Zaman, Ali heroics helps Pakistan clinch Champions Trophy title

Pakistan inflicted a massive 180-run defeat upon title-holders and favourites India at the Oval in London on Sunday to win the tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day worldwide nations.

Mohammad Amir, who did not play in the semis, produced a brilliant spell of pace bowling and took the price scalps of the top three Indian batsmen to leave the Men in Blue at bay. We now have two years to identify a squad we want to take forward and give them enough game time.

Left-arm fast bowler Amir, whose career was nearly ended on the other side of London’s River Thames by a ban and jail term he received for his part in a spot-fixing scam during a 2010 Test against England at Lord’s, was superb.

Pakistan, made to bat first for the first time in the tournament, racked up a final-record innings of 338-4, founded on a 128-run opening stand between Fakhar Zaman, who earned his maiden one-day global century with 114, and Azhar Ali, who was run-out on 59. On the greatest stage sparked further by the rivalry of the two nations, Fakhar could have been forgiven for playing a more contained game.

“A lot of people had vibes that we might not be able to defeat India, that their batting is too strong for us to handle”.

While paying homage to the jaw-dropping spell of Mohammad Amir the former Sri Lankan skipper expressed, “The in-swinging delivery to get Rohit Sharma was flawless and against Kohli he was undaunted by a dropped catch at first slip, nailing his man at the backward point immediately after. However, our batting and bowling were up to the task today”, he concluded.

Kohli accepted his side had been second best as he acknowledged Pakistan’s “amazing tournament”.

In reply, India were all out for 158 runs in 30.3 overs. “They can upset anyone on their day”, said Kohli in the post-match presentation ceremony. In reply India was skittled with almost 20 overs to spare.

Yuvraj Singh was lbw to leg-spinner Shadab and former captain MS Dhoni, the hero of many an India rescue mission, holed out in the deep.

It was a stunning turnaround for Pakistan, which was ranked eighth in the eight-team competition and lost its opening group match against India by 124 runs.

But he only looked to be delaying the inevitable and a mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja saw him run out for 76.

Hardik Pandya cheered India fans in a capacity crowd as he hit three sixes off succesive balls to bring up a dashing fifty. By the time the unsafe Fakhar was dismissed, he had caused carnage with shots all around the Oval and had made a magnificent 114 as Pakistan reached 200. The players, including Hasan Ali, Babar Azam, Fahim Ashraf and Ahmed Shehzad, were warmly welcomed at the airport by the provincial ministers and a large number of cricket lovers and fans of the players.

“Like many of his youthful colleagues, he did not carry the psychological scars of previous failures to arch-rivals India and it showed”, he added.