The ICC Champions Trophy is only second in importance to the World Cup according to the International Cricket Council (ICC). But for the countries such as South Africa, England, New Zealand and Bangladesh that have never won the coveted ICC Cricket World Cup trophy, the Champions Trophy is a great way to etch their name in a tournament which is dubbed as a mini-World Cup. South African captain, AB de Villiers, is aware of that and has expressed to be “desperate” to win the upcoming Champions Trophy 2017. “I haven’t won one of these trophies in my career, so I am pretty desperate to win one, and we will do anything we can to get out on top,” he said recently in an interview.

Champions Trophy’s inception took place back in 1998 as ICC Knockout trophy and South Africa were the champions in the inaugural edition and it was pre-de Villiers’ era. The first edition of Champions Trophy was termed Wills International Cup and South Africa’s all-rounder Jacques Kallis dominated with both bat and ball. He was the second leading run-scorer of the tournament behind Philo Wallace with 164 runs and leading wicket-taker with eight scalps in three matches. His figures of 5 for 30 in the final against West Indies still remains one of the best bowling spells of the Champions Trophy.

Let’s go through the best five bowling spells in the last seven editions of ICC Champions Trophy:

5) Jacques Kallis  5 for 30 v West Indies 1998 

The all-rounder was the stand-out player for the Proteas in the 1998 Knockout Trophy and his contribution was vital in South Africa’s victory in the tournament. In South Africa’s opener against England, Kallis displayed an excellent bowling performance as he had picked up three wickets. In the semi-final against Sri Lanka, although he went wicketless, he had compensated with the bat by scoring a century. However, he had reserved his best input for the final against the West Indies. South Africa won the toss and out West Indies to bat first. The Proteas fast bowler Steve Elworthy drew first blood in the sixth over when he removed the West Indian opener, Clayton Lambert.

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After the early dismissal of the opener, the Windies tried to recover in the final. The likes of Chanderpaul, Wallace and Hooper built partnerships at some point before Kallis struck West Indies with a destructive spell. Other West Indian opener, Wallace, brought up a fighting hundred before he was dismissed by South African skipper Hansie Cronje in the 35th over. Three overs later, Keith Arthurton became Kallis’ first victim. He was trapped leg before wicket and left Windies at 193 for 5. A couple of overs later, Phil Simmons was caught by one of the arguably best fielders of all-time, Jonty Rhodes at 213 for 6. Meanwhile, middle-order batsman Carl Hooper who was slowing nearing an excellent fifty was Kallis’ next prey.

His catch once again went into the safe hands of Rhodes and Hooper was forced to go back for a score of 49 off 56 balls. The new man in, Rawl Lewis, was dismissed for a golden duck and Kallis was on a hat-trick with Ridley Jacobs on the strike. Fortunate for the Caribbean’s Kallis was denied a hat-trick as Jacobs and Reon King struck around for a while. In the penultimate over, the wicketkeeper-batsman Jacobs was removed by Cronje before Kallis bundled South Africa out for 245 when he dismissed the last batsman King on the third ball of the final over. Kallis ended with terrific numbers of 5 for 30 and eventually that cost West Indies the final.

4) Mervyn Dillon 5 for 29 v Bangladesh 2004

The fast bowler’s five wickets in an innings during the 2004 ICC Champions Trophy has remained the fourth best bowling spell in the history of the tournament. It was the eighth fixture of the 2004 Champions Trophy between West Indies and Bangladesh. It was the must-win game for the latter and was played at Southampton’s Rose Bowl. Bangladesh, who were coming off a loss against South Africa won the toss and elected to field first. The won toss was eventually negated by the West Indian top-order. Wavell Hinds and Chris Gayle shared a stand of 192 runs for the opening wicket, batting 40 overs. Bangladesh’s fast bowler Tapash Baisya dismissed Hinds and Gayle in two consecutive overs and left Windies at 201 for 2. The West Indians scored 77 runs in the last 10 overs and piled up 269 runs in 50 overs.

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In reply, Bangladesh had a disappointing start to their innings. Javed Omar and Mohammad Ashraful walked into bat, while Mervyn Dillon opened the bowling for the Caribbean’s. Mervyn struck in his second over when Omar was caught by Darren Sammy and had left Bangladesh at 13 for 1. The second fast bowler to strike was Ian Bradshaw. He removed the other opener and suddenly Bangladesh had two new batsmen at the crease at 15 for 1. A couple of overs later, he rattled the stumps of Nafees Iqbal and Bangladeshi captain Rajin Saleh, leaving Bangladesh at 24 for 4. The new batsman in, Khaled Mashud, soon became Dillon’s fourth victim of the day. The wicketkeeper-batsman, having scored no run, was caught by Sammy when Bangladesh had only 26 runs on the board.

The two batsmen, Aftab Ahmed and Mushfiqur Rahman put up 45 runs for the sixth wicket, Bangladesh’s highest partnership of the match. Bravo and Sammy were the next wicket-takers for West Indies who the two set batsmen respectively. Following their dismissals, Mohammad Rafique and Khaled Mahmud were in the middle as they tried to revive their side’s innings. Rafique was the eighth man to fall and Dillon’s fifth and final wicket of the match. Eventually, Bangladesh were bowled out for a mere 131 runs and West Indies sealed the game by 138 runs.

3) Makhaya Ntini 5 for 21 v Pakistan 2006

Nitini’s bowling figures of 5 for 21 has remained the third best so far among all the bowlers in the Champions Trophy. The incredible spell came during South Africa’s last group match against Pakistan during the ICC Champions Trophy 2006 in India. South Africa was more confident than ever when they flew to Mohali where the pitch conditions were almost same as South African tracks. Considering the greenish pitch, South African skipper Graeme Smith won the toss and elected to bat first. A fast track with superb bounce perfected aided the pacers; hence Pakistan’s pacers Umar Gul and Iftikhar Anjum ran through the Proteas line-up as they picked up three and two scalps respectively.
South Africa’s innings lasted for 217 minutes as they were restricted to 213 runs in 50 overs.

In reply, South African bowling attack gave Pakistan the taste of its own medicine; only in style. Shaun Pollock and Ntini began bowling from each end and the latter struck in his very first over. He removed experienced batsman, Mohammad Hafeez, cheaply for just a run. Ntini made another breakthrough in his next over. He removed the other opener, Farhat, who was caught by Pollack and that dismissal left two new batsmen at the crease for Pakistan.

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Pakistan were already shaken after the Proteas sent back the openers and Mohammad Yousuf to the dugout. Ntini continued his spell and this time he gave a massive blew when he dismissed the captain, Younis Khan in the eighth over. That left Pakistan at 21 for 4. Two deliveries later, he had his third wicket of the day to his name. After failing to score in the first two deliveries he f+aced, Shoaib Mallik was caught behind by Mark Boucher and at the same score, Pakistan had lost its fifth wicket. Ntini stuck to the perfect line and lengths and his disciplined bowling and which is why Smith gave him yet another over. Once again, Ntini was impressive as he picked his fourth wicket of the match. He removed Kamran Akmal for just a run. Ntini was adjudged the Player of the Match for his figures of 5 for 21 in six overs.

2) Shahid Afridi 5 for 11 v Kenya 2004

The Pakistan all-rounder produced this spell in the fourth edition of the ICC Champions Trophy in England. It came against Kenya in the seventh group fixture played at Birmingham. Pakistan, who were playing their first match in the tournament, won the toss and put Kenya to bat first. Kennedy Otieno and Ravi Shah walked in to open the innings for Kenya. Mohammad Sami bowled the first over and gave away just two runs. Shah faced his first delivery in the second over. He played two balls and was dismissed for a duck by Naved-ul-Hasan. One-down batsman Morris Ouma along with opener Otieno revived Kenya’s innings as they built a stand of 65 runs for the second wicket.

Shahid Afridi broke the stand when he removed Ouma in the 22nd over. The batsman scored 23 runs off 63 balls before he gave an easy catch to wicketkeeper Moin Khan.

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When almost half the overs got drained out, Kenya only had 71 runs on the board and already had lost five wickets. Thomos Odoyo was the fifth batsman to fall when he became Afridi’s second scalp. Four overs later he clattered Brijal Patel’s stumps too, leaving Kenya hopeless at 78 for 6. In Afridi’s fifth over, he notched up a wicket and Kenya suffered a run out making the over more than successful for Pakistan. In the 32nd over, Afridi dismissed final batsman of Kenya, Peter Ongondo, for just two runs off 11 balls and Kenya was bowled out for a humiliating 94 runs. Kenya lost nine wickets for 27 runs and the architect of the collapse, Afridi, finished with career-best figures of 5 for 11.

1) Farveez Maharoof  6 for 14 v West Indies 2006

The pacer’s spell came at the perfect timing during the qualifier rounds in the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy. It was the sixth and final qualifying match and was played between Sri Lanka and West Indies at Mumbai’s Brabourne Stadium. West Indies won the toss Captain Brian Lara opted to bat first. Chanderpaul and Chris Gayle came out to bat, while Chaminda Vaas opened the bowling for the Lankans. On the very fourth delivery of the day, West Indies were left 1 for 1 when Gayle was caught behind by Kumar Sangakkara. The same struck again in his next over. Vaas dismissed new batsman Ramnaresh Sarwan for a three-ball duck. Lasith Malinga joined the party when he made a breakthrough in his first over.

He removed Chanderpaul, who got out in the same fashion as Gayle. Within a few minutes into West Indies’ innings, they had already lost three batsmen.

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That was just the beginning; the worst awaited them when Farveez Maharoof would come into action. With low and straight balls, the pacer ran through the rest of the Windies’ line-up. After the early dismissals, West Indies finally had a partnership. Wavell Hinds put up 38 runs along with his skipper, Lara for the fourth wicket. When the scoreboard of the Caribbean’s appeared mostly like binary system, these were the only two batsmen who scored in double digits. In the 15th over, Maharoof got rid out Lara, who managed only 13 runs from 35 balls. In his next over, he sent Dwayne Bravo back to the pavilion, leaving West Indies struggling at 55 for 5. Marlon Samuels became his third victim. The all-rounder struggled for 10 deliveries before getting his stumps knocked out. Two deliveries later in the same 21st over, he dismissed Dwayne Smith for a two-ball duck. Maharoof was recalled in the 25th over and as expected he had struck again.


Carlton Baugh stuck around for 14 balls without scoring a run before he became Maharoof’s fifth wicket of the day. Prior to the match, Maharoof had never picked more than four wickets in one-day innings. The day got bettered when he had a sixth scalp in his account. The middle-order batsman Hinds resisted for 86 balls but finally gave up in the 27th over. Hinds was caught by Jayasuriya for an 86-ball 28 runs. Sri Lanka, who eventually were given a target of 81, won the match by nine wickets. The result was unfortunate for the West Indies as they were put in the tougher group that was comprised of India, England and Australia.

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