Incepted as ICC Knockout in 1998 and also hyped as the ‘Mini World’, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is the eighth edition of the high profile tournament. The debate continues if the tournament still holds enough relevance in presence of World Cup and the World T20 but one fact holds true that it is amongst the game’s most coveted silverwares. Many have gone to regard this tournament as a tougher competition that the World Cup.
Australia and India have been the most successful sides in Champions Trophy winning the tournament twice. India were joint winners in 2002 and enter the current tournament as defending champions after winning the trophy in 2013. Australia were back-to-back winners in 2006 and 2009. India’s have won 71.4 of their matches Australia 63.2. No doubt, these two sides enter the eighth edition as favourites alongside the inaugural edition’s champion South Africa and hosts England.
Over the last two decades, the tournament has witnessed some of the finest displays in ODIs. Suvajit Mustafi on behalf of CricketCountry picks the All-Time Champions Trophy XI.
(Note: The selection cut-off is minimum 5 matches)
It is unfortunate that West Indies have not qualified for the mega event. This means we will not get to see Gayle in this tournament. The Jamaican superstar sits at the top of the run-getter table. He played a crucial role in West Indies’ triumph in 2004. He slammed 3 hundreds in their bid to defence in 2006 and ended up winning the Player of the Tournament. However, his side finished second to Australia. Add 17 wickets to the fantastic batting record, Gayle the opener, is also the part-time spin option in this illustrious side.
Dhawan has played in only one tournament but he has made enough impact. He was the highest run-getter in the 2013 edition and was one of the chief contributors in India’s triumph. The elegant Dhawan is the appropriate partner that a bludgeoning Gayle needs at the top.
Who miss out: Herschelle Gibbs and Virender Sehwag
The flow of southpaws does not seem to stop. Here, however, is an easy pick. When it is an all-time Champions Trophy XI, Ganguly has to be top pick. He had set Nairobi ablaze in the 2000 edition. His hundred against South Africa in the semi-final sealed it for India. Two days later, another three-figure from him in the final went on to be overshadowed by a Chris Cairns’ blitzkrieg that handed New Zealand her first major tournament.
Ganguly had another successful run as a batsman and skipper in 2002 as India ended as joint-winners alongside hosts Sri Lanka. His hundred against England was somewhat unusual. He played a silent spectator while Sehwag butchered the English bowlers in their opening stand of 192. Then he added 71 in 49 balls for the third wicket with Sachin Tendulkar, with the latter’s contribution being only 9 from 20 balls. You do not often dominate like that with Tendulkar at the crease, but that batch of Indian batting was special.
For leading India to two finals and having a success per cent of 75, Ganguly is chosen to lead this side.
Kohli’s enviable record in this tournament finds him a spot in the XI. There will be arguments that Damien Martyn deserved this spot for his sheer dominance in the 2006 edition. Martyn averages 61.50 from 11 innings while Kohli scores at 67.75 from 7 innings. However, while Martyn strikes at 74 per 100 balls, Kohli’s strike rate touches 87.
It is a tough call between the stylish Australian and the Indian run-machine but Kohli makes the cut in order to maintain balance. With not enough firepower to come down the order, Kohli’s strike rate gives him the extra edge.
Who miss out: Damien Martyn, Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Mohammad Yousuf
Jacques Kallis(1998-2009) | South Africa — all-rounder
South Africa’s only silverware in an ICC tournament came in 1998 — the inaugural edition of Champions Trophy and Kallis played a massive role in Hansie Cronje-led unit’s triumph. He slammed an unbeaten hundred in the semi-final against the then World Champions Sri Lanka and followed it up with a five-for in the final. Kallis has been one of the most consistent performers in this tournament, scoring over 650 runs and claiming 20 wickets. He lends stability to the middle-order and plays the role of the third seamer.
There is no outstanding candidate for this slot. Kumar Sangakkara, Adam Gilchrist and Brendon McCullum have not really set things on fire when it came to Champions Trophy. Dravid, meanwhile, has kept wickets in two editions and did more than a decent job. Out of his 19 Champions Trophy games, Dravid kept in 6 ODIs and effected 8 dismissals.
One of the pillars of the much-famed Indian batting of the 2000s, Dravid registered as many as 6 fifties in Champions Trophy. His excellent record with the bat in this tournament sees him take guard at No. 6 in this side.
Watson has got 4 ducks from 15 Champions Trophy innings. However, the other matches fetched him 453 runs. Watson’s major exploits have come at the top order but here he plays the role of the finisher. He has been Australia’s crisis man in this tournament. He won the Man of the Match in the final in 2006, and also bagged the same award in the semi-final and final in 2009. In a nutshell, Watson’s exploits have played a catalyst in Australia’s two title triumphs.
No. The numbers are too surreal to ignore. There is a tendency to ignore Jadeja but he is there, standing right up your face, proving himself. Proving the world wrong. Jadeja may have just played one edition but like Dhawan, he has done enough to merit a place in the squad. Daniel Vettori, Farveez Maharoof, Shaun Pollock stake strong claims. In order to maintain the balance of the side and squeeze in another spin-bowling all-rounder in this pace-dominated attack, Jadeja, the face of Indian bowling in their 2013 triumph, makes the cut.
It was not about the bowling only. His fielding remained excellent throughout the tournament. He has batted only twice, but that included a 29-ball unbeaten 47 against South Africa. Defending 332, Jadeja bowled the only maiden in the game and finished with 9-1-31-2. And in the final his 25-ball 33 not out took India to 129 in the rain-curtailed 20-over contest. He returned with figures of 4-0-24-2, dismissing the rock-solid Ian Bell and the dangerous Jos Buttler. He walked away with the Man of the Match Trophy in the final.
Who miss out: Farveez Maharoof, Shaun Pollock and Daniel Vettori
We finally have a New Zealander making on the list. Again, he has to be amongst the first names jotted down while listing the Champions Trophy XI. No bowler has taken more wickets in this tournament than Mills. The first edition he played was in 2002 when New Zealand entered as defending champions. He claimed 3 wickets at 20.67 but the Kiwis failed to progress below the group stage. He made no mark in the 2004 edition either.
However, he ended up with 10 wickets from 4 matches at 11.8 in 2006 as New Zealand’s campaign finished in semi-final after a loss to Australia. He was not finished yet: he returned as the third-highest wicket-taker in the 2009 edition, claiming 9 scalps under 23, but New Zealand’s party was spoilt again by Australia, this time in the final. In 2013 Mills claimed 6 wickets from 3 games at a ridiculous 10.5 but he could not help New Zealand surpass the group stage hurdle.
Conditions hardly mattered to the spirited Aucklander, who thrived everywhere to emerge as the best ever bowler in this tournament. Mills could bat. He also added 98 runs in the tournament at 19.6.
No surprises here. Not only is Murali the most successful bowler in international cricket but also in history of this tournament. In 2002, in the tournament played in Colombo, Murali emerged as the highest wicket-taker, scalping 10 wickets at 7! His economy rate read 2.78! Sri Lanka finished as joint winners.
He continued to remain lethal in subcontinent conditions. In 2006 he ended with 9 wickets at just over 20 while his economy rate remained 3.29. It was only in 2009, in South Africa, that the spin wizard remained ineffective, claiming just a wicket from 2 games at 106 and gave away runs at almost 5.9. Not surprisingly, Sri Lanka ended up losing all their games.
Murali still has done enough to lead the spin attack in this line-up.
A miser when it came to giving away runs and a difference-maker when it came to claiming key wickets, McGrath leads the pack of pacers in this side. Not only does he have exceptional numbers, he also made a difference when it mattered.
His Champions Trophy career was not off to a great start after he received a tonking from Tendulkar at Nairobi. Two years later, he came back with a bang, bagging a five-for against New Zealand at SSC.
He did not have a great outing in England in 2004 but made up for it claiming 10 wickets in the 2006 edition in India. He gave away runs under 3.6 and picked the wicket of his nemesis Brian Lara in the final. Australia laid their hands on Champions Trophy for the first time.
Who miss out: Mervyn Dillon, Makhaya Ntini and James Anderson
Greatest Champions Trophy XI: Chris Gayle, Shikhar Dhawan, Sourav Ganguly (c), Virat Kohli, Jacques Kallis, Rahul Dravid (wk), Shane Watson, Ravindra Jadeja, Kyle Mills, Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath
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