Pakistan have hammered fierce rivals India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval to claim their first major ODI tournament in a quarter of a century and complete an astonishing comeback in a tournament not even their most ardent supporters had expected them to win.
A fortnight after they were thrashed by the same opponent at Edgbaston to leave their campaign on a knife’s edge and a cricket-mad nation demanding answers, Pakistan romped to a 180-run victory on a beautiful Sunday in south London to win their first major title since the 1992 World Cup.
It was Pakistan’s biggest margin of victory ever against India in ODI cricket and their first win against them at a major tournament since 2009.
Their triumph was built on a maiden century from rookie opener Fakhar Zaman, playing just his fourth ODI, and a stunning three-wicket opening spell from paceman Mohammad Amir, who had missed their semi-final win over England due to a back injury.
After Fakhar’s 114 and half-centuries from Azhar Ali (59) and Mohammad Hafeez (57no from 37 balls) guided Pakistan to 4-338, their highest ODI total away from home in seven years, Amir removed Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan in his first five overs to effectively end India’s hopes of achieving what would have been a record chase in the tournament.
The turning point of the day came at the start of the fourth over when Jasprit Bumrah had Fakhar caught behind for just three, only for replays to show the right-armer had overstepped.
The reprieve came less than an over after Kedhar Jadhav missed a throw at the stumps that would have caught Fakhar well short, while Azhar was also given a life on 29 when Rohit Sharma’s throw at the non-striker’s end was off target.
And Pakistan’s new opening pair made a rattled Indian side pay as they added 128 for the first wicket, the nation’s highest opening stand against their great rivals outside Asia, before their partnership was fittingly ended when Azhar was run out in the 23rd over.
But Fakhar made up for the horrible mix-up, striking 12 fours and three sixes to produce his maiden international century in his first-ever game against India.
Eleven days after he made his debut against South Africa, Fakhar became the first Pakistan batsman to score three 50-plus scores in his first four ODIs and the first man from his country to score a century in the final of a major event.
After some late fireworks from Hafeez helped set an imposing total, Amir single-handedly exposed an Indian middle-order that had been desperately short of time in the middle due to the prolific form of Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli earlier in the tournament.
Pakistan’s win was secured a short time later, the defending champions ripped out for just 158 in the 31st over to complete a memorable fightback and spark celebrations from London to Lahore.
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