2002 saw the third edition of the ICC Champions Trophy – the first to be played under that name.  The tournament structure had changed from the previous knockout style and would now be played across four pools of three teams who would play each other once.  Among the 12 teams to feature, the ten Test-playing nations received automatic qualification, while the other two spots were taken by Kenya, who had full ODI status, and the Netherlands, who had won the 2001 ICC Trophy to gain their spot, not only in this tournament but also the 2003 Cricket World Cup.

Hosted in Colombo, Sri Lanka, tournament matches were hosted between R Premadasa Stadium and the Sinhalese Sports Complex. With the 2003 World Cup just five months away, the organisers did themselves no favours in the scheduling of the Champions Trophy, while the extended format also led to a large number of mismatches. While the potential existed for this tournament to be a stepping stone to World Cup glory, the pitches and conditions would say otherwise. Played on low and slow tracks, which would be a completely different to the World Cup pitches in South Africa, the pitches at the two venues deteriorated rapidly through the large amount of cricket played on them. In the end, it proved true that the tournament would be in no way a guide to World Cup form.

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New Zealand’s first game was against a very good Australian side on the 15th of September. After winning the toss and deciding to bat, all of Australia’s top six batsman would reach 20 or more, although Damien Martyn was the only one to pass 50. Shane Bond claimed Martyn for 73 as Australia made 296. None of the New Zealand bowlers really stood out but Australia’s score could’ve been much higher without the miserly efforts of Daniel Vettori. In claiming 1 for 25 off his ten overs, Vettori was easily the pick of the New Zealand bowlers – no one else went for less than five runs per over.

New Zealand’s batting would never recover from losing Nathan Astle for a duck in the second over. The BLACKCAPS lost wickets on a regular basis, struggling through to 82 for 9, before a stubborn last wicket stand between Bond and Kyle Mills put on 51 – the pair being the highest scorers in the innings. Unfortunately, their effort couldn’t help New Zealand get anywhere near the Australian’s total as they were bowled out for just 132 inside 27 overs – the innings only lasted 132 minutes. As was often the case in trans-Tasman clashes of the era, New Zealand was torn apart by the duo of Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee, taking 5-37 and 3-38 respectively.

New Zealand’s next game was against a Bangladesh side still finding their way in international cricket – at that point they had recorded just three ODI wins. Like the BLACKCAPS, Bangladesh were coming off a loss to the Australians, having been soundly defeated by nine wickets only four days earlier. Bangladesh won the toss and chose to bowl, with their quick bowlers initially making the decision look like a poor one as New Zealand reached 50 in the 9th over. From that point, Bangladesh’s slow bowlers would bring the run rate down, frustrating the New Zealanders. While most of the batsman would get a fair start, only Mathew Sinclair converted that into a decent score, although his innings of 70 off 122 balls would be described by Wisden as “tortuous”. Mohammad Ashraful was the pick of the Bangladesh bowlers with 3-26 off five overs as New Zealand made 244 off their 50 overs.

Bangladesh’s innings was, to put it mildly, disastrous. By the 11th over they were 46 for 7, before their last three wickets fought for another 9 overs and 30 runs to be all out for just 77 in the 20th over. Tushar Imran making 20, off just 16 balls, was the highest score among their batsmen as they surprised their previous lowest ODI score by a single run. The pace of Shane bond absolutely tore through Bangladesh’s batting line-up, taking 4-21 off just 5 overs. Daniel Vettori would back up his opening match effort with another handy outing, taking 2-10 off just 3.3 overs. New Zealand won the match by 167 runs which remains the BLACKCAPS biggest winning margin in terms of runs. In spite of the convincing win, New Zealand would not progress through to the finals as only the top team in each pool moved on. With their big victories over New Zealand and Bangladesh, Australia advanced to a semi-final with the hosts, Sri Lanka.

 

The match of the semis would pit India against South Africa. After winning the toss and deciding to bat, India made 261 for 9. India’s top seven all made double figures with Yuvraj Singh (62), Virender Sehwag (59) and Rahul Dravid (49) the pick of their batsmen. For South Africa, Shaun Pollock stared with the ball, claiming 3 for 43 as he stopped India’s late charge towards 300.

Things got exciting when it was South Africa’s turn to bat, with a second wicket partnership of 178 between Herschelle Gibbs and Jacques Kallis making the run-chase look like a formality. However, in the 37th over, Gibbs left the field as cramp in both hands forced him to retire hurt on 116 and with just 70 runs required. With Kallis still in on 64, South Africa would’ve still backed their batting line-up to complete the task at hand. It wasn’t to be as South Africa lost two wickets in the 38th over and fell 10 runs short, in spite of Kallis’ 97 and Gibbs’ earlier effort. Sehwag was named Man of the Match for his 59 with the bat and 3-25 with the ball – the last three wickets to fall.

The other semi would see the fancied and somewhat unpopular Australians thrashed at the hands of Sri Lanka, bowled out for 162 with Shane Warne high scoring (36). Sri Lanka would cruise to the target losing just three wickets in 40 overs. The result set up a sub-continental final: India versus Sri Lanka.

Unfortunately, the Champions Trophy would finish on a damp note as scheduling the tournament at the tail-end of the monsoon season came back to haunt organisers. Batting first in the final, on the 29th of September, Sri Lanka would score 244 for 5 with Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara making 74 and 54 respectively. Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the Indian bowlers, taking 3-27. India’s reply would last just two overs before heavy rain resulted in the abonnement of the game.

Although organisers had factored in a reserve day, it would leave them wondering if they had in fact, scheduled Groundhog Day. Again batting first, Sri Lanka made 222 for 7 with Mahela Jayawardene and Russell Arnold scoring 50s. India’s innings would last a little longer in the replay, they got through to 38 for 1 in the 9th over before heavy rain again intervened.

This would see Sri Lanka and India being named joint winners.