The ongoing ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in the UK has thrown up quite a few surprising results with the tournament dominated by Asian teams. None would have expected the defending World Cup champions Australia to have crashed out so early, same was the case with the South Africans.
Team Australia was certainly distracted with their pay dispute with Cricket Australia. Players like David Warner had talked about it in press conferences which clearly showed that the players weren’t fully focused on the tournament at hand.
The Steven Smith-led Australia was also very unlucky in the tournament that has been played around in uncertain weather conditions. Two out of the three league games for Australia in Group A were washed out with no results. Many people would have surely placed their cricket bet on Australia to win the tournament and must have been shocked to see the team not even making the semi-finals which is quite a rarity for a team that has been dominating world cricket for the last two decades or so.
Australia’s campaign in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 began against their Trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand. The Steven Smith team was chasing a stiff target of 292 which was made tougher at 235 from 33 overs after D/L calculations following a rain interruption. The Aussies were under clear pressure, reduced at 53 for 3 in 9 overs before rain had the last laugh robbing New Zealand off a potential upset.
In their second match of the 8-nation tournament, Australia were indeed in a strong position to steer themselves to an easy victory having bundled out minnows Bangladesh for just 182. The Aussies eased to 83 for 1 in 16 overs with David Warner batting on 44 and looking to get them to the target in a matter of few more overs. However, it rained heavily at London to ensure that the match ended abruptly without a result.
Lucky Bangladesh got away from an otherwise crushing defeat against the Aussies and ironically had reached their first ever semi-final of any big tournament. It is another matter that they went down without a fight in their ICC Champions Trophy 2017 Semi Final match against India.
Australia with just two points from two matches had no choice but to beat England in their last league match to entertain thoughts of a semi final birth. However, their batting did not fire on all cylinders in the virtual quarter-final at Birmingham where they ended up with a slightly below par total of 277 following a lower order collapse.
The match against England too was affected by rain and by the time the Umpires decided to stop the game, the homeside was 240 for 4 in the 41st over with Skipper Eoin Morgan and centurion Ben Stokes sealing the run chase. England was declared winners as per the D/L method and Australia as a result headed home after the knock out.
The two sides will meet again though in the blockbuster Ashes 2017/18 series down under to be played between late November and January 2018.