London: Pakistan lived up to the Champions Trophy tag, which says where heroes becomes champions.
After being thrashed by defending champions India in the Group B opener, Sarfraz Ahmad’s men outplayed India in the final to snatch the coveted trophy.
Answering to a query from Gulf News whether Eid has come early for the Pakistan team, a proud and smiling coach Mickey Arthur, who orchestrated the team’s victory said: “Yeah, I suppose so, it has come early.”
As it happened:
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad then said: “Hopefully, this win everyone will remember, not today, not tomorrow, very long, long time. Credit goes to my team management.
"They worked really hard after the first defeat. They motivated us. They put on hard work because when we arrived here, we were No. 8, and now we are the champions. This win will boost Pakistan cricket and, hopefully, all playing nations will come to Pakistan.”
Ahmad then hailed his youngsters.
“After the India [group] match I said to my boys, the tournament is not finished yet. Fakhar Zaman is a great impact player and in his first ICC event, he played like a champion. He can become a great player for Pakistan.
"All credit goes to my bowlers — Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Shadab Khan, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Hafeez. They bowled really well. It’s a young team, credit goes to my boys. We played like we had nothing to lose, now we are champions. It’s a proud moment for me and my country, and thanks to the fans for supporting us.”
Kohli: We give our best everytime
Indian skipper Virat Kohli, when asked whether with such a strong batting line-up, did his batsmen throw away their wickets.
“Players, as well, individually, everyone wants to go out there and do well. No one goes out there to throw their wicket away or get out. We give our best every time we go out on the field, and I’m really proud of the way the team has played in this tournament.
“The cricket is played between two teams. There’s no one team on the box, so you have to accept losses, you have to accept that the other team has outplayed you and they’ve shown better skill than you, they’ve shown better composure in pressure situations than you.
“Yes, we have shown the composure in pressure situations most often in this tournament, but that is no guarantee that you’re going to do it every time. Obviously, your best effort is to try and do it every time, but cricket is not about doing well in every game that you play.
"You will have failures, and one team has to lose on the day, and today was our day to lose because the opposition played much better than us.”
Kohli went on to even say that he has no shame in admitting his team did not play at their best and praised the Pakistan team.
Pakistan's bowling credited
“I said, credit to the opposition. They’ve also come to express their skill and win a cricket game, and they certainly did. They had to own their win.
"They made us make those mistakes because of the way they were bowling and the way they applied the pressure in the field, as well, and we have no hesitations or shame to admit that we could not play our best game today.”
On the field, Pakistan did at the Oval what the Indians did to them in the group stage match at Edgbaston.
After rising up from their whipping at Edgbaston, the Pakistan players scaled to great heights in determination to win the Champions Trophy which has always eluded them.
India’s batting, considered the strongest, crumbled before the Pakistan bowlers led by Amir, who wiped away the cream of the Indian batting with three wickets, followed by Hasan Ali with three wickets and Shadab Khan with two more, to bowl India out for 158 in 30.3 overs.
It was Pakistan’s day at the Oval. Put in to bat, Pakistan piled up 338 for 4, riding on 27-year-old Fakhar Zaman’s century and his 128 runs opening partnership with Azhar Ali in 22.6 overs.
Playing only in his fourth One Day International, Zaman cracked 114 in 106 balls with 12 boundaries and three sixes. The in-form and consistent Ali hit 59 off 71 balls with six fours and one six.
Based on the platform provided by their openers, Babar Zaman cracked 46 off 52 balls with four boundaries and added 72 runs in just 10.1 overs for the second wicket.
Though the next batsman Shoaib Malek lasted only 16 balls to score 12 runs, he too, added 47 runs in 6.3 overs maintaining the run rate of over seven runs.
Pakistan sailed past the 300 run mark through Mohammad Hafeez’s unbeaten 57 off 37 balls with four boundaries and three sixes and put on 71 runs in 7.3 overs with Imad Wasim unbeaten on 25.
It was a shocking start for India with opener Rohit Sharma getting trapped leg before to a Amir inswinger for a duck to the third ball of the innings.
In the third over, Virat Kohli was dropped by Azhar Ali at slip off Amir’s third ball, but he had him out with the next ball when he flicked and the leading edge went to Shadab Khan at backward point for 5. Yuvraj Singh and Shikhar Dhawan added 27 runs in 6.2 overs when Dhawan, wanting to glide Amir to third man, edged to the wicketkeeper and Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad for 21. It was a beauty of a cross seamer with extra bounce.
In the 13th over, leg spinner Shadab Khan had Yuvraj Singh leg before by turning the ball sharp. In the next over, Mahendra Singh Dhoni too departed, pulling to Imad Wasim for 4, and Pakistan had by then taken full control of the match. When Kedar Jadhav too fell for 9 to Shadad, Pakistan’s victory was just a formality.
The only glitter in India’s innings was Hardik Pandya’s breezy 76 runs off 43 balls with four boundaries and six sixes before being run out. He tried his best to liven up the spirits of the Indian fans with three successive sixes off Shadab Khan and put on 80 runs in 9.3 overs for the seventh wickets with Ravindra Jadeja (15).
Earlier, India won the toss and began their attack through Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who bowled a maiden over.
He showed signs of moving the ball. Jasprit Bumrah, with his ramrod straight arm action, did hit Fakhar Zaman’s pad in the second over and appealed for a leg before. Soon the openers faced the Indian pacers comfortably.
Zaman, on 4, nicked Bumrah to Dhoni but the replay showed Bumrah had bowled a no ball. There after the Pakistan openers were in full flow, refusing to commit any mistakes. Ali began stroking beautifully and a short-arm jab off Bumrah to the boundary showed he was seeing the ball beautifully.
Zaman played the pull shots effectively — especially against Kumar. India introduced strike bowler Ravichandran Ashwin in the eighth over. Ali hit him over long off for a six to announce he was determined to take on the bowlers. The pair reached their 50 runs partnership in 9.2 overs when Ali swept Ashwin for a boundary.
It was a treat to watch Zaman picking the gaps for boundaries, often directing the fielders. Hardik Pandya was introduced in the 15th over but Ali slashed him in the air to the third man boundary.
A desperate Indian skipper Virat Kohli — wanting to stem the run flow — introduced Ravindra Jadeja in the 16th over. None could stop the openers who recorded their 100 runs partnership in 18 overs until Ali got run out.
Bumrah tripped over and fell on top of the ball but picked it up and threw to wicketkeeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Ali paid the price for his partner Zaman watching the ball and not responding.
Babar Azam joined Zaman and the pair continued smoothly. Zaman reached his maiden century in 97 balls. Pandya finally ended Zaman’s knock in the 34th over. Zaman hit in the air and Jadeja took a well judged catch running back from point.