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The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy, scheduled to begin on June 6, will officially be the last edition of the Tournament in limited overs cricket, giving way to the first ICC Test Championship to be held in 2017. However, the Tournament will not be parting without its fair share of memorable and embarrassing moments.
Popularly known as ‘the mini World Cup’, the first edition of the Tournament in 1998 saw South Africa win their first (and last) major tournament, a feat repeated by New Zealand in 2000.
If that was historic, the final of the next edition of the Tournament between Sri Lanka and India was supposed to be a rematch of their fateful encounter in the semi-finals of the World Cup in 1999.
However, whereas that match was called off due to Indian fans setting the stands on fire after a dismal batting performance by their team, the 2002 Champions Trophy final was washed out by rain – and the Trophy was awarded to both teams. Anti climatic to say the least.
Pakistan too has had a colourful past in the Tournament. In 2006, it switched captains thrice and dropped key players due to doping charges before finally succumbing to South Africa at the first stage, after only scoring 89 runs.
However, in the 2009 edition, when the security situation forced Pakistan to relinquish its spot as hosts, the team fought valiantly to reach the semi finals before losing to New Zealand in the penultimate stage.
Although Pakistan has a disappointing history against India in the World Cup, it has beaten its neighbour not once, but twice in the Champions Trophy. This year, Pakistan and India will meet again on June 15. Pakistan fields a team brittle with the bat, but boasting “one of the best young bowling attacks in the world”.
The team has also achieved some degree of stability after a turbulent few years having been unable to play any of its matches at home. In terms of clinching the Cup, Pakistan is still a dark horse, but then no team understands cricket’s unpredictability better than Pakistan.
– Shayan Shakeel
First published in the Adbuzzzz Section of The DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on June 2, 2013.