Pakistan decimated arch-rivals India in the final of the Champions Trophy 2017 at The Oval to claim their first major ICC ODI tournament title in 25 years and register one of the greatest comebacks in the history of cricket.
They lived up to their unpredictable tag and brought their ‘A’ game — which Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur had talked about before the clash — in London to skittle India for 158 in just over 30 overs, securing a victory which will be forever etched in the memory of millions — especially those who remained glued to their TV sets on both sides of the India-Pakistan line-of-control today.
It didn’t look like the same team that lost to India by 124 runs in their group game in Birmingham a fortnight ago, and completed a remarkable turnaround that not even their most devoted supported had foreseen.
Earlier, Pakistan had set up 338 after being sent in by India skipper Virat Kohli, mainly due to a maiden century from opener Fakhar Zaman, who hit a fighting 114 from 106 balls in just his fourth ODI innings.
Fakhar was given a life that cost India dearly; Jasprit Bumrah had Fakhar caught behind for just 3, but replays suggested he had overstepped. It allowed Pakistan to put up a 128-run stand without losing a wicket — their highest opening union against India — before Azhar Ali (59) was deemed run out in the 23rd over.
From then on, Pakistan never looked back. The middle order continued to ride the seemingly unstoppable wave of momentum built by openers, with Babar Azam (46 off 52), Mohammad Hafeez (57 off 37) and Imad Wasim (25 off 21) all helping Pakistan to post a grand total.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the pick of the bowlers for India with figures of 1-44 in his 10 overs.
In reply, Mohammad Amir reigned supreme: Rohit Sharma was trapped in front, Virat Kohli offered a thick outside edge to Shadab at point after being given another life, and Shikhar Dhawan was undone by the extra bounce in the surface. In no time, India found themselves at 33-3 in 8.1 overs, with all three wickets claimed by the left-armer. Yuvraj Singh was found to be plumb in front upon excellent review by Shadab Khan and MS Dhoni was later accounted by Hasan Ali.
Hardik Pandya made a gritty 76 off 43 balls, that included six sixes off spin, but was involved in an ugly mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja, who refused to sacrifice his wicket. Hasan Ali, then, ripped through the tail, bagging 3 wickets for 19 runs (second only to Amir’s 3/16).
India — who were playing their fourth major final in six years — went down without putting up a fight, and their chase fell away with incredible meekness to spark jubilations from London to Karachi.
Pakistan 338 for 4 (Fakhar Zaman 114, Azhar Ali 59, Mohammad Hafeez 57*) beat India 158 (Hardick Pandya 76, Mohammad Amir 3-16, Hasan Ali 3-19) by 180 runs
“I want to congratulate Pakistan, they had an amazing tournament, the way they turned things around, speak volumes for the talent they have. They proved it again, they can upset anyone on their day, disappointing for us but I have a smile on my face because we played well to reach the final. Credit to them they outplayed us today in all departments. This is what happens in sport. We can’t take anyone lightly but they were more intense and passionate on the day.” Virat Kohli, captain India, said.
“After the India match I said to my boys, the tournament is not finished yet. We played very well and now we have won the final. Fakhar is a great impact player, in his first ICC event, he played like a champion, he can be a great player for Pakistan. All credit goes to my bowlers, Amir, Hasan Ali, Shadab, Junaid, Hafeez, they bowled really well. It’s a young team, credit goes to my boys, this tournament can be a great booster for us. We played like we had nothing to lose, now we are champions. It’s a very proud moment for me and my country, and thanks to the nation for supporting us.” Sarfraz Ahmed, captain Pakistan, said