BY WASIM PARKAR – FAN FUEL BLOGGER
After a fantastic tournament featuring some great cricket ended with India winning a thrilling final against England in a rain-reduced 20 over contest. Here, I look back at the stories of the tournament through my ICC Champions Trophy 2013 awards.
Player of the Tournament: Ravindra Jadeja. Twelve wickets at an average of 12.83, a strike rate of wicket every three and a half overs, at an economy of 3.75. The stats paint only part of the picture. Jadeja was Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s go-to bowler whenever he needed a breakthrough, and the southpaw duly delivered. He also contributed with the bat, an unbeaten 47 off 29 balls against South Africa in the tournament opener, and even more crucially 33 off 25 balls in the final.
Runner-up: The other star leftie in India’s team, and their batting superstar – Shikhar Dhawan. Two centuries, one fifty, 363 runs scored at more than a run a ball, with a lowest score of 31. Remarkable consistency in setting a strong foundation for India at the top
Young Player of the Tournament: Joe Root. The young man from Yorkshire will be disappointed in the way he got out in the final. Despite that blip, Root had a fantastic tournament scoring 173 runs at a strike rate of 90, always managing to accelerate the innings with sensible cricket. Throw in to the mix his handy off-spin, and Root is set to be a mainstay in the England team for a long time.
Runner-up: Mitchell McClenaghan. The young left-arm seamer from New Zealand was a revelation, taking 11 wickets at 13.09. A brilliantly disguised slower ball already in his repertoire, with some tweaks, McClenaghan could foreseeably lead the Kiwis ODI attack with fellow southpaw Trent Boult.
Innings of the Tournament: Kumar Sangakkara’s unbeaten 134 for Sri Lanka against England. With Sri Lanka on the brink of elimination chasing an imposing target of 294, Sangakkara kept his calm and guided the team to victory playing some brilliant shots and helping Nuwan Kulasekara along to a game-changing 58.
Runner-up: It seems futile when looking at the tournament as a whole, but Misbah-ul-Haq’s 96 not out against the West Indies was an excellent innings. While his batting partners were submerged in mediocrity, Misbhah’s innings allowed Pakistan’s bowlers a shot at unlikely victory.
Spell of the Tournament: Ravichandran Ashwin was overshadowed by Jadeja throughout the tournament, but he performed his duties exceptionally. Never more so than in the final, with a spell of 4-1-15-2. Ashwin dismissing a well set Jonathan Trott and the dangerous Root in successive overs set the alarm bells ringing in the England camp, enabling India to make a small total really competitive.
Runner-Up: Lasith Malinga’s 10-2-34-4 against New Zealand in Cardiff. Defending a small total of 138, Malinga varied slower yorkers after faster yorkers, and was one umpiring error away from leading Sri Lanka to the most improbable of victories.
The “South Africa are going to choke” moment: England in the final. With 20 runs needed in 16 balls with six wickets hand, England somehow contrived to lose the match, with injudicious shot after injudicious shot handing over the trophy to India.
Runner-up: With rain finally coming out on their side, many thought the hoodoo was lifted. The Proteas duly put on a batting display of staggering ineptitude to be dismissed for 175 on a flat track in the semi-final against England.
Anti-climax of the tournament: The two semi-finals. Extremely one-sided, decided by the poor performances of the losers rather than outstanding cricket by the victors.
Runner-up: The conditions. It was supposed to be a fast bowlers dream, low scores were expected against the swinging ball in England. No such thing. The pitches were flat and dry most of the time and top batsmen rarely struggled.
The useless veteran player of the tournament: Ramnaresh Sarwan. Two runs in two innings. Enough said.
Runner-up: Shoaib Malik. Twenty-five runs in three innings. Again, enough said.
Silliest dismissal of the tournament: Any one of Eoin Morgan, Jos Butler and Tim Bresnan getting themselves out in the final.
Runner-up: Kieron Pollard’s horrible swipe/hoick/cut throwing away West Indies’ place in the semi-finals and gifting it to South Africa.
Best onslaught in the slog overs: Ravi Bopara’s 28 off Sharminda Eranga’s last over against Sri Lanka.
Runner-up: Darren Sammy’s outrageous 52 off the last three overs against India.
Best match of the tournament: Fittingly, the final. It looked for the longest time, that there would no match because of the rain. Thankfully common sense prevailed for once on the behalf of the ICC, and we managed to witness a 20 over contest that ultimately went down to the last ball, with several ebbs and flows, and twists at the most unexpected moments, with neither team ever truly on top.
Runner-up: Mainly due to Malinga’s aforementioned heroics, but Sri Lanka and New Zealand reminded us that sometimes the best matches are low-scoring ones. As the pendulum swung from one end to the other, the Black Caps scraped out a one wicket win against a spirited Sri Lankan bowling effort.