Following last time’s Y Team, we come to the QUXZ supergroup.
Is this an ICC Champions Trophy or an ICC Upsets Trophy?
Well, this edition of the ICC Champions Trophy has every reason to be called as an ICC Upsets Trophy, especially after England were humiliated at the hands of Pakistan in the first semi-final at Cardiff.
The results we have come across since Pakistan defeated South Africa have been surprising and shocking and certainly have made a mockery of predictions and analysis from cricket experts. The Champions Trophy and the results were going exactly as expected until that England-New Zealand game last Tuesday.
But the next three days saw a big turnaround that shook up the cricketing world, throwing the Champions Trophy wide open. All of a sudden, the teams that started off as reigning favourites were at the crossroads of an early exit.
If we closely look at the previous 50-over tournaments, all the teams were more or less of similar pedigree, but this time around, there was quite a significant difference in class, experience and team balance in between top teams like England, India, South Africa, Australia and lower ranked teams like Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
The fact the tournament is being held in England nullified whatever advantage Bangladesh and Sri Lanka could have had if the tournament was played in the subcontinent. If you closely observed the events before this turnaround, there was no way one could have imagined these results.
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Pakistan were comprehensively beaten in every department against India in their first match, but what followed was quite remarkable. They made South Africa’s formidable batting dance to their tunes in what was an inspiring display of bowling and then held their nerves with the bat in a rain-affected match.
We saw completely contrasting Pakistan sides turning up against India and South Africa. Even though they barely scampered home against Sri Lanka the other day and qualified for the semis, did they stand any chance against formidable, undefeated England?
Certainly not. At least that’s what many cricketing experts thought.
But what happened in the semis? Pakistan not only defeated England and made it to the Champions Trophy final for the first time, they simply annihilated the hosts when almost everyone thought the result would be the other way around.
Pakistan’s journey to Champions Trophy Final is certainly incredible, considering the fact they struggled to qualify for the tournament in the first place.
It’s a similar story for Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
Sri Lanka too were outplayed by Proteas in the first game and were not in the contest until they were batting. Set to chase a stiff total of 322, Danushka Gunathilaka, Kusal Mendis, Thisara Perera and the skipper Angelo Matthews orchestrated a brilliant run chase that could very well go down as their finest hour in recent times.
Bangladesh’s victory was much more memorable and sweeter considering the fact that they were once teetering at 4/33. In the end, it was a very commanding victory, led by their senior pros Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah, who stitched a massive 224-run fifth wicket partnership.
We have second semi-final coming up, between India and Bangladesh, any comments or predictions? I don’t. Just let’s wait, watch and enjoy this cricketing festival!