5 Big failures of the Champions Trophy 2017

Champions Trophy 2017 will be remembered for great competitive cricket and lesser fancied sides overhauling big sides but they were some notable failures as well.

India's Ravichandran Ashwin
India’s Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The eighth edition of the Champions Trophy saw a string of upsets which sent major teams who were hailed as favourites back home early. Pakistan barely qualified for the mega event and ended up being the champions defeating arch-rivals India by a hefty margin of 180 runs in the finals held at The Oval on Sunday.

It was a tournament which followed a familiar theme of wickets falling in a heap during the middle overs. Pakistan did that in each of their last four games. They had great quality in their bowling which dismantled the best batting line-ups in world cricket. India, who ended up as the runners-up, had a lot of power in their batting but faltered in just a solitary game when it mattered the most.

England were the hot favourites to clinch the title in front of their home crowd. But their campaign was cut short by a resurgent Pakistan side that produced the most clinical game in the semifinals to overhaul the English total with 8 wickets in hand. They eventually won a maiden Champions Trophy title and became the owner of all ICC trophies along with the Test mace. A big tournament ostensibly results in a few disappointments. We bring you to the 5 big failures of the 18-day tournament:

1. South Africa’s ICC tournament blue continues:

Kagiso Rabada of South Africa
South Africa. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

South Africa were hailed as one of the strong contenders to go far into the tournament. They were at least expected to qualify for the semi-finals of the tournament due to the form they were in. A loss against Pakistan got them in a spot of bother as it opened up the group. India and South Africa were expected to go through to the semifinals but due to their defeat against Sarfaraz’s men, only one of India and South Africa would go through.

In a virtual quarterfinal between both sides, the Proteas yet again showed their rickety nature in knockout games. From 140 for 2, they crumbled under pressure to be bowled out for 191. India made light weight of the low target and won with 8 wickets in hand. South Africa, again, will be very disappointed with their pressure soaking ability. They had a team to go all the way but were knocked out in the first round itself.

2. New Zealand couldn’t replicate the 2015 World Cup performance

Kane Williamson
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson leads his team off the field. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

The Kiwis were the runners up of the 2015 World Cup and were expected to go deep into this competition. That New Zealand would not even win a single game in the tournament, was never foreseen. They were unlucky to get just a single point against Australia, where they had the World Champions on the mat at 53 for 3 chasing an improbable 235 off 33 overs. Williamson’s men were then mauled by 87 runs by the hosts. Playing against Bangladesh, they needed a win to stay alive in the tournament.

Bangladesh were lighter on paper compared to New Zealand but such was the pattern of the tournament that lesser fancied sides ended up capitulating big teams. Bangladesh chasing 266, after being 33 for 4, went on to score 235 more runs losing just one wicket thanks to a majestic 224-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Riad. New Zealand, after being winless in the tournament, had to fly back home. Their potential largely remained unfulfilled in this eight-nation tournament.

3. Failures of India’s much relied spin twins

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin of India. (Photo by Kieran Galvin/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Though England is considered a country where the ball curls in the air and provides more assistance to seam bowlers, the collective failures of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin – world No. 1 and No. 2 Test bowlers respectively – hurt India dearly, especially against Pakistan in the finals. While Jadeja played in all five games, Ashwin was benched in the first two ergo; could appear in just three games.

Both collectively had just 5 wickets against their name and conceded a massive 416 runs in the process averaging 83.2 runs per wicket. Their economy rates weren’t great either – 5.86 collectively. Both leaked runs at crucial junctures and produced a forgettable outing in the finals as Ashwin returned with 0/70 in ten overs while Jadeja gave away 67 runs in his 8 overs. In hindsight, India would have been better off playing Umesh Yadav instead of Ashwin in the finals. Both bowled too flat and weren’t prepared to give the ball some air to purchase some wickets. If either of them had bowled better on Sunday, the result of the finals would have been different.

4. Shoaib Malik fails to emulate West Indies success

Shoaib Malik Pakistan
Shoaib Malik of Pakistan. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Shoaib Malik was called back into the ODI side to bring in stability and experience in the side but didn’t make enough runs in the tournament. In 4 innings, Malik could get just 54 runs with 18* being his highest. Pakistan clearly wanted more from their most experienced active cricketer. The all-rounder was coming off from a great series against West Indies where he scored a century and a half-century in 3 games to lead his side to a rare series win in the West Indies.

Despite his failure, Pakistan were good enough to lift the title but personally the 35-year old will be disappointed to step up during crunch moments. Pakistan were lucky that Malik’s dry spell with the bat coincided with Hafeez’s brilliant run with the bat.

5. Mustafizur runs out of the ‘Fizz’

Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh
Mustafizur Rahman of Bangladesh. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Mustafizur Rahman was banked upon by Bangladesh to deliver in this tournament, especially due to the pitches being conducive to seam bowling. But the left-arm bowler could not come to terms with the expectations set on him. He failed miserably and could manage to get just one wicket in 4 games. His economy rate was appalling as he gave runs at 6.31 an over.

Bangladesh persisted with him but couldn’t fetch the results they were after from the talented 21-year old. ‘The Fizz’ was particularly poor on the day of the semifinals where he leaked 53 runs in 6 overs and was terribly lax with the new ball. A couple of wickets from the strike bowler of Bangladesh could have put pressure on India in a chase of 265. All in all, Mustafizur failed to perform at the big stage which hurt his side badly.