underdogs
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Syed Ali Zia Jaffery |

The seemingly lopsided and rain-hit Champions Trophy has drastically entered a very riveting and interesting phase. With three matches remaining in the group stages, 6 teams are vying for three spots in the semis. Thus the remaining fixtures will not only decide the fate of Australia, India, and South Africa but surprisingly three teams at the bottom of the rankings – Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan – need one match each to go their way to secure a semifinal berth.

The streets of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazaar were in ecstasy as the Bengali Tigers defeated a strong New Zealand side in what was inarguably one of the greatest run-chases in recent history.

This exciting yet tense scenario could not have been possible without three brilliant performances by Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Pakistan against three formidable sides in New Zealand, India, and South Africa, respectively.

Read more: 8 teams, one aim: The Champions Trophy

The Tigers sent the Kiwis home

The streets of Dhaka, Chittagong, and Cox’s Bazaar were in ecstasy as the Bengali Tigers defeated a strong New Zealand side in what was inarguably one of the greatest run-chases in recent history. Having bowled well, restricting the Kiwis to a below-par 265, Bangladesh was in tatters at 33 for 4. A stunning 224-run partnership between Shakib Al Hasan and Mahmudullah Raid essayed an astounding win, one that will be remembered for long.

Both scored tons and displayed grit, determination, and aggression at the same time. After seeing off early jitters both flaunted their talent and took on the strong Kiwis attack to cleaners. It ended New Zealand’s journey to the event and gave Bangladesh a real chance of advancing to the semis. All Bangladesh needs is for England to beat their arch-rivals Australia today in Birmingham. Who would have thought that Bangladesh of the teams will be on the cusp of a slot in the top 4?

Read more: Pakistan’s win over South Africa: The unpredictable Men in Green can do wonders

India could not stop the Lankan Lions

Astonishing performances by the Asian underdogs have spiced up the Champions Trophy. Analysts and fans will be on edge of their seats on the weekend and on Monday.

An injury-hit and enfeebled Srilanka defeated the mighty Indians and much to the awe of all chased a mammoth 321 runs, that too with a great deal of ease. The Indian bowling lacked the bite and could only pick up a wicket; the other two being run outs. The victory at the Oval has opened up group B as India and Srilanka can qualify only if they win their next fixtures. It was predicted that South Africa and India would breeze to the semis but that is not the case, much to the delight of fans who cribbed about the lack of excitement in the tournament.

Beleaguered Pakistan choked the Chokers

After the hammering meted out by India, Pakistan resuscitated its hope in the tournament. In front of a packed Pakistani crowd at Birmingham, the team displayed a splendid bowling performance, restricting the South Africans to a meager yet challenging total of 219. Despite some fumbles, Pakistan was ahead of the par score when rain poured down heavily. Pakistan was declared victorious under the D/L method.

The business end of the tournament

We are in for some high-quality cricket in the next three days as 6 teams will vie for 3 spots.

Astonishing performances by the Asian underdogs have spiced up the Champions Trophy. Analysts and fans will be on edge of their seats on the weekend and on Monday. Australia needs to win today otherwise Bangladesh will go through, making this match all the more crucial and watchable.

Read more: Steady India outclassed a frail side again: Where did Pakistan go wrong?

If India has to defend its title, then it must win against South Africa on Sunday, who would look to go up a notch and break the jinx of capitulating under pressure. Sunday’s clash is going to be a high voltage one, with quality and class being abundant in both the ranks.

The resurgent Srilankan side will be up against the capricious Pakistani side in a knockout match on Monday. The match, though thin on the quality side will be interesting and tense. Both sides are relatively young and have a point to prove.

We are in for some high-quality cricket in the next three days as 6 teams will vie for 3 spots.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub Editor at Global Village Space. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Analyst and Sub-Editor at Global Village Space (GVS). He frequently writes on defense and strategic affairs of South Asia.

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