Over the years, the Pakistan cricket team has established a reputation for their ability to surprise. And surprise they did in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, after they walked away with the title – despite qualifying for the event as the lowest placed team.
In the final, they annihilated India with a complete performance; batting first, Pakistan posted 338-4, their bowlers then destroyed the Indian top-order within minutes of the start of the run-chase. The fielders too took all the opportunities that came their way. Pakistan bundled India out for 158 in just under 30 overs.
Pakistan, underdogs at the start of the day, walked away ‘Champions’, courtesy their 180-run win – their biggest win over India in ODIs.
India’s Batting Collapse
It was a rare forgettable day in the office for Virat Kohli’s side, who’ve been so good in recent times. India were the best batting side in the competition –by a mile– but law of averages caught up with the Indian team on the wrong day.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, who had together scored 874 runs – accounting for 81.4% of the team’s runs before the final, collectively contributed only 26 runs in the Final against Pakistan. India were eventually bowled out for 158 – their second-lowest total in ICC ODI events.
Big opening stands have been something Pakistan has desperately wanted in recent times. Their average opening stand in 10 ODIs before the Champions Trophy was 39.30. However, the team has reaped rewards for taking a brave and not-so-common decision of blooding a youngster in a big tournament such as this one. Since replacing the experienced Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the innings, Fakhar Zaman has gone from strength to strength; he made an impressive 31 on debut and has bettered his score on every subsequent visit to the crease.
At the Oval on Sunday, the left-hander, who was caught behind off a No Ball when on 3, made India pay for their largesse, as he went on to score his maiden century in international cricket. Zaman has established a reputation as being a free-spirited batsman – someone who can be impossible to stop if he gets going. Zaman going hard at the top has meant pressure doesn’t build on Azhar Ali at the other end, and as a result, Pakistan have benefited from significant partnerships at the top. In the four innings Zaman and Ali have batted together, they have stitched together partnerships of 40, 74, 118 & 128 – all of them coming in very good time.
Once Pakistan were provided such a platform – 128 in 23 overs, they were always going to post a score in excess of 300. Courtesy cameos from Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim towards the end, Pakistan eventually finished with 338-4 – their highest total in the history of the Champions Trophy.
History said, Pakistan were going to defend the runs; having never before lost an ODI at an ICC event after scoring in excess of 300. The outcome did not depart from the script.
Mohammad Amir started the rout, dismissing India’s top three, while the leg-spinner Shadab Khan picked up two middle-order wickets to ensure there was no revival to India’s run-chase. Then came Hasan Ali, who polished off the innings.
Barring his first match of the tournament – against India, Hasan Ali has picked up 3 wickets in each of the next four matches he has played in; on Sunday, he returned figures of 6.3-1-19-3. He finished the tournament as the highest wicket-taker – with a tally of 13 wickets – which is the joint-highest in a single edition of the Champions Trophy.
In this day and age, there are few wicket-taking bowlers; Hasan Ali is one of them. After 21 ODIs, he has 42 wickets – the most by any Pakistan bowler; even the dangerous Wasim Akram (25), Waqar Younis (30) and Shoaib Akhtar (35) didn’t have as many. If utilized correctly and if he can maintain his fitness, Hasan Ali will be a huge asset for Pakistan cricket in the years to come.
There’s an old adage in cricket – ‘Batsmen win matches, Bowlers win tournaments’. Pakistan showed in the Champions Trophy that there is truth to that saying. Barring the match against India, the Pakistan bowlers did exceptionally well to keep their opponents down to modest totals in the remaining matches; South Africa were restricted to 219-8, Sri Lanka were bowled out for 236, and in the semi-final, England were bundled out for 211.
In the final, after the batsmen came good for the first time in the competition, the Pakistan bowlers joined the party and bowled out the opposition for the third time running.
Pakistan’s pace bowling attack certainly had a huge role to play in the team walking away with the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. The bowlers were certainly their tournament winners!