LONDON: Pakistan, humiliated in their ICC Champions Trophy opener against India just two weeks ago turned the tables around completely as they avenged their arch-rivals in an even more humiliating manner after they win the eight-team tournament by beating them by 180 runs at The Oval in London on Sunday.
Opener Fakhar Zaman set the platform for the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side with a brilliant 106-ball 114 backed up by half centuries from Azhar Ali (59) and Mohammad Hafeez (57 not out) to give bowlers an ideal scoreboard pressure on a powerful Indian batting which was bundled for 158 in 30.3 overs.
The win is huge for Pakistan who came into the Champions Trophy ranked eigth in the ODI rankings having cancelled a series with Zimbabwe in fear of losing their place in the seond-most prestigious global event.
Mohammad Amir, who missed Pakistan’s semi-final win over England due to inury, gave Pakistan’s target defence an ideal start removing the top three — Rohit Sharma (0), Virat Kohli (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (21) — who had scored 784 runs before this game in the tournament.
Rohit was trapped leg-before with the third ball of the innings and in his second over Amir bagged the prized scalp of Virat Kohli.
Kohli did get a life off the second ball when Azhar dropped a regulation catch at first slip. It could have been costly but Pakistan took a sigh of relief when, off the very next ball, Kohli was caught at point by Shadab Khan off a miscued on drive.
Amir returned from the other end to remove tournament’s top run scorer Dhawan, leaving India struggling at 33-3.
Leg-spinner Shadab confidently reviewed a leg before decision against veteran left-hander Yuvraj Singh and got that in his favour to further push India back before Hasan Ali made it 54-5 when he had former skipper MS Dhoni hooking into the hands of Imad Wasim.
Hardik Pandya swung his bat with good effect during his 43-ball 76 with six sixes and four boundaries but that was too little too late for the holders.
Hasan finished with 3-19 to take his tally to 13 in the tournament, getting the Golden Ball for the best bowler of the tournament. Amir finished with 3-16 while Shadab took 2-60.
Earlier it was Pakistan’s batsmen’s day.
Pakistan blasted 338-4 in their 50 overs after Kohli sent them into bat on a fresh Oval pitch but it proved to be a blessing for Pakistan.
With the sun shining Pakistan openers took big risks as there were some close run out chances and one dismissal albeit off a no-ball.
Just like they say fortunes favour the brave, Fakhar had edged Jasprit Bumrah to wicketkeeper Dhoni for three and was half way through to the pavilion when umpires called him back as the bowler had over-stepped.
Fakhar took full advantage of that life, smashing all his three sixes off Ravichandaran Ashiwn coupled with 12 boundaries.
Here is an opener who look all set to cement his place, having scored two fifties and a 34 in his first three games.
Azhar Ali has also shown intent to change, as if he got the current from Fakhar, lofting Ravindera Jadeja for the first six of fhe innings. Together they set the platform with a 128-run stand in 23 overs. That added to their 40, 74 and 116 run stands harbours hopes that finally Pakistan’s opening woes have been solved.
For the first time Indian bowling looked chaotic, bowling 13 wides and three no-balls added to wayward bowling. A normally economical Ashiwn went for 70 in his ten and Bumrah conceded 68 in his nine.
Pakistan also targetted Jadeja and part timer Kedhar Jadhav who between them conceded 94 in their 11 overs.
Babar Azam (46) added another 72 for the second wicket with Fakhar before the left-hander holed out off Hardik Pandya in the 34th over. Babar and Shoaib Malik (12) fell in the space of 20 runs and it looked Pakistan might squander the early advantage but Hafeez struck his runs off just 37 balls, hitting four boundaries and three sixes. Together with Imad Wasim (21 not out) Hafeez added 81 runs, with 91 coming off the last ten overs.
The win is Pakistan’s only third in 16 ICC event matches, all coming in Champions Trophy.
Pakistan had beaten India in 2004 and 2009 Champions trophy.
A proud Sarfraz lifted the trophy, with Pakistan also getting 2.2 million dollars in prize money. India received 1.1 million dollars as runners-up.