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Monday, 24 June 2013

Champions Trophy: The Top Performers

The last edition of the Champions Trophy was unsurprisingly dominated by personnel of the two finalists, India and England.

              Ravichandran Ashwin (India): It's hard living up to sky-high expectations each time you take the field. But the star off-spinner played his role to perfection. Ashwin was in full flow as the tournament reached its decisive stages, and brilliant in the final, where he proved impossible to score off while also taking key wickets.

     MS Dhoni (India): Six years as captain. Two World Cups. One Champions Trophy. The No.1 status in Tests and ODIs. The right to cock a snook at colonial cricketing structures. If Dhoni retired with immediate effect his place in the pantheon of all-time great captains will still be a safe bet.

    Shikhar Dhawan (India): Nathulal's twirling upper lip growth is no longer the benchmark of the Indian male's virility. That honour now belongs to Dhawan, the tournament's top scorer, plunderer of two hundreds and shots that defied both gravity and imagination.
  Bhuvneshwar Kumar (India): Mere figures don't do justice to the quality this young swing bowler from Meerut brings to the team. Bhuvneshwar was unerringly accurate throughout the tournament, especially to left-handers, and finished with an economy rate of 3.91 in five matches.

   Virat Kohli (India):This stormy petrel from New Delhi was the ideal No.3 coming in after a solid opening partnership. Kohli saved his best for the final where his neat 43 helped India post a competitive total from a hopeless situation.

     Ravi Bopara (England): The part-timer's three wickets and miserly bowling set india on the backfoot in the final. Bopara then threatened to take the match away with murderous hitting. It was a pity that he got out to a needless stroke after doing all the hard work.
       Lasith Malinga (Sri Lanka): Erratic and not really 'in it', one spell of fast bowling is all we'll remember of Malinga from the tournament. Four searing yorkers claimed as many victims as Lanka almost pipped the Kiwis to the post, in a low-scoring league thriller. Unfortunately, the slinger did little else of note.

   Alastair Cook (England): Captain Cook got his team to the final, which was no mean feat. That he also looked to stir things up opening the innings only worked to England's advantage. Cook had two fifties and scored runs all through at a forgivable strike rate of almost 80.
  Ryan McLaren (South Africa): The fast bowling all-rounder was one of the few positives as his team floundered in yet another tournament. McLaren's four-for destroyed Pakistan in the league phase and his fireworks with the bat reduced the margin of the loss to India.

   Ishant Sharma (India): A topsy-turvy tournament is what the gangly, disheveled bowler had. He turned in a brilliant spell in the semifinal against Sri Lanka. In the final, Ishant's waywardness appeared to have cost India the trophy, but he struck crucial blows by removing the well-set Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara for a dramatic win.

   James Anderson (England): The fast bowling spearhead was expectedly brilliant in home conditions, although the ball didn't swing as much as anticipated. Anderson took 11 wickets and was in top form against South Africa in the semifinal with figures of 8-1-14-2.
    Mitchell McClenaghan (New Zealand): The left-arm fast bowler maintained his uncanny knack of picking up wickets, taking 11, including two four-wicket hauls, in just three matches.

   Ravindra Jadeja (India): The only active 'knighted' cricketer in the world, Sir Jadeja, under the unwavering faith of captain MS Dhoni, was the tournament's top wicket taker and winner of the Golden Ball. He also struck two match-deciding cameos, was electric in the field and provided Dhawan with stiff competition on the follicular front.
    Mahela Jayawardene (Sri Lanka): Another veteran came to the fore for the islanders. A string of cameos and an unbeaten 84 in a league match versus Australia stood out in a tournament dominated by bowlers.
    Joe Root (England): Baby-faced Oshkosh B'gosh is shaping up into a decent ODI batsman, as was evident from his sparkling 68 versus Sri Lanka. Give him some time and Root is likely to burrow himself into England's team for shorter formats.
  Misbah ul Haq (Pakistan): Being the team's captain and most successful batsman wasn't enough as Pakistan lost all three games. There was very little that Misbah could do as repeated batting collapses marked his team's sorry tournament.

   Rohit Sharma (India): The right-handed half of India's opening enterprise, Rohit looked comfortable in English conditions and provided Shikhar Dhawan with an ideal foil. He finished with two fifties from five matches.

   Kumar Sangakkara (Sri Lanka): The veteran southpaw reversed his dismal IPL form to guide his team into the semifinals. Sangakkara was at his commanding best against England as he scored an unbeaten 134 in a must-win league encounter.

   Jonathan Trott (England): Trott was his side's most reliable batsman as he finished with a healthy average of 57 at a strike rate of above 90. Unfortunately, he was stumped down the leg side at a crucial stage in the final.


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