Kolkata: They have done it finally. After waiting for almost eight years, the men in green have finally got their hands on an ICC trophy and the way they’ve done is one to be remembered for the ages to come.
Coming into the tournament as the lowest ranked side amongst all the other participants, their dramatic turnaround has left many stunned including the defending champions India, who were handed a heavy 180-run thrashing at The Oval on a memorable Sunday in London.
India went into the match with the tag of the ‘favourites’ and Pakistan too, did the same with the experience of defeating big teams like South Africa and England.
To be brutally honest, the defending champions were a bit complacent on the day when things mattered the most. Yes, Pakistan had their share of luck when in-form opener Fakhar Zaman was dismissed of a no-ball and Mohammad Hafeez was almost out as although the ball hit the stumps, the bails remained intact at the end of the first innings.
But till then, the damage had already been done. Winning the toss and opting to bowl first didn’t turn out to be good decision from the Indian skipper Virat Kohli as the Pakistani openers- Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman raced to 128 runs in 23 overs.
Both these players attacked and had their moments of luck but, at the end of the day, it’s the runs against your name that matter the most. Zaman (114) who has already proved to be one of the finds of the tournament continued with his superb form as he notched up his maiden ton in international cricket.
Truly, there wasn’t any better and bigger a stage to achieve this, than in the final of a marquee ICC event and that too, against arch-rivals India. Azhar Ali (59) too played a good innings before being run out. Babar Azam (46) and Shoaib Malik (12) chipped in with crucial knocks but Mohammad Hafeez (57*) and Imad Wasim (25*) ensured that they score well over the 300 run mark as Sarfaraz’s men ended on a huge 338/4.
It always going to be a challenge chasing 339 and that too against a top quality bowling attack and India unfortunately failed to cope up with that challenge.
Rohit Sharma’s struggle against Mohammad Amir in international cricket continued as he was dismissed in the very first over without a run on the board. What further led to their downfall was the crucial wicket of skipper Kohli, who couldn’t make much after being dropped at slip of the bowling of Amir and perished in an attempt to flick a ball to the leg side as he caught at point of the same bowler.
Amir, truly had wreaked havoc already as he had already sent back two of India’s best batsmen. But the leading run-scorer of the tournament- Shikhar Dhawan along with Yuvraj Singh tried to soak in the pressure and stage a comeback but the Pakistani bowlers were too hot to handle.
Amir’s next victim was Dhawan as he edged one to keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed. Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, both of whom are known as big match players too perished soon leaving India reeling at 54/5. Kedar Jadhav then played some good shots but he too was dismissed in an attempt to clear the field.
However, what happened next certainly did ignite hopes a comeback as Hardik Pandya whacked the bowlers all around the park to score a quick fire 76 from just 43 balls and he really looked to take the game away in India’s favour.
But a stupid mix-up between him and Ravindra Jadeja in the 27th over saw Pandya at the fall short as Jadeja was not in a mood to sacrifice his wicket. A livid Pandya walked back disappointed to the dressing room and quite frankly, all the nails in the Indian coffin had already been hammered.
From then on, it looked that Pakistan have outplayed their arch-rivals by a good margin and the wickets of Ravichandran Ashwin (1), Ravindra Jadeja (15) and Jasprit Bumrah (1) fell in quick succession. Pakistan finally went to win their maiden Champions Trophy title.
Virat Kohli was of course a disappointed man but he was proud of his team who had done well so far to reach to the finals. Also, with international cricket being abandoned in Pakistan, this win would definitely good a world of good if someday, the stands in the country’s cricket grounds are to be full of people cheering for their country.
It was fairy-tale ending for Sarfaraz Ahmed and his men who after being thrashed by a 124-run margin in their first game against India , staged a memorable fightback to make it to the finals and beat the defending champions by such a big margin. Indeed, dreams do come true and Pakistan’s emphatic yet unprobable victory proved just that.
This win would be remembered as one of their best ever, besides their successful 1992 World Cup campaign and the 2009 ICC World T20 triumph. This could turn out to be the beginning for bigger and better things to come for Pakistan cricket. Well done Pakistan!
Golden bat winner- Shikhar Dhawan (338 runs)
Golden Ball winner- Hasan Ali (13 wickets)
Player of the match- Fakhar Zaman
Player of the tournament- Hasan Ali
Pakistan 338/4 (Fakhar Zaman 114, Azhar Ali 59; Kedar Jadhav 1/27) beat India 158 all out in 30.3 overs (Hardik Pandya 76, Yuvraj Singh 22; Mohammad Amir 3/16) by 180 runs.