With the world of cricket blotted by the spot-fixing nightmares in the Indian and Bangladesh premier leagues, there will finally be respite as top-notch action returns with the last edition of the ICC Champions Trophy that begins today in Cardiff.
Eight top Test teams are vying in the contest that will explode into action with the Group B game between India and South Africa today. Experts believe it will be an open tournament with no clear pre-event favourites.
However, focus has been on Pakistan, New Zealand, India and the West Indies, who are believed to be in good touch and increased their chances with impressive performances recently. On the other hand, MS Dhoni’s men proved that the IPL spot-fixing saga did not damage them as a team, as they registered a scintillating victory over Australia in a warm-up match.
West Indies, spurred by the in-form Chris Gayle, have all the potential to shock any side, while the Kiwis also got a perfect start with an overseas series win over hosts England.
South Africa, the former champions, are currently the most formidable side, considering their recent spree of ODI series wins. England, who went down in the ODI series against the Kiwis, will enjoy the advantage of playing at home — a factor that could play a vital role. Neither Australia nor Sri Lanka can be written off, considering their balanced squads and ability to shine at major tournaments.
With the ICC’s anti-corruption and security unit in action to ensure clean cricket and teams desperate to lift the last Champions Trophy, fans are in for an enthralling 18 days of cricket.
Misbahul Haq (captain) 2013
Pakistan in ICC Champions Trophy
Younus Khan (captain) 2009-10
A convincing five-wicket win over the West Indies followed by another impressive victory over India set Pakistan up nicely. A thrilling two-wicket loss to Australia did not stop Pakistan from going through to the last-four. However, a drop catch and Grant Elliot ensured Pakistan still did not make it to the final of the ICC event.
Younus Khan (captain) 2006-07
The event started off on a good note with Pakistan beating Sri Lanka in their opener by four wickets courtesy all-rounder Abdul Razzaq. A loss against New Zealand, by 51 runs, and a thrashing at the hands of South Africa meant the team failed to seal a berth in the last-four
Inzamamul Haq (captain) 2004
A completely one-sided encounter saw Pakistan destroy a hapless Kenya who were dismissed for 94 due to Shahid Afridi. Shoaib Akhtar and Rana Navedul Hasan restricted India in the next match and Pakistan made it to the semi-finals. However, West Indies took advantage of a mercurial batting line-up to walk into the final
Waqar Younis (captain) 2002-03
The first event that was not a knockout saw Pakistan crash out during the pool stage. After going down in their opening match against Sri Lanka, their chances of making it to the semi-finals were effectively finished. A win against the Netherlands salvaged some pride but Pakistan’s poor run in the event continued.
Moin Khan (captain) 2000-01
In the second edition, Pakistan did one step better. In the quarter-final against Sri Lanka the team overhauled a total of 195. Saeed Anwar hit a century and followed it up with another against New Zealand. However, Shayne O’Connor restricted Pakistan to 252, which New Zealand overhauled with one over to spare.
Aamer Sohail (captain) 1998-99
The first tournament was based on a knockout-format with Pakistan going down in their opening match to the West Indies. Set a competitive 290-run target courtesy Philo Wallace’s quickfire 78, Pakistan were restricted to 259 for nine with the slow spinners of Keith Arthurton causing the damage to end their sorry tale in the quarter-final.
2009-10 in South Africa
Runners-up: New Zealand
2006-07 in India
Runners-up: West Indies
2004 in England
Winners: West Indies
2002-03 in Sri Lanka
Winners: Sri Lanka/India
2000-01 in Kenya
Winners: New Zealand
1998-99 in Bangladesh
Winners: South Africa
Runners-up: West Indies
Published in The Express Tribune, June 6th, 2013.