DateLine: 18th June 2017
By Andy Jalil at KIA Oval
Pakistan dominate as India humbled in final
London – Unpredictable they may be, but undoubtedly brilliant too on their day. Pakistan lifted the Champions Trophy after inflicting a crushing 180-run defeat on India who were the favourites in this competition and certainly the favourites for this match. Having suffered a loss to India in the group stages it wasn’t just a question of getting back on equal terms with a win in the final but also a question of pride when playing against the great rivals.
The improvement in the Pakistan side came swiftly after the initial loss to India and by the time they reached the semi-final they were a strong and confident side as they showed with a marvellous performance in the defeat of England. While their victory in the final was an excellent team effort, there were some outstanding individual performances.
Man-of-the-match Fakhar Zaman played a memorable innings to set the platform for Pakistan’s impressive total and while Hasan Ali with three for 19 was also the leading wicket-taker in the competition and named player of the tournament, it was Mohammad Amir who tore into the strong India batting line-up claiming the wickets of India’s three best batsmen at the top of the order.
Chasing 339 runs, the highest total of the competition just ended, India lost Rohit Sharma in the first over, trapped in front on the stumps by Amir before scoring and in his next over the left-armer had Virat Kohli held at point after being dropped at slip on the previous ball. Amir had figures of three for 16 in 28 balls and he had ripped apart the India batting. There wasn’t much to come from the shocked side thereafter.
Young spinner Shadab Khan accounted for Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav and in between those two wickets, Hasan Ali had MS Dhoni caught at square leg. Some lusty hitting, which brought 76 from 43 balls including 6 sixes to Hardik Pandya, saw India to 152 for seven. They lost both the eighth and ninth on 156 and two runs later the innings was wound up with as many as 19.3 overs to spare.
Earlier, Virat Kohli would have wondered if he had made a wrong decision in asking Pakistan to make first use of a perfect batting pitch. Azhar Ali and Fakhar gave Pakistan a magnificent start with their second consecutive century opening stand. They put on 100 from 116 balls with the second fifty of it coming from 53 balls. Both batsmen brought up their half centuries in the same over. It was Azhar’s third in this competition from 61 balls and Fakhar needed a ball less for his after square cutting Ravi Jadeja twice in the over.
On 128, India got the breakthrough when Azhar, on 59, played to mid-wicket and rightly called for a run but Fakhar did not respond. There was certainly a run there and the blame must go to Fakhar who, on 3, was bowled off a no-ball by Jasprit Bumrah in the fourth over but then went on to give a marvellous exhibition of free strokeplay. He got to 71 with a six over long-on followed by a cut for four off Ravi Jadeja. Another six and four in the same over off Ravi Ashwin saw him 89.
There was no stopping him as he totally dominated the bowling and getting to 93 with yet another four before going on to sweep Ravi Ashwin to the boundary to reach three figures from 93 balls and Pakistan’s 200 was up in 207 balls. At that point Fakhar’s superb innings of 114 from 106 balls ended with Ravi Jadeja taking a fine catch running back at square leg. Shoaib Malik went for 12 and after the fourth wicket fell with Babar Azam held for 46 on the long-off boundary Pakistan were 267.
An unbroken stand of 71 in only 47 balls for the fifth wicket between Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim saw the 300 up from 286 balls as they entertained the capacity crowd made up predominantly of India and Pakistan supporters. Hafeez’s unbeaten 57 came from 37 balls and included three mighty sixes in addition to 4 fours and he was well supported by Imad with 25 not out. They finally took Pakistan to a highly impressive 338 for four.
(Article: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author only.
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