The International Cricket Council Champions Trophy tournament is underway in England right now. This consists of 50 over one-day games and features the top eight teams in the world. The teams are split into two groups of four that play round robin games, with the top two in each group going to the semi-final round. Although Bangladesh edged out the once mighty West Indies to qualify for the eighth and last spot in the tournament, it seemed like it and Sri Lanka would not make it to out of the group stage, with Pakistan possibly joining them for an early trip home. Australia, India, and South Africa seemed the likely contenders for the trophy, with England and New Zealand close behind.
After an exciting opening game in which Bangladesh pushed England to the limit before losing, the tournament went into a dreary phase in which the English weather caused two games to be abandoned as no-decisions and two games shortened because of rain. It seemed like the early expectations would pan out. But then the tournament suddenly came alive with Pakistan upsetting South Africa and Sri Lanka and Bangladesh getting shock wins over India and New Zealand respectively.
Now the tournament is wide open with the remaining three group games all being crucial and only New Zealand eliminated so far. New Zealand can consider themselves unlucky. They seemed to be on the way to beating Australia before rain intervened and the game had to be abandoned. Saturday’s game between Australia and England is now key for Australia to win to remain in the tournament, because if England beats Australia, then Bangladesh will join England in the semi-final round, and Australia will be out. Although I normally would have no team to root for between England and Australia, I am hoping this time England wins so that the deep underdog Bangladesh makes it to the next round. It would give a real boost to that country’s cricket morale.
In the other group of four, the games between India and South Africa on Sunday and between Sri Lanka and Pakistan on Monday become effectively quarter-final games with the winners going to the semi-final round.
One hopes that the rains do not spoil what could be some very exciting games in the next few days.