THE ASIAN SUPREMACY

With three Asian teams storming into the semifinals of the Champions Trophy, it is no surprise that the impact players were mostly from the sub-continent side.

You may put it down to similar playing conditions or great adaptability, or both, as the three Asian teams made their way to the semifinals of a global tournament in faraway UK. India, Pakistan and Bangladesh have been helped by a few individuals who stood out with their consistent performances in the Champions Trophy. South Africa, New Zealand, and favourite England —the only non-Asian team to make the semis — all fell by the wayside against their Asian counterparts. Australia, the World Cup winner, was undone by two rain-hit games and the defeat to England. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the players who made an impact on the tournament were mostly from the sub-continent teams. Photo: Reuters
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Combining with Rohit Sharma, Dhawan, the highest run-getter in the Champions Trophy, gave India solid starts. In three of the four matches ahead of the final, the Indian openers had big partnerships. Dhawan scored a half-century and a century in four matches ahead of the final. His knock of 125 — the third-highest individual score of his career — helped India to another 300-plus total, but in an anomalous turn of events, it was eventually chased down by a rampant Sri Lanka. Dhawan scored 317 runs in the tournament (before the final) at an impressive strike rate of 102.25. The left-hander seems to like the big stage. He topped the run charts in the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013, and was India’s highest run-getter in the 2015 World Cup as well. Photo: Getty Images
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The opener hit a purple patch in the Champions Trophy with scores of 91 (against Pakistan), 78 (against Sri Lanka), 12 (against South Africa) and an unbeaten 123 against Bangladesh in the semifinal. Yet, he hasn’t outscored his opening partner; he is 13 runs behind Dhawan’s tally. His failure to get going against South Africa was due to his own urgency to assume belligerence. He is skilled and is attractive to watch when on song. His efficiency with the bat is backed well by statistics, especially in One-Day Internationals. Photo: Getty Images
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The seamer played a big role in setting up all of Pakistan’s victories in the tournament so far. He took three wickets each in those matches (3-24 vs. South Africa, 3-43 vs. Sri Lanka, 3-35 vs. England, semifinal)at an impressive economy rate of below five runs per over to script his team’s remarkable turnaround in the tournament. Bowling good lengths and tight lines, and utilising the slight movement off the wicket via reverse swing, he fulfils the dual role of stifling batsmen and inducing them into errors. Hasan goes about his business with a constant frown on his face, and once he has caused a batsman’s downfall, he does a combination of Brett Lee and Shahid Afridi in celebration, his fierce expression unchanged. Perhaps it underlines his own team’s determination in emerging well from an annihilation it suffered at the hands of India in the first match. Hasan’s own figures (1-70) were not flattering, but he hasn’t looked back since, carrying his team with him.
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The left-arm fast bowler was disciplined with his spells in the tournament. He is among the highest wicket-takers despite having missed the first match against India, when Wahab Riaz was chosen ahead of him. Wahab, though, misfired. Like his peer Hasan, Junaid has also been unrelenting and frugal in his spells. He took 2 for 53 in his first match, against South Africa, before improving those figures against Sri Lanka with a 3 for 40 that broke the opposition’s top and middle order. Against England, he took 2 for 42 to register an overall economy rate of 4.85 ahead of the final. Unlike Hasan, Junaid serves as a new-ball bowler, helping Pakistan keep up the pressure on the batsmen from the start. Junaid is also an expert with the old ball and in the death overs. Photo: AFP
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The opener was Bangladesh’s most prolific batsman in the tournament. However, his bulky contributions at the top of the order, made with eye-catching strokes, didn’t translate into victories for his team. Tamim is a confident stroke-maker; he thrives on throwing down the gauntlet to the bowler, occasionally stepping down the track and lofting for boundaries. He scored 293 runs with a century and two half-centuries at a strike-rate of 86.17. Tamim’s strike-rate is remarkable, as he is often burdened with saving his wicket with his team-mates falling around him. His 128 against England in the opening game helped Bangladesh post a 300-plus total, but it lost. His half-centuries against the potent bowling attacks of Australia and India were impressive, too, but his team’s only victory came when he got out for a duck against New Zealand. Photo: Reuters
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