Cricket fans all over the world are due for a treat in the Champions Trophy, 2009, currently being held in South Africa from 22 nd, September.Considered as a mini world cup, the Champions Trophy is being held among the 8 leading cricket playing countries whose ICC cricket rating is below 8.
Champions Trophy cricket tournament is being played on limited overs basis restricted to 50 overs, once in two years.The eight participating teams have been divided into two groups, each consisting of four teams.While the Group A includes teams like India, Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies, the Group B consists of teams like South Africa, Sri Lanka, New Zealand and England.
Each team of Group A as well as Group B will play the other teams in the same group on a knock out basis.The winning team will earn 2 points and for a tie or an abandoned match each team will be awarded with 1 point.The top two teams in each group by virtue of their point score will be eligible to play in the Semifinals.The topper in the Group A will play in the Semifinal with the second placed team in the Group B and the topper in the Group B will play in the Semifinal with the second placed team in the Group A.The winners of the Semifinals will be pitted against each other in the Final to be played at Centurian.The winner in the final will become the champion and hold aloft the glittering Champions Trophy,2009.
Now a few words about the profile and prospect of each participating team in the tournament.The Group ‘A’ consisting of teams like India, Pakistan, Australia and the West Indies is considered as the strongest group.As far as India is concerned, it is considered as the in-form team since it has recently won the Compac Cup, defeating Sri Lanka in the final.The Indian team is fairly well balanced with old horses like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid with years of experience behind them, a dynamic leader in M.S Dhoni, spin wizards like Harabajan Singh and Amit Misra, and with medium pacers like Ashish Nehra, Ishant Sharma, other match winners like Yuvaraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and Virat Kohli.But unfortunately Yuvaraj Singh, due to his injury, has been ruled out from the tournament.It is definitely a set back for India.
Pakistan team is fairly strong with the tag of T20 World Champion and is a bunch of experienced players like Younis, Afridi and Misbah besides with a number of enthusiastic youngsters and fast bowlers. Pakistan remains motivated and is ready to face the challenge from Indian team on 26 th of September, in the Group A match.
The Australian team with its morale boosting 7-0 whitewash against England besides its recently regained No.1 ranking among the ODI teams will try to prove its credentials once again.However, Australia has a set back in losing Nathen Bracken as a strike bowler from the team, due to his injury. However, the team has strong players in Hussey, Clarke, the inspiring captain Ricky Ponting and some accurate fast bowlers.
The West Indies is the weakling in the Group A, without its senior players and only with some promising youngsters.They have already lost their match with Pakistan.
The Group ‘B’ is equally good with strong contenders. South Africa, besides enjoying the home advantage, is led by an inspiring, young and experienced captain Smith, besides having class fast bowlers like Styne and other match winners. Sri Lanka, has the old war horse in Jaya Suriya, besides other experienced players like Dilshan, Jayawardane,Samaraweera, two classic spinners in Muralidharan and Mendis, led by their inspiring captain and wicket Keeper Sangakara. Sri Lanka were up beat by defeating South Africa in their Group match, but lost to England yesterday by six wickets.New Zealand led by their fine captain Daniel Vettori has a bunch of experienced players like Jesse Rider, Ross Taylor, Jacob Oram and the pace sensation in Bond.
Considering the team performances so far, in both Groups, it appears that Pakistan and Australia or India will qualify for the Semifinal in Group A and England and Sri Lanka or New Zealand may qualify for semifinal in Group B.
If the above semifinal line up is clicked, per haps it may be a final between South Africa and India or South Africa and Pakistan or South Africa and Australia or India and Pakistan. Who knows? I am not ready to bet, because cricket is such a classic game of uncertainty.