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ICC Champions Trophy

There is a very heartening news item, that Bhuvneshwar Kumar has donated 1 lakh rupees to the flood victims. He has become the second cricketer to donate after veteran Harbhajan Singh, who has already donated Rs.10 lakh. Earlier, Shikhar Dhawan had also dedicated his man of the tournament award to the flood victims. Respect for these gentlemen.

Now, over to the main write up.

Even though five days have passed, the fragrant memories of the historical win for India in the Champions Trophy final against England are still afresh. It was one of the greatest days for Indian cricket.

The impeccable finish to the campaign by Team India was made possible through the all-out efforts put in by one and all. The perceptions that many a times India loses because of a lack of killing instinct, or underperformance have gone now. This became possible only due to the bold strategy of captain Dhoni. This match had some history wrapped around it, being the last match of Champions Trophy, as well as the 100th match in the tournament’s history.

To be honest, prior to the start of the match, everybody was cursing the weather, but once our wickets started tumbling, our prayers turned the other way round – wishing rain drops could save us from possible defeat! But then, the equation changed with the extremely high spirit of the young and capable warriors of Dhoni. A barely reasonable target became difficult to chase. Dhoni had belief in the talented Bhuvneshwar Kumar, R Ashwin, Ishant and Yadav.

England, from the very beginning, were looking like a strong contender on account of a good compact team, with the advantage of playing at home. Also, the stats appeared to be favourable for England. Out of the 31 matches played at Edgbaston, England had won 19 matches – that comes to a 61% win ratio, whereas India had won 3 out of 6 played at the same venue which comes to a flat 50%.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan had said prior to the finals that England do not show any fear or choke in big games these days. Also, England’s James Anderson had already taken 10 wickets before the finals at an economy of 3.84, and he was stated to be able to trouble any given batsman.

A couple of write ups in the UK media before the grand finale seemed tilted towards England on account of their solid batting lineup consisting of Trott, Morgan, Cook and Bell. The only positive factor noted in otherwise pro English articles appearing across various platforms was that the Indian supporters, as usual, will outnumber the England supporters.

Interestingly, while comparing Shikhar Dhawan against Anderson, many gave higher weightage to Anderson on account of the Englishman’s vast exposure. Cook was also projected as a player who could easily dominate India’s best bowler – Kumar. All this didn’t really materialize as projected.

But then a billion dollar question needs to be answered – what really happened to the mighty English team? This match was being played on their home ground. Many of the fans believe that this was nothing but overconfidence that their ship sank miserably. So much so that I had read somewhere that England was taking this match as a warm-up game before the Ashes.

On the other hand, team India has successfully delivered the message to one and all – gone are the days when our players used to give up easily. Who knows this terrible defeat of England might boost Australia for the Ashes. A young Indian supporter perhaps had correctly exclaimed – what a miserable defeat for England, even Kenya could have given a better fight from that position.

Anyways, Dhoni has again led Indian team to a glorious victory, raising our hopes for the upcoming tri-series in the West Indies. Although the series has been touted as a less important one, it would be a decent overseas test for the Indian team. The pitches are expected to be a mixed bag, supporting spin as well as seam, and hopefully the Indian bowlers can make the most of them. Let’s hope for the best as another world cup is just two years away!

2004

ICC Champions Trophy 2004 Final England v West Indies at the Oval MICHAEL VAUGHAN DEJECTED

After England’s elimination from the group stages in the 2003 World Cup under Nasser Hussain, the future looked bleak. It was England’s turn to host the ICC Champions Trophy next year and England fielded a bunch of young and inexperienced team comprising players like Andrew Strauss, Alex Wharf and Geraint Jones – trying to create a new beginning.

While they were unbeaten in the group stages, defeating Zimbabwe and a very strong Sri Lankan side, their run had nearly come to an end when they had to face the invincible Australians in the semi-final. But England managed to chase Australia’s 259 with ease, thanks to brilliant knocks from Marcus Trescothick , Captain Vaughan and Andrew Strauss.

England’s quest for their first ICC trophy nearly came to an end, with them having to face the West Indies side that were in their final stages of decline. England could only manage to set a target of 218 for the West Indies but early breakthroughs from Harmison and Flintoff put them on top. With West Indies at 147-8, needing another 71 runs, complacency hit England hard, with their bowlers unable to dismiss the tail-ender Ian Bradshaw and wicket-keeper Courtney Browne and West Indies ended up winning an international completion after several years.

2004 was a heart-breaking defeat for England where they just threw it away after being so close, but it marked a new beginning. It was a ray of hope and this beginning resulted in the team reaching great heights, including ending the long wait for The Ashes the very next year.

2013

England v India: Final - ICC Champions Trophy

In 2013, the circumstances were different, with England having a strong side, yet to prove themselves in ODIs, got into the Champions Trophy as host nation under Alastair Cook. However, England used the conditions well, got their tactics right and reached the final recording comprehensive wins, barring one defeat against Sri Lanka in the group stages.

While India were the favourites, so long as other things remained constant, they had a poor record at England – especially against the current generation of fast bowlers. However, on 24th June, 2013, nearly everything went against England except the toss.

First, it was the weather reducing the match to 20 overs per innings which gave India the obvious advantage as nearly all the players in the Indian team were also T20 players, whereas England doesn’t use their top three for a T20 match. Instead, the Cook, Bell and Trott trio stabilised the innings with Buttler, Bopara and Morgan providing the fireworks in the death overs. In fact, I felt a T20 solution to an ODI tournament was absurd and the tournament should’ve had reserve days like in 2002, especially with the weather forecast looking favourable in Birmingham the next day.

Despite the 20 over constraint, England bowlers restricted India to a meagre 129. But the batting had an unfortunate collapse, losing three wickets for just 40 runs and then came the Ian Bell decision. While a majority feel Ian Bell had got his foot in ground before the bails came off, third umpire Oxenford felt otherwise (what happened to benefit of doubt going in favour of the batsman?). This put considerable pressure on Bopara and Morgan, who, although aggressive batsmen by nature, had to stabilise the innings before they could go for the big shots. Had England a score like 75-3, the situation could have been entirely different. But England only have themselves to blame, requiring 20 off 16 and Bopara and Morgan threw their wickets, away leading to the eventual five run defeat.

While India deserved the win no less, following their domination in the tournament, it could’ve been much better if it had been in a 50 over game with umpiring decisions not being the talking point and I appreciate Alastair Cook’s courage to call Bell’s dismissal a poor decision.

So, 2004 and 2013 – England hosted the Champions Trophy and came so close to winning their first ODI tournament but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. While 2004 could be fully attributed to the brilliant resistance from Ian Bradshaw and Courtney Browne, 2013 has a lot of other talking points. Purely from the perspective of an England supporter, 2004 was a heart-breaking defeat with no hard feelings, 2013 was a heart-breaking defeat with a LOT of hard feelings. The only solace for England could be winning the forthcoming Ashes, similar to what happened in 2004. The only positive for England from this tournament is that they’ve shown that they’re no pushovers when it comes to ODIs and I’d love to see them as a lethal force in the 2015 World Cup, and hope they win at least one long-deserving ODI trophy.

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“God is not coming to save us…If you want to win this trophy we will have to fight it out. We are the number one-ranked side so let us show it that they will have to fight for these 130-odd runs.”

When Team India formed the huddle after the interval, that’s exactly what MS Dhoni said to them before they went out on a chilly and damp evening to defend a paltry 129 against a buoyant English side. What followed was a brave-heart effort mixed with dollops of genius from a team that has looked the hungriest for success throughout the ICC Champions Trophy.

Doesn’t sound like we’re talking about the Indian cricket team, does it?

Great fielding, defending small totals, no rifts in the side, no nasty politics – in fact, throughout the Champions Trophy one has heard nothing but positives about the Men in Blue. Maybe because this final edition of the Champions Trophy wasn’t only about winning. It was about proving a point, setting a few things straight and sending a message to the rest of the cricket world. And India did all that with some style!

India came into this tournament as the numero uno ODI side. After the exposé of the IPL-drama, people mocked at the team, questioned their credentials, faulted the ICC ratings and said – “It’s England, the ball’s going to swing”. The ball didn’t swing much but a few notions did. India got out charging off the blocks and hammered Sri Lanka and Australia in the warm up games.

“Winning is a habit and a good one too…” – MS Dhoni said after the first warm up game. Keeping abreast with their good habit, the Indians won all their group games, comprehensively, and before one could batter their eyelids, they cruised into the finals, crushing their familiar foes in the semis. As the tournament progressed, Dhoni and Co. continued to flex their muscles and the Group B toppers suddenly became a threat that the others were happy to duck.

“India has been the team of the tournament so far. They are a fearless, aggressive bunch and I have not seen that from India before. This team is better than the World Cup-winning side in 2011…” – Michael Vaughan

Vaughan is right. It is a better team. Not in terms of talent, but in intent and execution. The 2011 team had more quality – Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh and above all, Sachin Tendulkar. These stars came together, fought hard, camouflaged their weaknesses with the help of home conditions and lifted the much coveted trophy.

After that, the team hit a downward spiral. The World Cup victory was followed by back to back white washes and a humiliating series loss at home. The team was torn apart by the critics and MS Dhoni held on to his captaincy, thanks to a special someone.

Then came Australia and the Indian team suddenly rose from their slumber to inflict a 4-0 score-line on a Clarke-led Australia. But we Indians are a cynical lot. We love to demean our own triumphs by wrapping it in an envelope of sarcasm and being sarcastic about the success of the Indian cricket team has become a much desired pass time.

This attitude of ours was delightfully borne out after the series against the Australians. The media proved how bad the Aussies were while the social networking sites got busy trolling a certain left-arm spinner who left a world class batsman clueless. But it reached its crescendo with the spot-fixing scandal and there was one “logical” explanation behind every cricketing action – “Sab kuch fixed hai!”

However, amidst all these cynicism and negativity, we forgot to notice the paradigm shift that took place in India cricket. MS Dhoni, silently, did a “Sourav Ganguly” and, with the help of the Indian selectors, formed a new Team India.

ODI: India v South Africa

Ganguly or Dhoni – Who is the better captain? This is an ongoing debate that apparently has no conclusion. While Dada is viewed as the original macho-man of Indian cricket, Dhoni’s success has been largely attributed to “luck”. Though the titles tally tilts the scales towards Dhoni, leadership is a trait that can hardly be quantified with numbers. But if we scrutinize both men, there isn’t much difference in terms of impact.

Those who have followed Indian cricket closely in the last decade, know how Ganguly changed the way cricket was played in India. An enigma during his peak, Ganguly was admired by his team and the fans because of the way he led. He chose his men, instilled steel inside the team and galvanized them into a force. Most importantly, he taught India how to win.

In the year 2000, Sourav Ganguly took charge of an ailing side wounded with accusations of match-fixing. Come 2013, Dhoni finds himself in a similar predicament and now “Captain Cool” has drawn up the same blue-print that Ganguly used 13 years ago.

Ganguly scrapped off the seniors, backed the youngsters, put faith in their abilities and build a nucleus for the future. Dhoni, too, has shown the door to the ones with the inflated egos and has got rid of the liabilities on the field. He has invested in a few good men who might not be ultra-talented but can’t be faulted for effort.

But in the minds of an Indian cricket fan, it’s not the same. Shikhar Dhawan is nowhere close to Virender Sehwag neither Suresh Raina can match up to Yuvraj Singh. Ashwin is far less charismatic than Harbhajan Singh. while Bhuvneshwar Kumar lacks the zing of Zaheer Khan. Rohit Sharma will never be as dependable as Rahul Dravid and most importantly, there is no Sachin Tendulkar anymore. Apart from Virat Kohli, this Indian team lacks glamour and isn’t as elegant and classy as the one most of us grew up admiring.

This Indian team wins sans the showmanship. They keep it real. It lacks the brilliance of Sachin Tendulkar, the technical prowess of Rahul Dravid, the bravado of Sourav Ganguly and the histrionics of Harbhajan Singh. They don’t boast of supremely talented individuals but as a team they attack like ferocious pack of wolves. All of them have their own shortcomings but as an unit they look deadly. Moreover, they seem to enjoy the opportunity of creating a legacy.

Most importantly, Dhoni is making them tick and stick together by churning out performances from the less fancied Jadejas and Sharmas. Love him or hate him, Dhoni has led India in more than 200 matches across all formats and he’s won more than he’s lost. But he doesn’t seem to care because neither success nor defeat affects him. That’s why we despise MS Dhoni.

Indians love Bollywood. We love drama and emotions but the Indian captain denies us from any. His emotions are only reserved for the ads he features in and once he crosses the ropes, he strips them off his face.

Even after this stupendous win, Kohli activated the Gangnam Gayle mode but all Dhoni managed was a wry smile thanking his team. He has now won every tournament that he could have but he doesn’t seem to be bothered.  His monk like demeanor can be scary at times but his eyes are on a bigger mission – to build a new side for the future – a team that’s lethal, clinical and never backs down.

He has found a few good men and till now the results are showing…

20-overs World Cup – 2007, Check

No. 1 Test side – 2010, Check

50–overs World Cup – 2011, Check

No. 1 ODI side – 2013, Check

Winning the ICC Champions Trophy unbeaten – 2013, okay, enough said!

England v India: Final - ICC Champions Trophy

Shikhar Dhawan

The recently concluded Champions Trophy had lots of excitement, especially for the Indian fans as they would be over the moon after successfully clinching the second consecutive major ICC title. England was no walk in the park and they made sure that India sweated it out to get past them.

The finals would be remembered for a long time by the Indian fans for the sheer grit and determination exhibited by the Indian youngsters. It was a slap on the face of the critics who wrote off India even before the tournament commenced.

Apart from the Indian youngsters, there were a few other players who played beautifully and they deserve a mention for carrying the team throughout the tournament. I am going to list out the best eleven that played in the tournament:

The Openers:

Shikhar Dhawan: The classy southpaw from Delhi was a revelation in this tournament. His consistence performances demonstrated that his whirlwind Test debut knock was no eyewash and that he truly belongs at this level. Playing instead of an experienced Virender Sehwag, Dhawan displayed a maturity at the top. His five innings comprised both aggression and caution as he was visibly hungry for runs. Being on the top of the run-getters table, he is an automatic choice for the opening slot.

Alastair Cook (C): The dynamic southpaw from England has led his side brilliantly to reach the finals of the last edition of the Champions trophy. He amassed two half centuries in the tournament with an average of 40 and has been a driving force in England’s success in the recent times.

The middle-order:

Jonathan Trott: The South African-born English middle order batsman is a definition for consistency. His lowest score in the last 12 ODI innings is 37 (not considering the final since it was a 20-over game) and that speaks volumes about his form and temperament. He has successfully guided England to the final of the tournament and his contribution was crucial in England’s journey to the top. He would be the perfect number three batsmen, especially if Dhawan falls early.

Kumar Sangakkara (Wk): The elegant left hander from Sri Lanka has been in fine touch in the tournament. He stroked a classy century against England in a must-win game. He has the ability to play long innings and his consistency is second to none. He is one of the few players who could be called a complete batsman since his record in both ODI’s and Tests are enviable. He is in the top five in the run getters list in Champions trophy and would be a worthy addition to the playing eleven.

England v South Africa: Semi Final - ICC Champions Trophy

James Anderson

George Bailey: The stand-in Australian skipper is the only bright spot in the otherwise gloomy Australian side that took defeat as it came. He was the only player who held the team together making two fifties in the process. Though his selection in the ODI’s was criticised in the beginning, he has been quite consistent and averages around forty in the tournament.

Misbah ul-Haq: The Pakistan skipper would be my only addition from Pakistan to this eleven as they fared poorly in the tournament. But that doesn’t take anything away from his two beautiful knocks, one each against West Indies and South Africa. In the match against South Africa, even though half of Pakistan’s side were back in the hut, South Africa couldn’t rest easy before the fall of Misbah. That is the kind of impact he had on the match and for that he would be in my playing eleven.

All-rounders:

Ravindra Jadeja:  The left hand batsman from Saurashtra has been making steady progress in the international arena and has been the go to man for the Indian skipper. His form in this year has been fantastic and he deserves praise for the way he has carried himself in the side. His performance in the Champions Trophy which includes a five-for and a 40+ score stresses the importance of an all-rounder in the side. With 12 wickets in five matches, Ravindra Jadeja is a natural choice for the number seven spot.

Ryan McLaren: Scored an unbeaten half-century and picked up three wickets in the opening game against India, following it up with a four-wicket haul against Pakistan. McLaren has been instrumental in South Africa’s entry into the knockouts. He picked eight wickets in four matches with an economy of less than six.

The bowlers:

Mitchell McClenaghan: The left arm seamer from New Zealand has made a rousing start to his career with some creditable performances with the ball. He took two four-wicket hauls to claim a place in this playing eleven. He has bowled well and with a little more support he could have taken New Zealand into the semi-finals.

R.Ashwin: The wily off spinner from Chennai has not been in great form in this tournament, yet he bowled economically to tie up one end with success. His bowling enabled the other bowlers to pick more wickets frequently. He picked eight wickets from five games with economy under five which is incredible in conditions that are not suited for spin bowling.

James Anderson: This seamer from Lancashire has been in eminent touch in the tournament bamboozling the best of batsmen with his pace and swing. He took eleven wickets at an average of 15 and has delivered whenever the skipper has turned to him for a wicket.

Notable Omissions: Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, MS Dhoni, Hashim Amla, Mahela Jayawardene, Joe Root, Ravi Bopara, Ishant Sharma.

England v India: Final - ICC Champions Trophy

Edgbaston saw a sizeable Indian contingent turn out to cheer for the Men in Blue, as they took on the hosts in the final of the last edition of the Champions Trophy. I sometimes wonder why our beloved expats realise India’s worth (if only in sports) only when they stay away from the country – they could very well have cheered in India too. Nevertheless, it was a fine game of cricket, and the Indian team ran out winners by 5 runs to win their maiden ICC Champions Trophy title. Here are some snapshots of the action from Edgbaston:

Takes a T20 to decide a 50-over Game:

You know, in some ways, Twenty20 is actually good for ODI cricket. Otherwise how would the excitement of witnessing a low-scoring humdinger occur? With rains continuously playing spoilsport for much of the day, it led to a reduced game of 40 overs – 40 of the most thrilling overs in the entire tournament. The kind of thrill a T20 game generates is only seen towards the end of the innings in a 100-over match. Plus, you never know which side would win. I wish the ICC had given more thought towards the weather factor- they could have converted the Champions Trophy into the World T20 championships, given that almost all games were affected by the rains. Everyone wanted a complete final – and they got it too!

No Doughnut for Rohit:

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan have had a magnificent run right throughout the tournament, having raised quite a few 50-plus stands for the first wicket. However, things had to change, and most unfortunately, it had to happen in the final. I suspect Rohit added all those runs because he’s a fan of doughnuts, and was extremely hungry owing to the frequent rain breaks. So he did the most obvious thing – he played a casual stroke and was castled. I wouldn’t be too surprised if Dhawan found his opening partner munching happily on the sugary snack instead of coming out to the balcony and watching the proceedings!

The Talented Mr. Bopara:

Ravinder Singh Bopara is England’s Jack of All Trades. His military medium pace proved rather effective today, as he bagged three crucial Indian wickets. He almost won the game for his side with a breezy knock too. His exploits just proved what I’ve been saying for years: It takes an Indian-origin guy to dismiss Indian batsmen. Bopara may not have been able to take his side over the finish line, but he did leave his mark on the match: he managed to put Ishant Sharma off his line with that six of his!

Ishant Sharma- From Zero to Hero:

This guy needs a haircut. I say that in all seriousness. With the conditions being windy and overcast, Ishant’s dreadfully long locks resulted in him spraying the ball all over the wicket during England’s chase. Though he did come back well with two wickets off consecutive deliveries, his shaggy mane proved to be his bane as he steamed in to bowl. One suggestion, Ishant: Lose the locks. They turn you into a declaration bowler – wayward and predictable.

Turning Point – The Trott and Morgan Dismissals

It’s easy to determine where England lost the plot during the chase. A blazing Jonathan Trott had struck fear into the hearts of the Indian camp with his free-flowing strokeplay (he had to do it for the local crowd – after all, he was the home-town hero) that made the young Bhuvneshwar Kumar look ordinary. Ashwin’s guile lured him into giving up his wicket, and he “Trotted” off with his tail between his legs. Eoin Morgan, who fancies himself as a left-handed MS Dhoni in terms of finishing, played a rank poor shot to a rather straight delivery. I guess the tag of chokers  is misplaced – SA was handed it, England actually deserve it.

For a considerable period of time, I feared that the last edition of this tournament would meet a watery end (no, not the Karan Johar kind). But the Rain Gods were surprisingly in India’s corner today. The Men in Blue were overwhelming deserving winners of the trophy, overcoming all the sadness created by spot-fixing and betting allegations back home, In what was a clinical performance, they did not even lose a single game to their opponents. They started with a win over Sri Lanka in the warm-up game, and didn’t look back since then. Let’s just hope they keep the momentum going – and ensure a fresh supply of doughnuts for our dear Rohit Sharma!

Congratulations MSD and Team India – Winners, ICC Champions Trophy 2013!

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The Champions Trophy final saw a lot of excellent performances, some decent performances and some really low cricketing displays from both sides. The English batsmen failed to consolidate their bowlers’ efforts while the Indian middle-order struggled to cope with the marauding English bowlers. Here’s a look at some of the members from both teams that make them the cast members for the Champions Trophy’s ‘Heroes and Flops’ section:

Heroes of the Day

– Ravindra Jadeja: If the Queen decides to actually knight Ravindra Jadeja after his performance in the Champions Trophy, it would be well-deserved. He batted like a hero, bowled like a fighter and then lived to tell his tale to the world. The highest wicket-taker the tournament with brilliant batting cameos, Ravindra Jadeja deserves all the applause that he’s received so far and then some more.

 

– Ravi Bopara: He was instrumental during the English bowling, picking two important wickets. During the English run-chase too, he almost got the job done before Ishant Sharma abruptly ended his innings. But it was Bopara’s presence in the team made it possible for them to be optimistic till the end about their chances in the match. He may have almost gotten the job done, but Bopara’s performance in the final wasn’t really done in half-measures.

 

– Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and R. Ashwin: A collective clapping round for these three guys who got India the victor’s podium. Kohli and Dhawan with their batting and Ashwin with his impeccable bowling made India be in the game, in spite of a not-so inspiring start.

 

Flops of the Day

– Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina: These two Indian batsmen merely put in a blink-and-miss appearance in the final. Had they been around for quite some while, who knows, India may have even gone past 150-runs – a total that would have made the Indian bowlers even more confident about their prowess.

 

– Jos Buttler: The English wicket-keeper had a completely miserable Champions Trophy outing and an even worse final. Sent down the order, Buttler’s batting innings failed to give the English run-chase necessary support leaving them in a lurch. Had Buttler stood up and delivered yesterday, he would have gone down as a heroic figure rather than a meek flop making his name felt in this section.

 

Apart from these stand-outs, other names that can be counted as ‘Mixed-Bags’ with both good and below-par performances include MS Dhoni, James Tredwell, Ishant Sharma and Eoin Morgan.

England v India: Final - ICC Champions Trophy

Even as the euphoria of India winning the Champions Trophy continues to run unchecked, there are still a few dark clouds that hover over the result. Though not exactly damaging in nature, not introspecting into them could however cause complacency to creep in and even rattle the currently, delicately braced sanctity of the game.

– Aleem Dar’s demotion to Fourth Umpire for the Final: England’s ball tampering issue seemed to raise its head all over again as Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar was looked over Kumar Dharmasena and Rod Tucker for the final. It later emerged that Dar’s decision to change the ball during the England-Sri Lanka match was a crucial factor that cost him a match. Though the ICC, English coaching team, players and the umpires of the match themselves claim that the ball change was due to its natural distortion and not because anyone had tampered with it, not providing thorough clarification in the matter ended to be a huge price to pay for a fine umpire.

 

– Indian Middle-Order: Caught Unawares: The Indian openers did a fine job throughout the Champions Trophy. But the lone match where they weren’t able to put up runs on the board, the famed middle-order too crumbled along. Karthik, Raina and Dhoni all got out cheaply before the match’s fate was left in the hands of Kohli and Jadeja. And there again, even while Kohli and Jadeja did provide India with a decent target, the absence of any distinct contribution from these three in-form batsmen gave way to the question: did the Indian middle-order combust because of lack of enough presence in matches? Or were they too overwhelmed with the bowling conditions and unable to get their feet moving, at all?

 

– The English Version of a Choke: The South African defeat to England in the semi-finals may have been construed as a choke by many, but the English batsmen’s self-annihilation was nothing short of a choke either. Trott, Root, Cook and Buttler all seem ill-equipped to handle a modest 130-run target. Bell, Bopara and Morgan did restore some hopes at odd intervals, but none of them were able to get the momentum going till the very end. The Indian bowlers were, of course, excellent, but their excellence was also at times aided by the English inconsistencies.

 

– Controversial Third Umpiring: There’s this cricketing rule that is often quoted and at times, even over-emphasised: The benefit of doubt always goes to the batsman. But sadly for Ian Bell, he was at the wrong end of a controversial third umpiring decision. The replay showed grounding of his foot happening just moments before Dhoni had the bails off from behind the stumps. The stumps seemed to be rattled but the bails weren’t. The unclearness of the action had everyone convinced that Bell wasn’t out. Almost everyone, that is. The giant screen showed the third umpire giving the decision in favour of the bowling team, which left everyone in the English camp unhappy. Leaving the question to roost: if Bell was given the benefit of doubt, would England have had a chance to win the match, ever so within their grasp?

 

– Scheduling, Scheduling and then some more Scheduling: The Champions Trophy may have been a hit among the masses, but its airtight scheduling didn’t garner any approval for the ICC from the fans. No reserve day in case the final was washed out by rain, choosing venues that were more susceptible to showers than the other cricketing venues in the country, the truncated match that saw a parody of an ODI unfold at Birmingham and over and over the litany of scheduling complaints go on. Perhaps then, it’s only good that the Champions Trophy has been done with. Maybe the sport and its fans can see newer top-tiered tournament formats come with a better reasoned scheduling.