Score Card: Pakistan 338/4 (Fakhar Zaman 114, Azhar Ali 59, H Mohammad Hafiz 57*, Babar Azam 46, Imad Wasim 25*, B Kumar 1/44) beat India 158 All Out (H Pandya 75, Mohammad Amir 3/16, Hasan Ali 3/19, Shadab Khan 2/60) by 180 Runs.
Ranked outsider literally written off by most observers Pakistan after their first match of the Champions trophy recorded a never seen before turn around. Two tournament favorites South Africa and England they hurdled over and across for setting a date with old rivals India at Oval for the final.
Like Imran’s cornered tigers at MCG Sarfaraz Surprise squad clinically annihilated tournament’s top favorite reigning champion India. Put into bat by Kohli Pakistani batsmen smashed Indian bowling attack all around the park posting a massive score of 338/4. India to overhaul that required history to be rewritten.
But Amir, Hasan Ali and Junaid bringing memories back of Wasim, Waqar and Imran destroyed the pride of Indian batting might. India could manage only 158. Pakistan recorded a comprehensive victory of 180 runs.
Cricinfo summed it up as Quote this is one of the greatest comeback in the history of cricket. It was not in one game against one opponent, it was the best the world had, in four knock out games.”
Pakistan was not among pre-tournament favorites as the bottom ranked team of the 8 team elite group. Moreover, Pakistan cricket is going through rebuilding process. Absence of international cricket in Pakistan for the past several years did not help youngsters growing. Moreover, after the retirement of two maestros Misbah Ul Haq and Younis Khan in recent past Pakistan was seriously bothered in finding batsmen filling in their place.
But as always like free flowing fountains Pakistan keep producing and presenting to world stage gifted fast bowlers and talented leg spinners. Amir could be among all-time best if not suspended and imprisoned for fixing scandal. Junaid was handicapped by injury.
A new sensation Hasan Ali making a fearsome trio of fast bowling won the trophy for Pakistan tormenting and scaring all opposition. In the final Amir arguably produced the most devastating spell of fast bowling.
Three top batsmen of world cricket now Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan were blown away. Mighty India was reduced to 3/33. Junaid was providing admirable support to Amir from the other end. It was wonderful exhibition of fast penetrative fast bowling.
Two experienced campaigners Yuvaraj and Dhoni had no clues. Talented leggie in partnership with another sensation of the tournament Hasan Ali struck deadly blows on Indian middle order. None but Pandya (76) could stay at the wicket with any composure. India got bundled out badly bruised, battered and humiliated for 158.
Amir got 3/16, Hasan 3/19 and Shadab 2/60. We cannot recollect when in the recent past India looked so hopelessly helpless. Perhaps Pakistan winning the trophy is the icing of the cake in a tournament where all pre-tournament favorites were knocked out one by one. Earlier on the same wicket Pakistan batsmen literally toyed with Indian bowling.
After absorbing some initial anxious moments when Fakhar Zaman was caught behind by Bumrah of a new ball Pakistan openers took Indian bowlers to cleaners. Excepting Kumar all leaked runs in plenty. The opening pair of Azhar Ali and Fakhar 128 by 23rd over. It was a wonderful platform to tee off. Fakhar and Azhar matched stroke for strokes.
The pair could be only separated from a dreadful misunderstanding when Fakhar refused a single and both batsmen were stranded at one end. Talented Babar Azam joined Fakhar. The very enterprising partnership between Fakhar and Babar of 82 runs in 10 overs almost threw India out of the match.
Fakhar played several punishing strokes in reaching his first ever international century. His Innings brought back the memories of legendary Saeed Anwar. Great Indian spinners Ravi Ashwin (0/70) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/67) had nightmares on the day. All Pakistani batsmen Fakhar (114), Azhar (59), Hafiz (57*), Babar Azam (46) and Imad Wasim (25*) toyed with Indian bowling.
Otherwise difficult bowler dealing with Bumrah conceded 68 runs in 9 overs. Pakistan score of 338/4 set the highest run chase target in the history of Champions trophy. Some commentators’ thought on an easy paced batting paradise Indian batsmen would also make run feast.
Any thought of India making a fight of it was blown away by devastating opening spell of Mohammad Amir pricing out Rohit, Virat and Shikhar in no time. Terribly shaken India was further shacked by Shadab and Hasan Ali.
New look Pakistan outfit even fielded brilliantly. Fakhar Zaman was player of the match for his aggressive century. Just remember he would have even played if Sharjeel Khan was not injured and Ahmed Shehzad was in form.
New bowling sensation Hasan Ali was player of the series. Pakistan jumped into 6th position of ICC ODI ranking overtaking Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. For a country where International Cricket is absent for global politics for several years it is a shot in the arm for their cricket.
Credit must go to coaching stuff Mickey Arthur, Azhar Mahmood and especially Inzamam Ul Huq for brave selection of young talented youngsters and making a positive person like Sarfaraz the captain.
Devils must be given their due. Pakistan has won a match against India in global tournament after a long time. It is great for world cricket that a team now among the tournament favorite won the tournament.
This team when matures by 2019 world cup will definitely become a team to reckon with. In our memory we have not seen a Pakistan team playing consistently well in four consecutive matches.