2002 review: Two finals and both affected by rain!

The trophy in 2002 had to be shared on a rainy night. Ironically, had the tournament rules allowed the final to be carried over to the second day, instead of it being replayed, the contest would have been completed.

Sanath Jayasuriya and Sourav Ganguly share the trophy.   -  The Hindu Photo Library

The competition in Sri Lanka had several twists and turns. At the end of it all, the trophy had to be shared on a rainy night. Ironically, had the tournament rules allowed the final to be carried over to the second day, instead of it being replayed, the contest would have been completed.

The ICC Champions Trophy of 2002 saw India and Sri Lanka duelling it out in the summit clash.

In the final on September 29 at the Premadasa Stadium, Sri Lanka made 244 and India replied with 14 without loss before the rain came.

Then the match, again a day/night affair, was replayed the next day. This time, the host, batting first once more, notched up 222. And India had just commenced its innings when the downpour started again.

If only the match had continued from the earlier day, we would have had a singular winner. In the end, Sourav Ganguly and Sanath Jayasuriya held the trophy together.

It was the maiden Champions Trophy triumph for both sides. The two sides found men for the occasion, displayed resilience during tough times and the ability to close out games.

The star-studded event in the Emerald Isle was the third edition of the Champions Trophy. This time around, the competition had a league phase unlike the earlier tournaments in Bangladesh and Kenya which were played on a knock-out basis.

The championship was to have been held in India but was switched to Sri Lanka by the ICC when some tax exemptions were not granted for the conduct of the tournament.

In all, 12 teams were divided into four groups of three teams each. The side that topped the pool qualified for the semifnals. 

India was bunched with England and Zimbabwe. And Ganguly’s men were in trouble early on with medium-pacer Douglas Hondo making inroads.

Mohammed Kaif, with an innings of maturity and judicious stroke-making in a crisis situation, revived the Indian hopes with a 112-ball 111. Hondo scalped four but India recovered to 288 for six.

Then, the spirited Zimbabweans gave the fancied Indians a scare under the lights. Andy Flower kept his side in the game with a brilliant 164-ball 145.

In a match going down to the wire, the Indians held their nerve to emerge victorious by 14 runs. The canny left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan, harnessing the angles capably and varying his pace, picked up four wickets.

England outplayed Zimbabwe which meant the India-England game at the Premadasa Stadium was virtually a quarterfinal with the winner making the last four stage.

Ian Blackwell’s powerful 68-ball 82 took England to a combative 269 for seven on a sluggish pitch. The Indian bowling, tight for most part, leaked runs towards the end.

Then, on a slow pitch, the dazzling Virender Sehwag sent the English fielders on a leather hunt. Employing his bat-speed and picking the length in a jiffy, Sehwag raced to a 104-delivery 126. And India overcame the target by seven wickets, setting up a semifinal clash with South Africa.

South Africa had a potent pace attack but Sehwag, his head steady despite lack of footwork, rollicked to an entertaining 59.

Sehwag’s innings provided thrust and momentum to the Indian innings. Then, Rahul Dravid (49) and Yuvraj Singh (62) lent substance to the innings. Shaun Pollock’s precise cutters and changes of pace fetched him three wickets but India’s 261 for nine appeared a competitive total. 

But then, the mercurial Gibbs seemed to have other ideas as he waded into the Indian bowling. And South Africa, with Gibbs and the solid Jacques Kallis in command, was coasting to the target with the Indian attack becoming increasingly demoralised.

Then, Gibbs, undone by humidity and cramps, retired with his score on 116 — South Africa was 191 for one in the 38th over at that point — and the game turned around.

South Africa got bogged down, lost wickets and India clawed its way back into the game.

Ganguly’s decision to throw the ball to Sehwag proved a master-stroke. It was perhaps the last roll of the dice by a skipper with an instinctive feel for the game and its various hues.

The ploy worked. Sehwag sent down five overs at the death, giving away 25 runs and taking out three batsmen. His steady off-spin on a surface lacking pace pegged back the South African batsmen, who erred by going for the big hits and coming unstuck instead of working the ball around. 

Eventually, South Africa finished 10 runs short. The man who orchestrated the incredible turnaround, Sehwag, was adjudged Man of the Match.

In the other semifinal, Australia succumbed to Sri Lankan spin, getting bowled out for 162 in 48.4 overs. That Shane Warne top-scored with 36 was a reflection of the Australian batting. Muttiah Muralitharan, spinning the ball but controlling the extent of turn, finished with three for 26.

Sri Lanka made light of the target, romping home by seven wickets; Marvan Atapattu was the highest scorer with 51.

Then came the final and the replayed one. On both occasions, Sri Lanka batted first. In the first match, Sanath Jayasuriya and Mahela Jayawardene notched up half-centuries and Harbhajan Singh took three for 27 runs in 10 engrossing overs.

Sri Lanka made 222 the next day with Mahela Jayawardene coming up with an innings of 77, a knock of touch and class. Again the game had to be abandoned after the skies opened up. In the end, it was a memorable tournament for India. Led by an inspirational skipper in Ganguly, the side had depth and options. And with an aggressive skipper in charge, the side was not short of belief.

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