8th edition of Champions Trophy has just started in England. 3rd time its happening in England. Started in 1998, Champions Trophy was conceived as a knock out even happening once every 2 years. Bangladesh hosted the first edition and quickly it captured the mind space of cricket lovers. But the first major hurdle occurred in 2002. India was supposed to host the 3rd edition of the tournament in 2002 after Kenya hosted the 2nd. But just months before the tournament BCCI has given up saying the tournament is too expensive to host as Govt hasn’t given tax exemption. The tax rates on entertainment were very high during those days and substantial amount of BCCI revenue would go to Govt as tax. Hosting a tournament with 12 nations with just few matches would not bring revenue as most of the Non-Indian matches hardly bring viewership or ad revenue. And since its not a World Cup the excitement factor will also be very less. The tournament however was shifted to Sri Lanka BCCI hosted Champions Trophy only in 2006 when the then Govt. decided to make it tax free.
India and Champions Trophy
But the 2006 ICC Champions Trophy in India has its own share of controversies. It was a 10 nation tournament held in 4 cities of Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Mohali in October-November. Just few months before in July there were blasts in Mumbai that killed many people. Some South African players were scared to travel to India as the match fixing probe was going on against them. People like Herschelle Gibbs feared arrest if they come to India. Anyways, the tournament started and the crowds were very less and there was no interest at all. India lost 2 out of 3 matches it played and couldn’t make it to semis. Final was between Australia and West Indies which Australia won through D/L method. Even in Trophy presentation there were controversies. Final was in Mumbai and then then Agriculture minister and big leader from Maharashtra Sharad Pawar was on the stage to present the trophy. Ricky Ponting, who was the captain then walked upto the stage, said “Hola buddy” to Pawar and patted his shoulder and asked him to give the trophy fast. Once the trophy in hand, another team member Damien Martyn pushed Pawar from the stage and Australians started celebrating. Everyone including Sachin Tendulkar reacted very harshly at the unprofessional behavior of Aussies.
Controversies in Team India
After this, Champions Trophy was made once in 4 years instead of 2, and now the 8th edition is happening in England. It is also not without any controversies. The event is dominated by Kumble vs Kohli spat. Dressing room politics and differences of opinions was never new to India. The infamous Gavaskar vs Kapil spat was the story of 80’s and from then on there was always politics in Indian dressing room. In-fact Politics and Cricket in India go hand in hand. Its the politicians who head every state Cricket board in India and selection of players in every cricket board involves politics. So players who come up from this environment will play politics at any level. Everyone, be in Sachin or Saurav or Dhoni or Kohli everyone plays their round of politics. But the coach vs Captain saga was started with Greg Chappel and Saurav Ganguly. That really brought out many ugly things and had gone really sour. After that BCCI took extra care in appointing coaches. Kumble was appointed the coach after Ravi Shastri was eased out as interim coach. Shastri sulked but took it in his stride. Kohli and Shastri have a great equation and somewhere Shastri not being the coach affected Kohli indirectly. In putting Kumble as coach Dhoni extracted his piece of revenge on Shastri who conspired against Dhoni.
The Double K’s Saga
So what went wrong between Kohli and Kumble? Its like Discipline vs Free will battle. Kumble belongs to that school of thought where for a good performance you need to be disciplined. That includes cutting down on parties and staring practice sessions early morning. Kohli belongs to the school of thought that believes in Play hard and Party hard. He believes in giving it all on the ground and the same give it all on the dance floor. That would mean practice sessions will start late and that wouldn’t be taken very seriously. Maximum role of coach comes in practice sessions and with Kohli not taking them seriously has hurt the ego of Kumble. One thing led to another and finally it snowballed into a big ego clash between the two. Both are very strong willed individuals who stuck to their stand. Kumble’s contract ends with Champions Trophy and Kohli insists on not giving an extension to Kumble. Captain has no role to play in selecting the coach but in a politically surcharged environment everyone interferes in others jobs. Sehwag applied for the job and Shastri is keen on it. Now if Sehwag becomes the coach then he will be tougher than Kumble. That is something Kohli has to take note of. The only solution I can see is everyone keeping their egos and interference under check. Mind your business and give your best. That’s all Indian team needs right now.
The Big Match – India Vs Pakistan
On the Indo-Pak match, thankfully dressing room issues didn’t come onto the field. India started off brilliantly with a 100 run partnership and the match interrupted by rain multiple times went on to make 300 plus. Captain Kohli played a brilliant innings scoring a 80 and he was aptly supported by Yuvi. As Shastri put it in post match analysis, right from 2003 Natwest trophy in tournament after tournament in England, Yuvi has been delivering consistently. If he continues then India might go all the way and could even win for the 2nd time. India went on to make 319 in their 48 overs and Pakistan were set 324 run target. That target also was revised to 289 in 41 overs when rain interrupted the match again. Pakistan started off decently but lost the way once Shoaib Malik got out and were bowled out for 164. India win comprehensively by 124 runs. That takes India’s score in ICC tournaments against Pakistan to 13-2. A win against Pakistan is always something to relish but this one came very easily. It was always looking one sided. India will face Sri Lanka next on Thursday and then South Africa on next Sunday. One out of these two will take India into semi finals. Let’s wish the team all the best and relish the big win against Pakistan!
Happy Week Everyone!!