The sixth instalment of the Champions Trophy should have been played in 2008 as the tournament was intended to be played every two years, on either side of World Cups. The 2008 ICC Champions Trophy was scheduled for Pakistan but was postponed after five of the eight attending teams indicated they would not play due to security fears – in the 12 months prior, more than 1000 innocent Pakistan citizens had been killed in suicide bomb attacks from Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants. South Africa led the withdrawals and, less than three weeks from the tournament opener, the ICC announced it would be postponed until September-October 2009 – but that Pakistan would still host.

In late 2008, the West Indies and India both cancelled tours to Pakistan and it became evident that security fears around playing in the country were not going to be alleviated in hurry. In February 2009, the ICC responded to this by announcing that Pakistan’s hosting rights had been rescinded. At that stage, no new host was announced.

A month later, on March 3 2009, the security fears around playing in Pakistan were made all too real. The touring Sri Lankan team were the target of a violent and sustained attack from militants in the city of Lahore. The Sri Lankan team bus, carrying players and officials to Day 3 of their Test against Pakistan, was set upon by 12 masked and heavily-armed men. The attack resulted in the deaths of eight people and, while no players were killed, many were injured.

For some reason I moved my head to get a better view and a split second later I felt a bullet fizz past my ear into the vacant seat.
-Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lankan batsman

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Following this attack, the ICC moved quickly to announce that South Africa would host the 2009 Champions Trophy tournament. Even with the new host, the ICC committed the tournament’s revenue to Pakistan. Sri Lanka were the preferred option to take on the 2009 tournament but, with a desire to stick to the dates announced in 2008, weather concerns around Sri Lanka’s monsoon season proved too great an obstacle.

The tournament would take the same format as the 2006 tournament, with two pools made up from the top eight teams at the time:

Group AGroup B
AustraliaNew Zealand
PakistanEngland
IndiaSri Lanka
West IndiesSouth Africa
2009 ICC Champions Trophy
Brendon McCullum and Daryl Tuffey celebrate the wicket of Mark Boucher during the ICC Champions Trophy (PHOTO:Trevor Kolk/African Press Photo Agency/Sportzpics)

The BLACKCAPS faced South Africa in New Zealand’s first game at SuperSport Park, Centurion on the 24th of September. Continuing the visitor’s terrible record of toss losses in the tournament, South Africa won the toss and put the BLACKCAPS in to bat. With Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder opening the batting another tournament trend returned – an early wicket – as South Africa’s decision to bowl paid off early with Ryder out in the 4th over for just 8.

McCullum and Martin Guptill put on a 46-run partnership before Guptill fell for 21. Joined by Ross Taylor, McCullum made 44, followed by 39 for Grant Elliott. From that point, the BLACKCAPS’ total relied on the contribution of Taylor who made 72, but no one was able to support him and New Zealand were all out for 214 inside the 50 overs. Wayne Parnell claimed his first five-wicket bag for South Africa, taking 5 wickets for 57 runs.

The BLACKCAPS would take the wicket of Graeme Smith early, chipping a ball from Daryl Tuffey straight to mid-on sand into the hands of Daniel Vettori. Although Daniel Vettori held up one end with just 34 runs off his 10 overs, the BLACKCAP bowlers struggled to find wickets as South Africa continued building partnerships.

Tuffey would get another wicket to finish with 2 for 52 but South Africa were too strong with the bat, especially AB de Villiers who scored 70*. South Africa would reach the BLACKCAPS’ total with 9 overs to spare. Parnell was named Man of the Match for his outstanding bowling. In something of a surprise, this would be South Africa’s only win of the tournament. They would finish last in Group B.

The BLACKCAPS next game was against Sri Lanka on the 27th of September. Again, New Zealand lost the toss and were asked to bat. Thankfully, this time, McCullum and Ryder got off to a flying start: putting 125 before Ryder was caught for 74 from just 58 balls. Ryder’s effort was all the more impressive for the fact he suffered a tournament-ending pulled muscle early in his innings. McCullum would go soon after on 46 with the BLACKCAPS 128 for 2 but other batsmen kept contributing to allow New Zealand to build a better total than they had against South Africa.

Martin Guptill put on a fine 6th-wicket partnership with Vettori of 69, until Vettori (48) chipped a ball straight to the fielder at long on. Guptill kept scoring steadily to reach 66 before James Franklin (28) and Kyle Mills (18) added valuable runs at the tail. The BLACKCAPS posting 315 for 7 wickets as Sanath Jayasuriya took 3 for 39 to be the best of the Sri Lankan bowlers.

The Sri Lankan openers would also get off to a flying start, bring up 50 runs in just 35 balls, but both would fall soon after.  Mahela Jayawardene was the star of the batting effort, scoring 77 – the highest score across both innings. While he manged to build small partnerships through the innings, Nuwan Kulasekara became the key to helping get Sri Lanka across the line. The pair put on a 7th-wicket partnership of 78 before Jayawardene was deceived and bowled by a Vettori quicker ball.

Kulasekara would finish on 57*, but this was not enough for Sri Lanka who lost by 38 runs. Both of the BLACKCAPS opening bowlers were punished, with Shane Bond going for 82 runs from his nine overs without a wicket. While Kyle Mills was hit for 69 runs, he managed to take 3 wickets. Daryl Tuffey, James Franklin, and Vettori – in a Man of the Match performance – each snagged two wickets.

The third and final match of the group stage was a must win for the BLACKCAPS if they were to advance through to the semi-final stage. Their opponents, England, had already secured their spot having won their previous two games. With Sri Lanka, South Africa, and New Zealand each having won a single match, a BLACKCAPS’ win could even give them a chance to go through as top of the group.

The match took place on the 29th of September at the New Wanderers Stadium.  In something of a rarity, the BLACKCAPS got off to a good start by winning the toss and immediately reaping reward from their decision to to put England into bat. With just his second ball, Kyle Mills took the wicket of Andrew Strauss. Three overs later, Shane Bond clean bowled Joe Denly three overs later, and it didn’t take him long to get another as England fell to 13 for 3 at just the 6 over mark. A 37-run partnership for the fourth wicket between Eoin Morgan and Paul Collingwood was the only fight that England produced against a BLACKCAPS bowling attack that was on song on the day.

England were bowled out for just 146 inside 44 overs as Grant Elliott took 4 for 31 to register his best bowling performance and earn Man of the Match honours. Bond’s 3 for 21 were the next best figures, although Mills, who only took one wicket, was arguably the best on show in only going for 19 runs from his 10 overs.

The BLACKCAPS would be confident in reaching chasing the English total as they hadn’t scored under 200 in their previous matches. McCullum (48) and Guptill (53) opened the batting and pushed New Zealand a long way to the total as the pair took the BLACKCAPS to 113 for 2 after 19 overs. Although victory looked a formality, Stuart Broad bowled well and put the BLACKCAPS under pressure in claiming 4 for 39.

New Zealand were still able to complete a comfortable win with four wickets and almost half the overs remaining. The commanding win gave the BLACKCAPS the much needed two points to advance to the semi-finals and saw them qualify top with a better net run rate than England.

2009 ICC Champions Trophy
Ian Butler celebrating one for his four wickets against Pakistan. (PHOTO: Trevor Kolk/African Press Photo Agency/Sportzpics)

In the first semi-final, England faced the defending champions, Australia. Although England’s total of 257 wasn’t huge, it should’ve been more competitive than it was. Australia cruised to a 9-wicket win behind two massive centuries by Shane Watson (136*) and Ricky Ponting (111*). All that was left was for New Zealand to set up a trans-Tasman final.

The second semi-final saw the BLACKCAPS up against Pakistan at New Wanderers Stadium on the 3rd of October. Pakistan won the toss and decided that they would bat first, making a good start in not losing their first wicket until the 10th over. However, once the first one fell, they lost 4 for 40 runs until Mohammad Yousuf (37) and Umar Akmal (42) stopped the flow of wickets and put on an 80-run partnership for the 5th wicket.

Akmal would go onto to make 55, but no one else stood up with the bat before the tail enders, Mohammad Amir and Saeed Ajmal, added valuable runs scoring 19 and 14 respectively to get Pakistan to 233. Ian Butler was the pick of the BLACKCAPS’ bowlers with 4 for 44 while Vettori was a close second, taking 3 for 43. While Pakistan’s 233 was a respectable total, the only teams who had defended first innings totals in the tournament had done so with scores of 300+.

Could the BLACKCAPS chase down this total to reach their first Champions Trophy final since 2000?

Aaron Redmond, making his ODI debut, opened the batting and saw McCullum (17) and Guptill (11) go inside 10 overs. Redmond fought his way through to 31 off 55 balls before getting out, which brought Grant Elliott to the crease. Batting alongside Ross Taylor, the pair would put a partnership of 55 before Taylor was clean bowled by Shahid Afridi. Vettori was next in and the good form he had shown through the tournament continued as he and Elliott put on a 104-run partnership for the 5th wicket. Although Vettori fell for 41, just 4 runs were required for victory and Elliott’s 75* led the BLACKCAPS to the Pakistan total with 13 balls and 5 wickets remaining. Vettori was, again, named Man of the Match for his all-round performance.

2009 ICC Champions Trophy
Aaron Redmond in action with Tim Payne crying for a catch. PHOTO : Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT

The final showdown would take place on the 5th October 2009 and it would be the fourth time that Australia and the BLACKCAPS had played each other in the Champions Trophy, but the first time in a final.

The BLACKCAPS were dealt a serious blow to their hopes before the toss as Daniel Vettori, their inspirational captain, was ruled out with a hamstring injury suffered during warm-ups. For a side that had already seen Jacob Oram, Daryl Tuffey, and Jesse Ryder head home, this was the cruellest hand of fate.

In just his second ODI as New Zealand captain, Brendon McCullum, won the toss and decided to bat. He was the first to really rue that decision as he left the crease after facing 14 balls for a duck – the longest nought of his career. Of the top five, only Redmond (26) and Guptill (40) reached double-figures, leaving the middle-order to bat with the tail in trying to build a competitive total. They would eventually reach 200 for 9 after 50 overs. Nathan Hauritz was the pick of the Australian bowlers with 3 for 37.

Mills and Bond opened the bowling and Bond found success early, taking the wicket of Tim Paine in the 2nd over for just 1. Things got even better for the BLACKCAPS when Mills struck in the very next over – claiming the ever-dangerous Ricky Ponting, also for 1.

While things were very looking good for the BLACKCAPS with Australia at 6 for 2, that was as good as it got.

Shane Watson carried his batting form from the semi-final and was unstoppable in scoring an unbeaten 105, leading Australia to a 6-wicket win. Watson was backed up by Cameron White, who hit 62, but it could’ve been a different story had McCullum held a skied catch from Watson when the batsman was on just 15.

Watson was named Man of the Match in the final with the Australian’s claiming another victory as their skipper, Ponting, took the Player of the Tournament award. Ponting was also top run-scorer with 288, while Wayne Parnell of South Africa was the top wicket-taker with 11.

2009 ICC Champions Trophy
Australia on the winners podium. PHOTO : Anton de Villiers / PHOTOSPORT