History re-written in Champions Trophy; what a win for Pakistan

Pakistan 338 for 4 (Zaman 114, Azhar 59, Hafeez 57*) beat India 158 (Pandya 76, Amir 3-16, Hasan 3-19) by 180 runs

AASIF SHEIKH — What a Champions Trophy tournament we have had this year from the start to the end! Experts never thought what they saw in the Sunday final, and how it was executed from the time “go” to the end.

Pakistan losing the toss and put to bat by India — the title-holder. Was it the right decision by Virat at the time but we all knew if India win the toss, they will chase and this is exactly what they did. Trusting, they thought can restrict Pakistan to 250 – 280 and their batsmen can easily chase it down.

Let us go through the match and how the ups and downs unraveled. Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman and Azhar started the innings and they were into few overs under pressure and some chances were given but not taken by India as the fielding was not up to the mark, and run-outs were missed — I would call them good chances but no luck for them.

Fakhar was well trapped as the bowlers were not giving him any room to play his shots and he was trapped to be caught behind on 3 but it was a no-ball! This happens in international cricket when such no-balls cost the match and this is exactly what happened. Fakhar got the chance and he was on fire from their onward. He and Azhar put up the highest partnership by Pakistan against India and both scored half-centuries before Azhar was run-out due to confusion and Fakhar didn’t take the single. But this didn’t stop Fakhar. He kept taking on the bowlers and smashed them all over and for him to score a century in this only 4th ODI game is a great achievement and gettingit against India in the final is another achievement. It was also his maiden century and the first Pakistani batsmen to score a century in ICC ODI tournament final.

Related article: India, Pakistan clash for Champions Trophy: Pre-match review

Pakistan were also surprised when Hafeez came into bat and he fired from the very first ball and with the support from Baber and Imad, Pakistan managed to get a total of 338-4 which was not expected by any experts or commentators before the start of the game. Even me and you could see tension on Virat’s face.

Before the Indian innings started, everyone was focused that India can chase the total as they have the best batting line-up in the world and I am sure if the Pakistani team thought the same that 300 balls they need to get 339 which is just one run-a-ball and a dozen more.

Mohammed Amir who didn’t play the semi-final was fired up from the very first ball and in this first over he removed Rohit via LBW, and this was the starting point for Pakistan and when Virat was dropped by Azhar Ali, they felt the same as what happened with Fakhar when he was given out but it was a no-ball.

Virat got a life but on the very next ball he was caught and Pakistan was on top of the game. India kept on losing wickets and Pakistan was getting confident by every ball. Fielding was electrifying by Pakistan, making sure there is no miss-fielding and India had no answers to Pakistan’s bowling attack. Pressure was building up although Pandya tried to push the total but he was run-out and that was the end of India, I thought.

Remarks are that due to Ramadan, Pakistan won — this could be true, but we have to make efforts and then the rest happens, but the way Pak team played and if this is how they take it forward, in no time, they will climb to the top rankings of the ICC.

The match was viewed across the word, people in the Gulf and Middle East were glued to their mobile phones and Laptops in order to watch the match either on streaming or other means to make sure they don’t miss any action.

This stunning victory came to a team that was ranked before coming to the tournament at 8th, and after the defeat from India in the first match by a big margin, how they made a comeback made the whole world love them as the celebrations were done all over the world. This is the best gift of Eid for the nation I feel, knowing that there was no international cricket played at home for over 10 years and then to come out and play this way on international level is extraordinary.

Excellent captaincy by Sarfarz — the way he used the bowlers and how effective they responded back meant that for the first time, Pakistan has reached the final of ICC and won and it’s like icing of the cake they beat their neighbors India.

Virat was full of praise for Pakistan on how they played the tournament after the first defeat, and said that Pakistan outclassed India in all departments today and from the very start, they had it that they needed to win this.

It is very difficult to say that who was outstanding in the final game, as I think everyone was, from the batting department, bowing and fielding, there was no stopping from Pakistan.

The team is forming and emerging to be a very strong young talented individuals, and pressure is on seniors also to step up and play something extraordinary to be part of the squad. It is good to see the bonding of the team and how they reacted with each other. Wish all the best to the team.

The author is Riyadh-based Pakistani cricketer, coach and a freelance sports writer.

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