The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is the second most important tournament after the World Cup, but we are seven games into the tournament without much of an excitement and momentum. Reason? Too many rain-interrupted games and washouts. Tournaments like Champions Trophy and World Cup happen after four years and carry its own glamour and prestige. The ongoing eighth edition of the ongoing ICC Champions Trophy is being played between eight top teams of the world and the level of competition is always high.
Eight teams are divided into two groups and one just can’t afford to step a foot wrong in such high-voltage clashes. But the incessant rains, which has affected four big games out of seven till now and is hampering the glamour of the tournament. The weather has started to play a crucial role in the game. It’s playing on team’s mind, especially on the captains. With the Ducksworth-Lewis method coming into play, most of the toss-winning captains are looking forward to chase irrespective of their strength. Toss is becoming more crucial in every game.
Any game between arch-rivals India and Pakistan attracts eyeballs from across the globe. And the encounter between the two cricket fanatic countries in this year’s schedule was no different, it was a high-voltage one and had enormous attention pinned to it. But the crucial encounter between these two teams was also affected by rain. Though it didn’t make a lot of difference as only a few overs were curtailed but a lot of intervals due to reappearing rains didn’t let the momentum going and delayed the game.
Teams like Australia and New Zealand have been affected the most by rains. As of now, both these teams are uncertain of making it to the semi-finals and their fortunes are tied with a thin thread. They did most of the things right and now find themselves in hot water with one game to be played in the league stages. From Group A only, England have successfully made it to the semi-final after registering two emphatic victories in two games.
Let’s introspect one team at a time. New Zealand punched above their weight in their first game against Australia. They had big runs on the board in a rain-curtailed encounter and came out hard with the ball. Australia lost three crucial wickets in nine overs and were precariously placed on 53 when it started pouring in Birmingham. Though Steve Smith was still at the crease but looking at the way New Zealand bowlers have fared in the innings, one wouldn’t be wrong in anticipating New Zealand’s win. Rain continued to pour and the match was called off, both the teams were awarded a point each, leaving New Zealand disappointed. Also, a minimum of 20 overs has to be played in the second innings for the Ducksworth-Lewis method to come into play.
New Zealand had their next game scheduled against one of the strongest sides in the tournament – England. Once again, their bowlers did a decent job in restricting the star-studded English line-up to 311 but the ineffectiveness of their middle and lower middle-order cost them heavily as they lost the game. Now, New Zealand have played two games, one ended in no result and lost the other, still, their chances of getting through are bleak and highly depends on Australia’s next game, which is against England. How? Will discuss after focusing on Australia’s journey.
Australia were saved by the rain against New Zealand but were on the receiving end against Bangladesh. Once again, rain interrupted the play and this time Australia were on the brink of a much-needed victory but were denied one. Now, with two points in their basket, Australia in a way have a do-or-die game against England and a victory here will chisel their path into the semi-final leaving New Zealand out. But, if New Zealand win against Bangladesh and Australia lose the battle against England then the Black Caps will advance to the semi-finals alongside England. Also, if New Zealand lose against Bangladesh and Australia also witness an identical result then the Net Run-Rate will come into play between Bangladesh and Australia.
All three teams are precariously placed in the points table and their next respective clashes are no less than a knock-out with Australia being in a slightly better position. If they win, they will go ahead whereas New Zealand need a win and an Australian defeat in order to make the cut.
Now, talking about the important encounter between Pakistan and South Africa from Wednesday, which was again interrupted due to rain. Pakistan bowlers did a fantastic job in keeping the South Africa side to 219 but a bumpy ride with the bat saw them being three down on 119 in 27 overs when Edgbaston started witnessing some showers. Eventually, there was no further game possible and Pakistan were crowned winners by 19 runs as per the D/L method.
— Gaurav Kalra (@gauravkalra75) June 7, 2017
Cricket gets more intense when the conditions are bowler-friendly and Edgbaston had something for the bowlers. It would have been amazing, had this encounter not been hindered by rain as the momentum kept swinging from one end to another.
With the Champions Trophy being almost half-way through, fans and followers along with the cricketers would hope for lesser rain-interrupted games. Even the final of 2013 edition was curtailed to 20 overs as rain halted the proceedings. As of now, everyone can only hope the Rain Gods to show mercy and no more washed out games.