage.

In the first semi-final, Australia beat England by nine wickets. New Zealand reigned supreme against Pakistan in the second semi-final by five wickets.

In the final, Australia outclassed New Zealand. They first restricted the Black Caps to 200-9 and then Shane Watson’s unbeaten 105 of 129 balls ensured Australia won the ICC Champions Trophy for the second time in a row.

The last Champions Trophy, held in England in 2013, was won by India, who beat England in the final by four runs.

Pakistan, under the leadership of Misbah-ul-Haq, failed miserably. They lost all their three matches: against West Indies by two wickets, against South Africa by 67 runs and by eight wickets to India.

For Pakistan, Shoaib Malik is the most experienced player this time as he is playing his sixth Champions Trophy. He made his tournament debut in 2002, and since then has played in all editions of the tournament. He has scored 326 runs and taken 10 wickets in 15 matches.

He also scored the last century in the Champions Trophy from Pakistan, 128 against India in Centurion in 2009.

Former opener Saeed Anwar struck two centuries in the Champions Trophy in Nairobi in 2000.

Khurram Mahmood

Sports Khurram Mahmood

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