Kumar Sangakkara’s unbeaten 134 off 135 balls against England on Thursday was instrumental in clinching victory for Sri Lanka, and keeping their hopes of progressing alive in the tournament. Sangakkara’s knock was studded with 12 boundaries and was undoubtedly one of the best hundreds in the Champions Trophy. On the occasion, we look at a few brilliant tons registered in the competition over the years.
Philo Wallace (103): In the final of the inaugural edition at Dhaka in 1998, the West Indian opener came up with a superb hundred, against South Africa. Wallace had been in prime form right throughout the tournament, but reserved his best for the final. West Indies batted first in the final, and Wallace got them off to blistering start, slamming 103 off 102 balls. Wallace was severe on each and every South African bowler, and hit as many as 11 fours and five sixes. For a significant period, it seemed like the match defining innings of the final had been played. But Jacques Kallis’ brilliant five-wicket spell broke the back of the West Indian middle and lower order, as a result of which South Africa won the final comfortably.
Chris Cairns (102*): Another final, another hundred. The difference – this time it was in a winning cause. India batted first in the summit clash of the 2000 edition at Nairobi. They registered a competitive 264 courtesy Sourav Ganguly’s 117 and Sachin Tendulkar’s 69. But, Cairns it was who played the innings of the day. Coming in with his team under pressure, Cairns carried New Zealand over the finish line, making 102 not out off 113 balls, with eight fours and two sixes. It was the knock that changed the course of the final.
Sanath Jayasuriya (102*): In a group game of the 2002 edition at Colombo, Sri Lanka had bowled out Pakistan for a mere 200. Then, Jayasuriya came up with his typical blazing hundred, creaming an unbeaten 102 off 120 balls. Jayasuriya blasted 10 fours in his knock and was aided nicely by Aravinda de Silva’s unbeaten half-century as Sri Lanka got home comfortably.
Marcus Trescothick (104): In the 2004 Champions Trophy final, England batted first, and their opener Trescothick came up with a masterful century at the Kennington Oval in London. Trescothick found the gaps with ease, hitting 14 boundaries in his knock before being run out. England’s remaining batsmen however played poorly as the side was all-out for 117. West Indies recovered to win by two wickets.
Chris Gayle (133*): In the second semi-final of the 2006 edition at Jaipur, West Indies were chasing a challenging 259 to win, against South Africa.However, Gayle made a mockery of the target, slashing 133 in 135 balls with the aid of 17 fours and 3 sixes. Gayle’s magnificence saw West Indies win by six wickets.
Shane Watson (136*): The burly Aussie turned the first semi-final of the 2009 edition at Centurion into a no-contest. Australia were chasing 258 to oust England, and Watson singlehandedly bludgeoned 136 of those in 132 balls, with 10 fours and seven sixes to see them through to the final.
--By A Cricket Analyst