Unpredictable Pakistan came from nowhere to lift the Champions Trophy, beating favourites India by 180 runs in a dramatic match at the Oval last night.
Ranked a lowly eight in the ICC one-day cricket ranking, Pakistan did not start the tournament well. They were soundly thrashed by India in the group match, sliding to a 124-run defeat.
But a victory against Sri Lanka, South Africa and later England boosted their confidence and self-belief.
This victory will go a long way in lifting Pakistan cricket which was struggling for credibility in both Tests and the shorter versions.
Credit must go to captain Sarfraz Ahmed for turning around the fortunes of his side. Needing a victory against Sri Lanka to make it to the last four, Pakistan were tottering at 137 for 7, chasing 236.
But Sarfraz with an unbeaten 61 found an able ally in Mohammed Amir and the two put on a fighting partnership to take Pakistan an unexpected to victory.
This was just what the doctor ordered for the struggling team. Faith in their abilities came back and suddenly Pakistan became a force to reckon with in the tournament.
For India, it was another failure to complete a mission which started strongly. They seem to lack the determination when it really mattered. It is time for some serious introspection.
Put into bat, Pakistan reached 338 for four in their allotted 50 overs. The winning total was shaped by a magnificent century by the consistent Fakhar Zaman. He was ably helped by Azhar Ali (59) and Babar Azam (46).
A late hitting spree by the much-maligned Mohammed Hafeez stretched Pakistan’s score to beyond 300.
Indian bowlers put a shabby performance. The pace bowlers often bowled short and were punished.
The spinners were totally ineffective, with the shrewd Pakistani batsmen not letting them settle.
The usually attacking Ravichandran Ashwin was trying to bowl defensively and was rendered totally ineffective. Unfortunately, he continued to bowl in the same fashion without trying attacking tactics.
Ravindra Jadeja’s limitations were exposed when the batsmen attacked him relentlessly.
India’s fielding was pathetic and lethargic.
Pakistan’s strength has always been their bowling and led by Mohammed Amir, they did not let the team down.
Amir reduced India to 33 for three with quick wickets. He came good when Pakistan needed him most.
India began to lose wickets at regular intervals and the result was inevitable.
India’s batting was pathetic with none of the batsmen willing to stay at the wicket. Only Hardik Pandya provided some fireworks with a hard-hitting 76 off 43 balls.