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ICC Champions Trophy: Throwback to when South Africa shed their tag of Chokers

South African players celebrate

Instituted as a platform for the emerging cricket associates, the ICC Champions Trophy was introduced in 1998 as the “ICC Knockout Trophy” sponsored by Wills Company. As an opportunity to provide more exposure to the emerging nations in the sport of cricket, Bangladesh were announced as the hosts for this edition.

 

Inaugural Champions Trophy

Despite having won the 1997 ICC Qualifiers Trophy and making the cut for the 1999 ICC Cricket World Cup, Bangladesh chose to stay away from this edition. This left the total number of nations participating in this tournament to be 9, of which two nations were to play a preliminary knockout to determine the winner who’d play in the knockout with the other seven teams.

Also Read: Top batsmen to look out for in the ICC Champions Trophy

Following were the 9 teams who participated in the inaugural ICC Champions Trophy:-

  1. Australia [Led by Steve Waugh]
  2. England [Led by Adam Hollioake]
  3. South Africa [Led by Shaun Pollock]
  4. New Zealand [Led by Stephen Fleming]
  5. India [Led by Mohammad Azharuddin]
  6. Pakistan [Led by Aamir Sohail]
  7. Sri Lanka [Led by Arjuna Ranatunga]
  8. West Indies [Led by Brian Lara]
  9. Zimbabwe [Led by Alistair Campbell]

Of the above, Zimbabwe and New Zealand, being the lower ranked teams, had a preliminary knockout amongst themselves, where the Kiwis prevailed. The knockouts followed the very following day, i.e.  from 25th to 28th October 1998, where South Africa, Sri Lanka, West Indies and India progressed further into the semifinals. India, who cut a sorry figure in the first and only edition of the Kuala Lumpur Commonwealth Games a couple of weeks ago, had improved on a vast scale this time.

 

However, their dream run ended in the semifinals when, despite posting a considerable target of 243, they lost to the West Indies by 6 wickets. On the other hand, South Africa, after a rain spoilt semifinal match, defeated Sri Lanka as per the Duckworth-Lewis method by 92 runs, to progress into the final.

South Africa, who were anointed with the unwanted tag of ‘Chokers’, did not display any sign of the same. Buoyed by a gold medal from the Commonwealth Games, the team led by Hansie Cronje defeated West Indies by 4 wickets, with Hansie Cronje playing a captain’s knock of 61 runs. Assisted by a brilliant spell from the then emerging all- rounder Jacques Kallis, South Africa managed to win their first and only ICC event.

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