Pakistan entered the ICC Champions Trophy as the tournament's bottom-ranked side; it left the Oval on Sunday with the top prize. Fakhar Zaman scored an entertaining, cavalier hundred before Mohammad Amir starred with the ball as Pakistan drew a line under years of hurt, beating India by an emphatic 180 runs in the final. It had been eight years since Pakistan achieved victory over its south westerly neighbour in a global event. Talk about choosing the moment.
Chasing 339 for victory, due in no small part to a disappointing bowling display, India sank to 158 all out in 30.3 overs. Rohit Sharma fell three balls into the second innings, trapped leg before by Amir. Virat Kohli, who walked in next, was dropped on five by Azhar Ali at first slip. Pakistani shoulders slumped but India's captain lasted only one more ball, closing the face of the bat early as the edge was grabbed at point. Zaman had been similarly reprieved in the morning, when he was caught off a no-ball for three. He went on to add the small matter of 111 runs.
Shikhar Dhawan, who had hitherto had a fine time in England, followed Kohli, edging Amir behind for 21. Yuvraj Singh and M.S. Dhoni then departed in the space of four balls. Yuvraj was out leg-before to Shadab Khan on review, and Dhoni pulled Hasan Ali straight to the fielder on the square leg boundary.
Only Hardik Pandya offered resistance, producing an astonishing counter-attacking innings. He hammered six sixes in his 43-ball-76 and appeared to have breathed life – however little of it – back into the contest. His run out, however, ended a partnership of 80 (57b) for the seventh wicket and killed the game off. India lost its last four wickets for six runs in 25 balls as Pakistan celebrated its first major ODI success since 1992 and first global trophy since the 2009 World T20.
In the morning, after Pakistan had been invited to bat first, Zaman rode his luck. He could have been run out for one and Jasprit Bumrah appeared to have struck early when he had Zaman edge behind. Replays showed, however, that Bumrah had overstepped. India would pay dearly. Zaman came out swinging like he has all tournament, his approach uncomplicated, his mind free of doubt. There were inside edges, a boundary off the helmet, a couple of wild heaves that evaded fielders; but nothing rattled Zaman. Instead, it was India that was shaken. The left-hander, who at one stage was training to join the Pakistan Navy, was severe on Ravindra Jadeja and R. Ashwin, both of whom struggled. Jadeja was short and wide, when he was cut, or predictable, when Zaman stepped out to swipe him over the infield.
At the other end, Azhar Ali, usually staid and unremarkable, unfurled some shots of his own as Pakistan's openers put together a partnership of 128 runs. Ali's run-out for 59 brought India some relief but appeared to have galvanized Zaman, who soon launched Jadeja and Ashwin over the ropes and raced from 60 to 100 in 15 balls. He raised his first international century – what an occasion to bring it up — with a sweep to the fence at square leg. It was an ungainly shot, but like the rest of his innings hugely effective.
India was desperate for a foothold in the game when Pandya broke through, getting rid of Zaman as Jadeja took an excellent catch running back from point. Shoaib Malik and Babar Azam threatened to explode before they were claimed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Kedar Jadhav respectively. That slowed Pakistan down somewhat but Mohammad Hafeez proved an unlikely aggressor, wallloping a 34-ball half-century as India's bowlers suffered. It did not help that they delivered 13 wides (out of 25 extras) and three no-balls, with Ashwin and Bumrah particularly guilty. Pakistan ran up its highest total of the tournament. It would prove well beyond India's reach.
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