Guest Section – Revisiting Pakistan’s Champions Trophy campaign

  Before the commencement of the long-awaited ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan was a team struggling for direction, representing a nation fighting for identity. The country has long been at the mercy of erratic politics and incessant terrorism that has left its sporting venues deserted and neglected for a major part of the last decade.

  Inner turbulence has been imitated in the way the national team has played its cricket. It is hard to build structures and promote stability when neither exists in the society. It is a challenge to make and execute plans when the nation has stooped to the lowest levels of confidence. At this point, everything is transitory and vague.

  Entering this exceptionally competitive tournament, Pakistan were the nethermost team; the rank-outsiders among the giants of modern cricket. Underdogs, to be precise. A flattering ranking, a newbie skipper, injury concerns to major stars returning to the squad and depleting resources suggested anything beyond a group-stage exit was highly improbable, if not out of question.

  The harrowing defeat first up against India in front of a jam-packed Edgbaston house took that out of proportion as well. The script was being followed to the T as far as Pakistan’s campaign was concerned. It was so traumatic that it triggered a couple of abrupt changes: Junaid Khan replacing a diminishing Wahab Riaz and Fakhar Zaman, a debutant, succeeding an out-of-touch Ahmed Shehzad.

  When things slide downhill briskly, writing Pakistan off is the easiest option. However, that comes up with its own perils as three cricketing titans, South Africa, England and India, found out later. The blunt, dicey changes proved a blessing in disguise, straightaway. The drubbing received in the initial game served as a motivating burst for this team, full of young and lively blood.

  The rejuvenated pace attack set about for newer adventures, showcasing composure and spitting fire as it came to terms with some of the best batting suits in world cricket. In a rain-affected match, Pakistan comprehensively clobbered South Africa – the No.1 ODI team at that fleck of history – and the western part of the subcontinent began finding its long-lost voice.

     Underrated Pakistan not just entered their first Champions Trophy final, but also subdued holders India to cap a memorable campaign (source – gettyimages/hindustantimes.com) 

  Gradually the notes improved, the tunes enhanced and the verses concluded. From these came determination, and from that, came expression. The world was too focused on the megastars, not realizing that the boys in green had begun scribbling a narrative of their own. Four days later, Pakistan brushed past Sri Lanka in what was to be an agonizingly close potential quarter-final.

  The warning bell had sounded. The predictably unpredictable greenshirts had emerged out of thin air. The bruised tiger was finally cornered and ready to assault. Extraordinarily and unbelievably, Pakistan marched into the semis, leaving the cricketing world bewildered.

  A fiery opener in Zaman was discovered, whose flamboyance and hit-everything approach peeled off the early shakiness and perfectly complemented Azhar Ali’s solidity. In Hasan Ali, they found a warrior who defied all odds and plucked out crucial wickets when they were needed the most.

  A fine leader, in the shape of Sarfraz Ahmed, materialized out of the pandemonium, marshalling his troops and conducting his orchestra with mastered skill as the flames erupted behind the old pavilion. The dignity of the remainders brought hope and the gallantry of the incoming promise. The overwhelming momentum and victory-seeking lust blew away the English as well.

  England, who happened to be joint favorites, were trounced at the Sophia Gardens in Cardiff and ousted from their own backyard. It was as immaculate and flawless a performance as cricket has ever witnessed. It was the other way around: unpredictably predictable. Pakistan breathed fire again.

  “We certainly want to come out and put our best game forward and win, and we want to go to London”, was what Mickey Arthur expressed after the see-saw battle against Sri Lanka. Well, that was where Pakistan were headed to after the semi-final thrashing, where the mighty, gifted Indians awaited.

  The Oval, with all its grandeur and majesty, was ready to adopt the vibrant South Asian colors and provide a perfect backdrop for what was to be a memorable Sunday eve. And you just had to be there. Hundreds of thousands of fans strolling down the South London alleys as they chanted trademark sub-continental slogans. Many more millions glued to their TV sets all around the globe.

      Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam rejoice after Pakistan completed a convincing win over hosts England in the semifinal (source – gettyimages/bbc.com)

  The sun hung like a brass coin on a thread, further dismissing any chances of rain interruptions. India decided to bowl first, apparently relying upon their stronger suit: chasing. The Pakistani duo made a cautious start until Zaman nicked Jasprit Bumrah to the keeper, in only the fourth over of the innings.

  Zaman begins drifting off the field; the man who has changed the structure of this batting line-up from an old woman pushing a shopping trolley to a rally car fluttering around bends dangerously. But then he is stopped mid-way and there is a daunting reason for that. Bumrah has overstepped.

  The blueish parts of the stands are muffled as the fans slouch down in disbelief. Even the Divinity was backing green that day. Making the most of this reprieve was what Zaman wished to do and he did that in some style. The flaying hook shots, the flashing cuts and drives, the heaves over cow-corner for magnificent sixes. In what seemed to be a blink of an eye, Zaman registered his maiden ODI ton.

  What an iconic venue to achieve it at! What a time to pull it off! What an opposition to score against! An incredible story had been penned down in the history books forever. The Babar Azam-Shoaib Malik pair built on this sensational platform to further stabilize the ship. However, it was not until Mohammad Hafeez arrived on the crease that the actual carnage unleashed.

  Who could have thought that Hafeez would suddenly discover this flexibility, this originality, this flair that changed perception and decimated India’s already woeful bowling attack? A quick-fire half-century supported by Imad Wasim’s unorthodox stroke-play meant Pakistan stormed to a mammoth total of 338/4 – the second highest in Champions Trophy history.

  The battle cry was at its loudest. The revolutionaries were retreating. The crowds waited as a sense of uneasiness surrounded the Oval. Jitters, panic and what not? On their day, the Indian batsmen could single-handedly wipe out the best bowling line-ups. Up front, facing Mohammad Amir, was Rohit Sharma. The dynamic, dominant Rohit, coming off a century in the semi-final.

      Fakhar Zaman raced to his maiden ODI hundred in the final against India, laying the foundation for Pakistan’s massive victory (source – AFP/indiatimes.com)  

  He tentatively nudges at the first delivery, wary of Amir’s murderous combo of pace and swing. Two balls later, he is pinned in front, courtesy of a quick in-swinger. Dead plumb. Rohit is gone. In comes the glorified warrior of the Indian soil, the greatest chaser the game has ever given birth to, the legend of modern-day cricket that is Virat Kohli.

  Amir beats him on the inside edge the very first ball he faces. The unsettled Kohli goes for an extravagant leg-side flick ten minutes later, which results in a top-edge straight to point’s throat. The green-lidded Pakistani section of the audience at The Oval goes berserk and the fielders swarm around Amir in joy. 200 million hearts rejoice and a billion hearts sink.

  At the rear of the Vauxhall End, the blaze rekindles. Synchronously, somewhere in a small dwelling in Karachi, a group of teenage kids scream their hearts out in utter elation, ripping their shirts off as they spurt around their home. Half of the game was won. Redemption tasted sweet. Greatness felt contagious.

  Kohli’s wicket was a killer blow that severely damaged India’s aims. An unthinkable batting collapse followed as wickets fell in a cluster. The greatest batting unit was surrendering as the Pakistani pacemen clawed through its defenses. Each and every bowler in the team got to taste and savour vengeance.

  The last wicket saw the ball lobbing up in the air and after what seemed to be an eternity, it dissipated into Sarfraz’s gloves and it was all done and dusted. The final nail was hammered into the coffin as Pakistan romped to a 180-run victory. The defending champions were dethroned and ambshed by their arch-rivals.

  History had been rewritten and preserved. One of the greatest comebacks in ODI cricket was accomplished. And once again, in all its unpredictability and fortitude, Pakistani cricket rose from its ashes, as resilient and hungry as ever.

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Record Book – England v India at the Women’s World Cup

  The final of the eleventh edition of the Women’s World Cup, between hosts England and a vibrant India, is underway at Lord’s, in what promises to be a riveting battle. While England have won the title thrice, India, on the back of remarkable wins over New Zealand and Australia, will be looking to lay their hands on the trophy for the first time.

  England and India have clashed on ten occasions in the Women’s World Cup, dating back to their first meeting in the 1978 edition. England hold a slight advantage, but India have won the most recent contest, on the opening day of the ongoing tournament. As the summit clash heats up at the Mecca, let us revisit the past World Cup encounters between the two sides.

Kolkata, 1978

  This league match at the iconic Eden Gardens was incidentally the first ever ODI that India Women played. It was a forgettable outing for the hosts, as they were shot out for a paltry 63 in 39.3 overs, with skipper Diana Edulji (18) being the top-scorer. Opening bowler Glynis Hullah returned figures of 6.3-4-2-2. England overhauled the total in the 31st over to win by nine wickets.

Auckland, 1982

  The 1982 edition, played in New Zealand, featured five teams, each team playing every other thrice. England saw off India by four wickets at Auckland’s Cornwall Park, chasing down a target of 113 with 24 overs to spare. Earlier, only captain Shanta Rangaswamy (50) stood tall as India were bowled out for 112 in the 53rd over. Hullah was at her stingiest again, taking 2/5 in 9.2 overs.

      Indian pacewoman Jhulan Goswami returned figures of 4/27 to set up a convincing win against England at the 2005 World Cup (source – thehindu.com)

Wanganui, 1982

  India exacted revenge in the second round, at Cooks Gardens in Wanganui, achieving ODI success against the Englishwomen for the first time. Wicketkeeper Fowzieh Khalili, opening the innings, stroked a career-best 88 to propel India to 178/7 in their 60 overs. In reply, the Indian bowlers, led by leggie Shubhangi Kulkarni (3/19), condemned England to a 47-run defeat in the 56th over.

Nelson, 1982

  England were back to their ruthless best at Trafalgar Park, where they subdued India with a dominating display. Pacer Janet Tedstone (4/17) and off-spinner Carol Hodges (3/9) tore through the Indian batting, and the total of 61 in 37 overs made for sorry reading. England cruised to a ten-wicket victory in the 22nd over, and went on to reach the final, which they lost to Australia.

Finchampstead, 1993 

  In what was possibly the best match of the tournament, the hosts eked out a last-gasp win. Jan Brittin scored 100 in England’s total of 179 – they lost their last seven for 22. Edulji, leading India again, took 4/12 with her left-arm spin. India went from 83/2 to 128/7 in reply, but the tail kept them alive. In a tense finish, number eleven Laya Francis was run out with four needed from two balls.

Lincoln, 2000

  The two teams played out another tight affair, this time in New Zealand. The English attack bowled with control to keep India to 155/7, Chanderkanta Kaul scoring 45. England crashed to 35/4 in the 21st over, before Claire Taylor (60) steadied the ship. India however had the final say, pinching an eight-run win with four balls left, off-spinner Rupanjali Shastri (3/25) being their best bowler.

      England captain Charlotte Edwards scored a match-winning 109 against India at Mumbai in the 2013 Women’s World Cup (source – ICC) 

Pretoria, 2005

  India, who would go on to enter their maiden final, notched a facile seven-wicket win. Pace ace Jhulan Goswami (4/27) and left-arm spinner Neetu David starred as England were bundled for 139, despite fifties from Charlotte Edwards (58) and Arran Brindle (51*). India slipped to 35/3, but Anjum Chopra (64*) and Rumeli Dhar (42*) dropped anchor, the win coming in the 46th over.

Sydney, 2009

  Eventual winners England stamped their supremacy in a nine-wicket win against India in the group stage at the North Sydney Oval. Holly Colvin (3/22) and Jenny Gunn dented the middle order, building on a fine start from Isa Guha (2/16). Mithali Raj top-scored with 59. The target of 170 was chased down in the 39th over, with Caroline Atkins and Claire Taylor both remaining unbeaten on 69.

Mumbai, 2013

  Reeling from a defeat to Sri Lanka in their opening game, defending champions England bounced back with a 32-run success against the hosts at the Brabourne Stadium. Captain Charlotte Edwards led from the front with a stroke-filled 109, powering England to 272/8. Despite the best efforts of Harmanpreet Kaur (107*), India could only manage 240/9, thanks to pacer Katherine Brunt (4/29).

Derby, 2017

  India began the 2017 edition positively, recording an impressive win against the hosts. Openers Punam Raut (86) and Smriti Mandhana (90 in 72 balls) set the tone with a 144-run alliance, following which captain Mithali Raj scored 71. Facing a challenging total of 281/3, England wobbled to 67/3 and were eventually dismissed for 246 in the 48th over, Fran Wilson’s 81 going in vain.

Record Book – Ireland at the Women’s World Cup

  Ireland missed out on qualifying for the Women’s World Cup for the third time in a row, after failing to progress from the Super Six stage of the Qualifiers held in Sri Lanka earlier this year. However, the Irish eves have had their fair share of experience in the showpiece event of the women’s game. Here is a look back at how Ireland have fared in the tournament over the years.

1988

  The fourth edition of the Women’s World Cup, held in Australia as part of its Bicentenary celebrations, marked Ireland’s debut in a multi-team cricket tournament. One of the only five teams to feature in the double round-robin tournament, Ireland finished fourth with two wins in eight matches. Their first encounter with New Zealand at Perth was forgettable, as they went down by 154 runs.

  The very next day, Ireland, captained by Mary-Pat Moore, achieved their maiden ODI win, defeating the Netherlands by 86 runs at the Willeton Sports Club in Perth. After being put in to bat, Ireland rode on Stella Owens’ 66 to get to 196/5 in the allotted 60 overs. The Dutchwomen then crashed to 37/5 and could only manage 110/7, thanks to a disciplined Irish effort with the ball.

  A pair of one-sided defeats at Sydney, by ten wickets and seven wickets against heavyweights Australia and England respectively, put paid to any faint hopes Ireland might have had of an unlikely spot in the final. The action then moved to Melbourne’s Carey Grammar School Oval, where Ireland notched their second win, chasing down the Netherlands’ 143 with five wickets and 20 balls remaining.

1993

  A record eight teams contested the 1993 edition in England, with the 60-over format retained. Each team played every other once in the league stage, where Ireland, led by Moore again, finished a creditable fifth. Ireland bounced back from a seven-wicket loss to New Zealand in their first game with a 70-run win over Denmark at the Christ Church Ground in Oxford.

   Irish captain Miriam Grealey hits out during her side’s win over the Netherlands in the 2000 World Cup. She has scored 505 runs across four editions (source – espncricinfo.com) 

  A fifth-wicket stand worth 96 between the dependable Stella Owens (61) and Miriam Grealey (63*) helped Ireland recover from 84/4 towards a defendable 234/6. The Danes were restricted to 164/9 despite being placed at 105/2 at one point. Susan Bray was the pick of the bowlers with 3/22, while three run-outs pointed to a quality effort in the field.

  Three defeats then followed, but Ireland impressed in two, limiting the margin of defeat against Australia to 49 runs and taking six Indian wickets while defending 151. Ireland’s second victory came against the Netherlands at Marlow, where, chasing 135, they slumped to 104/8 before winning by two wickets. The Irish campaign ended with a narrow 19-run defeat to the West Indies.

1997

  The record for the most number of teams was broken again, with as many as 11 sides taking part in the 1997 edition in India. Ireland were clubbed in Group A, alongside defending champions England, Australia, South Africa, Pakistan and Denmark. The maximum number of overs per innings was now the standardised 50. Ireland were led by the seasoned Miriam Grealey this time.

  After their opening game against Australia was washed out, Ireland saw off Denmark by nine wickets in a rain-reduced, 23-over affair at Chennai. Pacer Barbara McDonald took 3/12 to restrict Denmark to 56/7. Ireland’s next two outings, against South Africa and England, ended in big losses, by nine wickets and 208 runs respectively.

  In what was a must-win, final group clash against Pakistan at the Nehru Stadium in Gurgaon, Ireland rose to the occasion with a resounding display. Grealey top-scored with a quickfire 62 in Ireland’s total of 242/7 before the off-spin duo of Catherine O’Neill (4/10) and Adele Spence (3/4) helped shoot Pakistan out for just 60 – extras being the highest contributor with 27.

  This win enabled Ireland to enter the quarterfinals, by virtue of finishing fourth in their group with 15 points. In the knockout, they met New Zealand at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Faced with a challenging total of 244/3, Ireland limped to 105/9 to lose by 139 runs. Grealey ended as the highest run-getter for her team, with 137 runs from five innings at 34.25.

     The Ireland Women’s team celebrate a Sri Lankan wicket at the 2000 World Cup. They went on to narrowly lose the game by ten runs (source – espncricinfo.com)

2000

  The tournament was back to the eight-team league format in 2000, with New Zealand being the hosts. Grealey continued being the Irish skipper, and her team was rolled over for 99 en route to an eight-wicket defeat to the hosts at Lincoln in their first match. Next up was Australia, against whom it was even worse as Ireland lost by ten wickets after being bowled out for 90.

  In the third game against Sri Lanka, Ireland fell heartbreakingly short of victory. After skittling their opponents for 129, Ireland steadily seemed on track at 65/2 in the 32nd over. But the pressure of the mounting required run rate led to a regular fall of wickets and they folded for 119 in 49.5 overs. This was followed by a tame eight-wicket defeat to a England.

  Ireland produced an improved display against India, but was not enough to prevent a 30-run defeat. Their solitary triumph came against the Netherlands at Christchurch where a total of 232/6, enough for a 41-run win, was reached thanks to Caitriona Beggs (66*) and Anne Linehan (54). In their last game, Ireland went down to South Africa by nine wickets.

2005

  South Africa hosted the event for the first time, with the format of the competition unchanged. Clare Shillington was now in charge of Ireland, who qualified after winning the inaugural World Cup Qualifier held in the Netherlands in 2003 undefeated. But the tournament proper would prove to be a different kettle of fish, as for the first time, Ireland ended without a single win.

  In their first completed match, Ireland suffered a nine-wicket drubbing at the hands of India after being bowled out for 65. Two days later, another sizeable defeat followed, this time to England by 128 runs. It was hardly any better against New Zealand – bowled out for 91 before losing by nine wickets – or against the West Indies, to whom they lost by eight wickets.

  A tough campaign ended with a ten-wicket loss to Australia, with Ireland’s struggle to 66/8 in 50 overs highlighting the gulf between the two sides. Ireland have played 34 matches across five editions of the World Cup, winning seven and losing 26. Miriam Grealey is their highest run-scorer with a tally of 505, while Catherine O’Neill, with 17 victims, is the highest wicket-taker.

Specials – India v Pakistan ODI finals over the years

  Arch-rivals India and Pakistan are set to face each other in the final of the eighth edition of the Champions Trophy at the Oval today. Though this will be the first time that these two sides will contest an ICC ODI tournament final, they have often met in summit clashes over the years. Let us go back in time and revisit the instances of India and Pakistan squaring off in an ODI tournament final.

Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket, 1984-85

  In what was the final of a one-of-a-kind tournament featuring all seven Test nations, World Cup champions India posted a convincing eight-wicket win under lights at Melbourne. Kapil Dev (3/23) and L. Sivaramakrishnan (3/35) limited Pakistan to 176/9, which was chased down with 17 balls to spare, thanks to openers Kris Srikkanth (67) and ‘champion of champions’ Ravi Shastri (63*).

Austral-Asia Cup, 1986

  The final of the inaugural Austral-Asia Cup at Sharjah produced a classic that is etched in cricketing folklore. Sunil Gavaskar’s 92 guided India, who were inserted in, to 245/7. In reply, an equation of 90 from ten overs did not bother Javed Miandad (116*). With four needed off the last ball, the ‘Karachi streetfighter’ famously hit Chetan Sharma for six to seal Pakistan’s one-wicket win.

    With four needed off the last ball, Javed Miandad hit a six to ensure a famous win for Pakistan in the 1985-86 Austral-Asia Cup final 

Wills Trophy, 1991-92

  India and Pakistan pipped the West Indies to set up the final of this triangular series in Sharjah. Zahid Fazal (98*) and Saleem Malik (87) put on 171 for the third wicket before the former retired hurt, helping Pakistan to a sturdy 262/6. In the chase, India’s batsmen succumbed to paceman Aaqib Javed, who grabbed record figures of 7/37, including a hat-trick, as his team triumphed by 72 runs.

Austral-Asia Cup, 1993-94

  Pakistan won their third successive Austral-Asia Cup after beating India in the final. Aamer Sohail top-scored with 69 while Basit Ali hit a breezy 57 in Pakistan’s total of 250/6; off-spinner Rajesh Chauhan impressed with 3/29. India then fell apart from 163/4 to be dismissed for 211 in the 48th over, a fifth-wicket stand of 80 between Vinod Kambli and Atul Bedade going in vain.

Silver Jubilee Independence Cup, 1997-98

  This tri-series was played in Dhaka to mark 25 years of Bangladesh’s independence. India and Pakistan locked horns in the best-of-three finals after the hosts bowed out. The first final, a 46-over affair, ended in India’s favour with 53 balls and eight wickets to spare after openers Sachin Tendulkar (95) and Sourav Ganguly (68) put on 159 to shut Pakistan, who managed 212/8, out of the game.

  Pakistan turned the tables in the second final with a fine bowling display, spearheaded by left-arm spinner Mohammad Hussain (4/33). Only captain Mohammad Azharuddin (66) stood tall in a total of 189. Pakistan, buoyed by an attacking 51 from Saeed Anwar, galloped to a six-wicket win in 31.3 overs. The batsmen treated leggie Sairaj Bahutule with disdain, taking 53 off his five overs.

     Sourav Ganguly scored 124 to inspire India to a record-breaking win in the third final of the Independence Cup in 1997-98 (source – wisdenindia.com)

  The decider was a 48-over thriller that saw a new record for the highest successful chase. Pakistan amassed 314/5, with Anwar (140) and Ijaz Ahmed (117) adding 230 for the third wicket. Sourav Ganguly (124) and Robin Singh (82) took India to 250/1 in 38 overs, but the game went down to the wire – with three needed in two balls, Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit a four to give India a three-wicket win.

Pepsi Cup, 1998-99

  Pakistan had notched easy wins in their two league matches against India, and it was no different in the final of this tri-series (also involving Sri Lanka) at Bangalore. Inzamam-ul Haq (91) and Shahid Afridi (65) powered Pakistan to 291/8, which was too big a total for the hosts as they were undone by man of the match Azhar Mahmood, who took 5/38 to star in a 123-run victory.

Coca-Cola Cup, 1998-99

  India’s travails against Pakistan continued in the final of yet another tri-series, with England being the knocked-out team this time. The venue was Sharjah, Pakistan’s home away from home, and the bowlers rose to the occasion to skittle India out for 125 in 45 overs, with only Ganguly (50) showing some fight. The minuscule target was chased down in 28 overs with eight wickets still in the bag.

Kitply Cup, 2008

  India had thumped Pakistan by 140 runs in the league stage of this short tri-series in Dhaka, also featuring hosts Bangladesh, but the men in green raised their game in the final, winning by 25 runs. A second-wicket stand of 209 between Salman Butt (129) and Younis Khan (108) was the cornerstone of Pakistan’s 315/3. Despite fifties by M.S Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh, India folded for 290 in 48.2 overs.

Record Book – The lowest total by a Test nation in the Champions Trophy

  New Zealand and Bangladesh, fresh from playing each other in the tri-series in Ireland last month, are set to face off in a Champions Trophy match at Cardiff on the coming Friday. This will be the second time that the two teams will meet in the Champions Trophy; the first instance being in the 2002 edition in Sri Lanka.

  The format back then allowed only one of the three teams in each pool to enter the semifinals, and as it turned out, Australia breezed into the final four from Pool 1, courtesy of resounding wins over New Zealand and Bangladesh. The final pool game between the two losing teams, played at Colombo’s Sinhalese Sports Club Ground on September 23, 2002, was thus reduced to an inconsequential affair.

  New Zealand, looking for consolation after having failed to defend the title they won in 2000, were inserted in to bat on a slow track by Bangladesh’s wicketkeeper-captain Khaled Mashud. Left-arm pacer Manjural Islam provided an early breakthrough for the Tigers, scalping the key wicket of Nathan Astle with the score at 11 in the third over.

  Skipper Stephen Fleming and Matthew Sinclair produced a second-wicket stand of 66 at nearly six an over, before Khaled Mahmud pulled things back with a double strike. The medium pacer first got rid of Fleming, who was looking composed on 31, and then had Lou Vincent caught behind in his next over. New Zealand were now 79/3 in the 16th over and needed someone to play a long innings.

         Scott Styris plays a shot during New Zealand’s innings as Bangladesh captain Khaled Mashud looks on (source – gettyimages/icc-cricket.com)

  Sinclair held fort, but the Bangladeshi bowlers ensured that runs were not easy to come by. The fourth-wicket partnership between Sinclair and Scott Styris had progressed to 40, when the latter was caught short of his crease for a promising 26. This setback further dented the run rate, and even though Sinclair and Chris Harris added 48 for the fifth wicket, their stand consumed 85 balls.

  When Sinclair was sixth out for a stodgy 70 from 122 balls to the part-time leg spin of Mohammad Ashraful, who had already dismissed Harris earlier, the scoreboard read 198 in the 45th over. A final flourish from Jacob Oram, who became Ashraful’s third victim, and Daniel Vettori enabled New Zealand to accumulate 46 runs in the last five overs.

  Yet, it was a commendable effort from Bangladesh to restrict their opponents to 244/7. Manjural and Mahmud bowled with control to take two wickets each, while left-arm spinner Mohammad Rafique returned tidy figures as well. The 18-year-old Ashraful, who had become Test cricket’s youngest centurion a year earlier, finished with a career-best of 3/26.

  The target was by no means a daunting one, but Bangladesh needed to put in a highly improved effort with the bat compared to the game against Australia – in which they had painstakingly crumbled for 129 in the 46th over – if they harboured hopes of notching a rare victory; they came into this match on the back of 19 consecutive ODI defeats.

       Shane Bond ripped through the Bangladeshi top order to set up a crushing win for New Zealand at the 2002 Champions Trophy (source – espncricinfo.com)

   A 20th defeat on the trot was a foregone conclusion just five overs into the Bangladeshi innings. The top order had absolutely no answer to the express pace of Shane Bond, who was in the thick of things from the first over itself when he had Al Sahariar trapped leg-before for a duck. At the other end, Oram sent back the other opener Javed Omar to leave Bangladesh at 8/2 after two overs.

  The ferocious Bond, backed by Fleming’s attacking field, had figures of 3-0-9-4 at this point. Bangladesh had suffered their lowest ODI total at the same ground just over a month earlier, when they were skittled for 76 by Sri Lanka. At 19/5, a bigger embarrassment was on the cards. The top scorer of the innings was Tushar Imran (20), who was sixth out to Oram with the score at 37.

  The last four wickets managed to double the score and also – just – avoid a record ODI low for Bangladesh, but nevertheless, the final outcome made for sorry reading. Kyle Mills and Vettori too chipped in with two wickets apiece, as the Tigers were shot out for 77 in 19.3 overs to concede a 167-run defeat. Bond finished with 4/21 in five overs and was rightly named man of the match.

  Bangladesh’s total of 77 was then the lowest in the Champions Trophy, and till date, remains the lowest by a Test nation in the tournament. In the next edition in 2004, Bangladesh were bowled out for another sub-100 total – 93 against South Africa at Edgbaston. The lowest Champions Trophy total overall is 65 by the United States of America against Australia at Southampton in 2004.

Match Scorecard 

Record Book – The highest ODI total by an Associate nation

  The second match of the recently-concluded ODI series between leading Associate teams Afghanistan and Ireland saw the Afghans rack up 338 on the board, their highest ever ODI total. However, this was only the third-highest total by a non-Test playing team in ODI history; the record still remains with Kenya, who rode roughshod over Bangladesh nearly 20 years ago.

  The Kenya Cricket Association President’s Cup was a triangular tournament played in Nairobi in October 1997, featuring Zimbabwe and Bangladesh besides the hosts. The opening match at the Gymkhana Club Ground on 10th October saw the Kenyans square off against Bangladesh, the team that had beaten them in the thrilling ICC Trophy final in Kuala Lumpur six months earlier.

  This was the first official ODI to be played between the two emerging nations. Akram Khan won the toss for Bangladesh and decided to field first; little did he know that his bowlers were soon going be at the receiving end of a new world record partnership. Opening the innings for Kenya was the right-handed duo of wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno and Dipak Chudasama, a qualified dentist.

  Chudasama became the first Kenyan to score an ODI hundred, going on to make 122 from just 113 balls – studded with 16 fours – and more significantly, shared in a mammoth opening stand of 225 with Otieno. This created a new record for the highest first-wicket partnership in ODIs, going past the 212 added by Australia’s Geoff Marsh and David Boon against India at Jaipur in 1986-87.

  The breakthrough was finally achieved when pace bowler Hasibul Hossain caught Chudasama off his own bowling, but any hopes of respite for Bangladesh were stymied by Otieno, who rushed to a century of his own during the course of a second-wicket stand with Steve Tikolo – who had hit a fine 147 in the ICC Trophy final – that fetched 84 runs.

       Kenyan wicketkeeper Kennedy Otieno scored 144 to help set a strong base for his team against Bangladesh at Nairobi in 1997-98 (source – cricket.com.au)

  Otieno, who was third out at 316, batted three and a half hours for his 144, which took 146 balls and consisted of 12 fours and a six. This remains the highest ODI score by a Kenyan. A final flourish from Maurice Odumbe and Thomas Odoyo swelled the total to 347/3; the previous highest by a non-Test side was Zimbabwe’s 312/4 against Sri Lanka at New Plymouth in the 1992 World Cup.

  All the Bangladeshi bowlers came in for harsh treatment, none more so than off-spinner Sheikh Salahuddin, who returned 0/80 in his ten overs. Openers Athar Ali Khan and Shahriar Hossain gave Bangladesh a sound start by putting on 55, with Athar guiding the score to 100/2 before being caught and bowled by captain Aasif Karim for a well-compiled 61.

  This wicket ended Bangladesh’s resistance, as the Kenyan spinners, spun a web around the rest of the batting. Karim’s left-arm spin fetched him a career-best haul of 5/33 in his ten overs, which remained the national record till 2002-03, when Collins Obuya famously picked 5/24 in a World Cup match against Sri Lanka at the same venue. 

  Bangladesh lost their last eight wickets for only 97 to be bowled out for 197 in 43.4 overs. This 150-run margin was then Kenya’s highest in ODIs, which they bettered in 2006-07 with a 190-run drubbing of Scotland at Mombasa. Otieno was unsurprisingly adjudged as the man of the match. The tournament was eventually won by Zimbabwe, who beat Kenya 2-0 in the best-of-three finals. 

  At that time, the stand of 225 between Otieno and Chudasama was not only the highest for the first wicket, but also the fourth-highest for any wicket. The record was broken within a year, as Indian openers Sourav Ganguly and Sachin Tendulkar stitched together 252 against Sri Lanka at Colombo in 1998. At the current date, it lies in 17th place in the list of highest opening stands in ODIs.

  Kenya’s total of 347/3 however continues to be the highest by an Associate nation in an ODI, though Scotland came close to breaking it with their total of 341/9 against Canada at Christchurch in 2013-14. As far as the highest ODI total by an Associate against a Test-playing nation is concerned, the record is Ireland’s 331/8 against Zimbabwe at Hobart in the 2015 World Cup.

Match Scorecard

Record Book – The oldest cricketer to play an ODI match

  It is common knowledge that Barbados-born Dutch opener Nolan Clarke is the oldest man to appear in an ODI match, having taken the field at the age of 47 years and 257 days against New Zealand at Vadodara in the 1996 World Cup. He had made his debut against South Africa a little over a fortnight earlier, making him the oldest ODI debutant as well.

  However, it is not Clarke who holds the record of being the oldest person to play ODI cricket. Beating him by 98 days is former wicketkeeper-captain of West Indies Women, the intriguingly named Stephanie Power. Born in Trinidad and Tobago, Power was 47 years and 355 days old in her last ODI, against South Africa at Pretoria in 2004-05.

  The match in which Power actually surpassed Clarke’s nine-year record was also played in Pretoria – a league match of the 2005 World Cup against New Zealand. She remained the West Indian captain till the end of her career, having first taken over the reins at the age of 46 in 2003 – making her the oldest ever international captain on captaincy debut in any format.

  Power made her ODI debut back in 1993, in a World Cup game against Australia at Tunbridge Wells. She was the second-highest scorer with 23 in a measly West Indian total of 131/9, but she never really took off in the batting department as her career progressed. In her 22 innings from 34 ODIs, she totalled 183 runs at 8.31, with a best of 28.

stephanie-power

      Stephanie Power showed that age is just a number when she captained the West Indies for the first time at the age of 46 (source – windiescricket.com/randy brooks)

  Her Test average was better, albeit she played only a solitary Test, against Pakistan at Karachi in 2003-04. This was the match in which Pakistani opener Kiran Baluch scored 242, creating a new record for the highest score in a Women’s Test. Power, who was not keeping wickets, scored 19 and 57, the latter playing a part in saving her side after they were made to follow on 279 in arrears.

  On the same tour of Pakistan, Power enjoyed her first series success as captain, leading the West Indies to a 5-2 win in the seven-match ODI series. Never before had the West Indian eves won a bilateral ODI series. A second win came in a three-match affair in South Africa in 2004-05 – her final international outing – with the victory margin being 2-1. 

  Under her leadership, the Windies finished runners up, behind Ireland, at the World Cup qualifiers in 2003 and then beat Sri Lanka and Ireland at the 2005 World Cup, which was a significant improvement as they had failed to make the cut for the previous edition in 2000. These achievements make her one of the most successful female captains from the Caribbean.

  Following her 12-year international playing career, Power, who is also a qualified physical education teacher, went on to become an acclaimed coach in the West Indies as well as the United States. She has been a key part of the West Indies Women team’s coaching staff and was the first female inductee in the USA Cricket Hall of Fame in 2015.

  It would take something extraordinary in order to break Power’s records of being the oldest ODI cricketer and the oldest international captain on captaincy debut. Since her retirement, no cricketer, female or male, has played an international match after the age of 45.