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The unexpected astounding victory of the Pakistan team for the first time in the Champions Trophy tournament played in England was the topic of many cricket enthusiasts. The final result of the tournament shattered the predictions of many critics.
An overwhelming number of cricket fans believed that India, Australia, South Africa and the host country England would be the likely semi-finalists. The tables turned when World Champions, Australia, and ICC top ranker South Africa failed to reach the semi-finals.
Subsequently, the popular prediction was that the host country England and India would succeed to reach the finals. After a long period, cricket fans had the opportunity to witness an encounter between India and Pakistan as Pakistan which was in the eighth place in the ICC ranking, defeated England under the Captaincy of Sarfaraz Ahmed and India defeated Bangladesh who entered the semi-finals for the first time.

India was waiting eagerly to snatch the Trophy easily again with the strong batting lineup they had under the captaincy of Virat Kholi. But Pakistan astonished the Indian dream by winning the final match with a huge margin of 180 runs displaying brilliant talents in all the departments. From the start, Pakistan showed her supremacy though she was in the eighth position in the ICC ranking, and outranked all the other cricketing giants to claim the crown with new faces in the team.

Many were marveled by opening batsman Farkar Zaman’s tall score in his debut at the Champions Trophy which went on to boost the morale of the team. The Pakistanis scored 338 runs losing only four wickets to the surprise of many spectators. On the other hand, Amir Khan’s superior bowling humiliated the Indian frontline batsmen such as Rohith Sharma, Shikhar Dhavan, Virat Kholi, M.S. Dhoni and Yuvaraj Singh. Indians were all out at a low score of 158 runs in 30.3 overs. malinga] (2)

Pakistan gained a spectacular win with an unprecedented victory thereby establishing a new ICC record in a final match.

Mohammad Amir , who was banned from cricket for five years due to match fixing in England in 2011, won the accolades of cricket commentators for his outstanding bowling performance when he returned to play this series in England. Mohammed Amir as a left-arm pace bowler gave a tough time to batsmen after returning to the game in 2016.
Pakistan got the full advantage of the game after defeating Sri Lanka in a surprising win. The fast bowling trio – Hussan Ali, Junaid Khan and Amir became a big challenge to opponent batsmen and a great asset to their team. Pakistan’s latest discovery to the team was Zaman. He is a naval officer by profession whose batting performance brings back the glorious batting prowess of former Pakistan cricketer. saeed Anwar. Twenty-seven-year-old Zaman proved his promising future at the Champions Trophy debut.
According to the latest ICC ranking, Sri Lanka slid to the eighth place. It does not forebode well for Sri Lanka in selection to qualify for the forthcoming World Cup tournament to be held in 2019.

According to the current grading, the first seven countries including England are eligible for the next World Cup. In next September 30, the rating will be updated and the first eight countries will get automatically selected and others will have to face qualifying matches.

Sri Lanka is in the eighth place in the current list and Bangladesh and Pakistan are in the seventh and sixth places respectively. Sri Lanka is slated to play against India and Zimbabwe in Sri Lanka, five matches each, before September 30. Sri Lanka has the chances of winning against India which is now in third place. It is crucial for Sri Lanka to defeat India and better its grading.

However, as of now, the Sri Lankan Cricket team following the English tour has received a short holiday. Yet, practicing and training was scheduled to begin again from June 23 onwards.

There must be much commitment in order to reverse the weakness on show during the Champions Trophy. Most probably, the Sri Lankan team will be playing with the advantage of having a fast bowlers pitch. However, because the Indian team has bowlers like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, this will  undoubtedly prove a big challenge to Sri Lankan batsmen.

In the meantime, unofficial sources claim that Coach of the Sri Lankan team, Graham Ford has taken all his belongings and left back to his homeland, South Africa. Be that as it may, a Sri Lanka Cricket officer said that Ford would from June 29 onwards join the Sri Lankan team in the training. Because the Selection Committee’s official term will come to an end on June 30, attention is being paid to the appointment of a new Selection Committee. Unofficial sources state that current Chairman of the Selection Committee, Sanath Jayasuriya will not be coming back to take the job. Unofficial reports reveal that there is a view in favour of giving Asanka Gurusinghe, currently playing a dual role as the Manager and a Selection Committee member, the said position.

It is revealed that if Gurusinghe does not receive Ford’s service, he would have to play the role of the Coach for the Zimbabwe tournament. However caution may be exercised in burdening Gurusinghe with all three roles, of the Manager, the Chairman of the Selection Committee and the Coach, as each of these roles carry great responsibilities and how successful one would be in handling all three would be and remains a question.

While all this was and is going on, Minister of Sports Dayasiri Jayasekara made a big statement about the cricketers physical fitness, stating that physical fitness would be given the main priority when selecting cricketers and that any cricketer who would not fit the bill in terms of optimal physical fitness would not be approved to the team.

It is good if this can practically be done, in action and in deed. Although prior to the England tour, Gurusinghe and Jayasuriya stated that selection would be done on the basis of giving first place to fielding and physical fitness, based on the result, a question arises whether this was done properly.

In defeat, there have been criticisms upon criticisms leveled against the Sri Lankan Cricket team. However, the Champions Trophy amply proved that a one day match is one where the team that performs the best on the day gets the advantage in the match.

While no one expected the Sri Lankan team to defeat the Indian team, many also did not expect that Sri Lanka would retreat in the face of Pakistan. No one also thought that within a short time span of veteran cricketers, Yunus Khan and Misbah Ul Haq retiring, that the young team led by Sarfars would take the Champions Trophy.

The Pakistan team minus Yunus and Misbah has within a short time period given a good answer to those stating that following the retirement of Mahela, Sanga and Dilshan, the Sri Lankan team was and is going through a transitional phase and therefore this may explain the decline.

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Angelo Mathews
Angelo Mathews

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