The second ICC Champion’s Trophy, this time under the title of the ICC Knockout Trophy, was played in Kenya. After the massive success of the first tournament in Bangladesh, tournament organisers would’ve been hoping for similar excitement among Kenya crowds. Unfortunately, in one of the few criticisms of the tournament, local interest in the games was low.
The number of teams that automatically qualified for the tournament was reduced from seven to just five, creating three spots in the main draw which would be up for grabs in the qualifying round. The teams that automatically qualified were Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, leaving six teams to fight it out for the other three spots. It was a tough group to get through to make it to the tournament; India, England, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, West Indies, and Kenya. After the qualifying matches, India, Sri Lanka, and England claimed the three remaining spots.
The first of the tournament’s knockout games was between India and Australia. India were first to bat and would make 265 off their 50 overs, with Yuvraj Singh’s Man of the Match performance leading the way as he hit 84. In Australia’s reply, their openers fell early before they fought back. Eventually, they would come close but fell short after being bowled out for 245. Zaheer Khan was the pick of the Indian bowlers, taking two wickets for 40 runs. Defeating a very good Australian side established India as the team to beat. They lived up to this favouritism, making the final after a 95-run win over another strong team in the form of South Africa in the semi-final.
New Zealand’s first game of the tournament took place on October 9th against Zimbabwe, the only team they had beaten at that point in Champion’s Trophy history. New Zealand were first to bat and were initially rattle as Nathan Astle fell for a duck in the second over. The second wicket partnership of 53 between Craig Spearman and Stephen Fleming started build the innings, before Roger Twose came in and played a hand in two useful partnerships with Chris Carins (51) and Craig McMillan (95). McMillan hit 52 off 51 balls while Twose, in a Man of the Match display, shone bright and anchored the innings in making 85. With Adam Parore adding 20 off 8 balls to end the innings, New Zealand made 265 for 7 from the 50 overs. In reply, Zimbabwe never threatened with the bat, often losing wickets in bunches – including their last six wickets for just 47 runs. New Zealand would win comfortably by 64 runs with Paul Wiseman the pick of the bowlers, taking 4-45.
The nature of the tournament effectively meant these opening games were quarter-finals. In the other matches through this stage, Pakistan beat Sri Lanka by 9 wickets and South Africa beat England by 8 wickets. These results meant the semi-finals would see South Africa play India and New Zealand play Pakistan. That match-up would instantly make any New Zealander with memories of the 1992 World Cup nervous.
Two days after New Zealand’s win over Zimbabwe, they faced Pakistan in the semi-final. They went into the match missing one of their stars, as Chris Cairns sat out the match with an injured knee. After winning the toss, Pakistan elect to bat first – a decision which was justified as they passed 100 for the loss of just one wicket. However, from there, things slowed down as three wickets fell for 32 runs with Chris Harris and Nathan Astle bowling in tandem. Abdul Razzaq and Wasim Akram built a stand of 59 before the last four wickets fell for only 15 runs. Pakistan failed to bat their overs out, making 252 in 49.2 overs. Opening batsman, Saeed Anwar, watched the wickets fall around him in hitting a fine century, 104 off 145 balls. The standout bowler for New Zealand was Shayne O’Connor who would take his second five wicket bag in ODI’s with 5 for 46 – including the last four wickets to fall.
In New Zealand’s innings things got off to a nervous start after they fell to 15 for 2 inside four overs. A steady partnership between Astle and Twose pushed the BLACKCAPS through to 150 at the 30 over mark when Astle fell for 49. Twose went soon after for another handy 87 but McMillan added another 50 and an unbroken 68* run partnership with Scott Styris saw New Zealand to victory with an over to spare.
The victory saw New Zealand through to the final to face the imposing Indian side that had accounted for the big guns of Australia and South Africa. In their semi-final against South Africa, Sourav Ganguly highlighted his class in hitting the highest individual score of the tournament with 141* off 142 balls. The Indian line-up also included Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble, and the legend that is Sachin Tendulkar.
The final would take place on the 15th October in Nairobi. It was the first toss of the tournament that Stephen Fleming had won and he decided that New Zealand would bowl. Early on, the decision seemed like the wrong one as India got off to a flyer: their openers taking them past 140 in under 27 overs. In his innings of 69, Sachin Tendulkar became the leading ODI run scorer. While India’s top three batsmen set a great platform, getting the team to 200 for 1 with more than 13 overs to bat, the middle order could not keep the momentum going and lost four wickets in the last eight overs to finish on 264 for 6. Ganguly, the Indian captain, again led the way with another fine knock, hitting 117, but had his team scored enough or had the fight back from New Zealand’s medium-pacers tilted the game in the BLACKCAPS’ favour?
In New Zealand’s reply they couldn’t have got off to a worse start as they lost Spearman and Fleming inside the first 6 overs – although losing early wickets had been a feature of their tournament. As they did in the previous match, Astle and Twose showed some fight, hitting 37 and 31 respectively. But it wasn’t until Chris cairns came onto bat that the game really started to head New Zealand’s way. Cairns, returning from his knee injury, was still not 100% fit but he fought hard to put on a 121-run partnership for the sixth wicket with Chris Harris. When Harris fell for 46, New Zealand needed ten runs off nine balls. With Adam Parore immediately in strike rotation mode, Cairns brought up his century, finishing on 102* as New Zealand reached the target with only two balls to spare.
Suddenly Chris got goosebumps. He realised that they were going to win
– Hamish McDouall in Chris Cairns’ biography
Cairns was an obvious selection for Man of the Match as New Zealand won their first ICC tournament. The victory came with US$250,000 winner’s cheque – part of the largest prize pool in ODI history, totalling a million US dollars.
Unfortunately for New Zealand, the win did not translate into a new era for the team as their next 13 ODIs produced 11 losses and a solitary win.