Pakistan beat the champions to become champions

Pakistan have become the seventh different nation to win the Champions Trophy, by beating the then defending champions India by a whopping 180 runs in the Final of the 2017 edition. Chasing a whopping 339, the Indian batsmen fell like nine pins to incisive bowling from all the Pakistani bowlers and were bundled out for 158 in the 30th over. Having lost their first match of this tournament to India, Sarfraz Ahmed and co. have inspired themselves by winning the next four and wresting the trophy from their arch-rivals. June 18, 2017 will go down as one of the worse days in Indian Cricket and Virat Kohli and co. could not have picked a worse day to put in their worst display in this tournament and for some time in this format of the sport.

The Champions Trophy had been the only one missing in Pakistan’s trophy cabinet and by winning this tournament, they have ended what was an eight-year wait for a major title.

Fakhar Zaman was the player of the Final for his 106-ball 114, and Hasan Ali won the player of the tournament award, for taking 13/191 in five matches.

Pakistan all the way

Pakistan had put themselves in the driver’s seat by posting 338/4 and they came out to bowl with all the energy they will have drawn from a scintillating display produced by their weak link, the batting. Mohammad Amir found the right line and length straight away, and the languid Rohit Sharma was caught napping on the third delivery of the innings. With the ball straightening after pitching, Rohit was rapped on the pads and was given out. Dismissing one of the three key Indian batsmen took Pakistan a step closer to a massive upset.

Amir kept steaming in and in his sights was the biggest fish and master chaser, Virat Kohli. The Indian skipper had experienced a bad day on the field, but now was his time to take matters into his hands as a batsman. Unenviably, he had to come out to face the music on the fourth delivery of the innings. Amir’s incision was too hot to handle for Kohli as well and he lasted only nine balls before the Pakistani left-arm pacer did him in with an outswinger. Two big wickets down and just one standing in the way.

India had been reduced to 6/2 in the third over and after Kohli was dismissed by Amir, the defending champions had left themselves with too much to do. Mickey Arthur had said in the pre-match presser that Pakistan’s aim was to take early wickets and get into the Indian engine room as quickly as possible. Although what Pakistan’s coach had said was a no-brainer and right, the Indian middle order weren’t even up for a fight and the old warhorses MS Dhoni (4) and Yuvraj Singh (22) along with Kedar Jadhav (9) were dismissed cheaply, to leave India starring at one of their big-margin defeats.

Shikhar Dhawan, in the aftermath of Kohli’s dismissal, had hit a troika of boundaries with crisp hits through the off-side. He had been in good touch throughout the tournament and he is not incapable of playing the type of innings that this situation demanded. But on the last ball of Amir’s fifth over and penultimate over of his only spell in the match, the Delhi left-hander edged through to Sarfraz behind the stumps, leaving India tottering at 33/3.

Hardik Pandya played a great knock of 76 (43), giving Team India and their fans the slightest of hope even after half-a-dozen wickets had fallen. And while he shared an 80-run partnership with Jadeja for the seventh wicket, India will have hoped to set some panic in the Pakistani ranks. But a miscommunication between these two batsmen, just at a time when Hardik was striking the ball sweetly and sending it out of The Brit Oval consistently, put the Final beyond India’s reach.

Except for one over of Shadab Khan, the 23rd of the innings, in which Hardik hit the leg-spinner for three sixes and a four, all the Pakistani bowlers excelled with the ball. They didn’t have a lot to do after the batsmen had given them a massive cushion of runs and the consequent pressure on the Indian batsmen. But Mohammad Amir and co. stuck to their task and got the wickets at the precise moments of the Final to win it by a whopping 180 runs.

Amir and Hasan Ali took three wickets each and Shadab ensured that Pakistan didn’t have to put up with any Indian resurgence, by dismissing Yuvraj and Jadhav in quick succession.

An ideal start

Pakistan were off to the perfect start, with Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman putting on 56 runs in the first powerplay (1-10 overs). Azhar assumed the role of the aggressor and played positively. If the ball was a little short and wide, or full and on the pads, the right-hander took full toll of the bowler’s error. Zaman had a nervy opening to his innings and will have been out for just 3 if Jasprit Bumrah had not over-stepped in the fourth over of the innings. Zaman, who had been kept on a tight leash, nicked through to MS Dhoni. However, Bumrah had planted his front foot well above the crease and Zaman, who was on his way to the dressing room, was called back.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a great bowling rhythm about him and barely bowled one hit-me ball. In his first five overs, the UP seamer was only hit for one four and went for just 10 runs. At the other end, however, Bumrah lost his way after he had denied himself a wicket by over-stepping. He struggled to get his lines right because of the right-left combination. As a result, he bowled half-a-dozen wides in his first five overs. India not only failed to take an early wicket but their frontline bowlers (Bhuvneshwar, Bumrah and Ashwin) had been expensive as well.

Making the momentum count

By not losing an early wicket and having one of their batting mainstays in the middle, Pakistan’s innings continued to prosper. Zaman had made an iffy start but started hitting the ball better as his innings wore on. He moved back and forth well in his crease and cut and pulled well. The left-hander was particularly severe on Ravindra Jadeja, who offered width and was inconsistent in his line of attack as well. The pitch offered no turn and the two Indian spinners who didn’t want to bowl slowly and flight the ball, were lined up by Zaman, in particular.

Zaman was tactically very astute and anticipated what the Indian bowlers might have in store for him. Every time he had played a cut or a pull, Zaman was aware that Jadeja and Ashwin might try to get the ball close to him, readying himself for the drives along the ground or lofted drives in front of the wicket. This ability to out-think the bowler was what helped Zaman singlehandedly garner 28 runs in overs 26 and 27, with Pakistan collecting 36 runs and disallowing the run-out of Azhar affect the momentum of the innings. Azhar played second fiddle once Zaman started striking the ball better and scoring freely as a result. A miscommunication between the two Pakistani openers and a good piece of fielding from Bumrah helped the Men in Blue make a breakthrough on the last ball of the 23rd over.

With three of the frontline bowlers having a bad day, Hardik Pandya had a massive job to do for his captain and his team. And the Baroda all-rounder excelled with the ball, providing India some control from at least one end. Hardik didn’t bowl many boundary balls and went past the outside edge of Babar Azam a handful of times. Azam began slowly and from India’s perspective, they were a lot happier to bowl to him.

Zaman, at the other end, continued to cause plenty of problems for Kohli and damage to Ashwin’s and Jadeja’s bowling figures. Once he had gotten into his groove, Zaman didn’t lose momentum and kept finding the boundary. The Indian bowlers had no answer to Zaman’s clean striking. The 27-year-old left-hander brought up his first ODI century in the 30th over by sweeping Ashwin for a four behind square on the leg-side. He looked good for more but miscued a short delivery from Hardik and was brilliantly caught by Jadeja at point. Zaman’s 106-ball 114 set up an 180-run win for Pakistan.

India denied a way back

Zaman’s dismissal didn’t really have an adverse effect on the Pakistani innings, which continued to have sizeable partnerships. Mohammad Hafeez, who you don’t normally associate with big-hitting albeit he is a sweet timer of the cricket ball, made a 37-ball 57 (4×4 and 3×6) to take Pakistan to 338/4. Imad Wasim, who was promoted ahead of captain Sarfraz Ahmed, made a 21-ball 25 (1×4 and 1×6) and shared a 71-run partnership for the fifth wicket with Hafeez.

Kohli’s captaincy left a lot to be desired for probably the first time in his tenure. Kedar Jadhav took 2/22 in six overs against Bangladesh and his spell was the foremost reason why India came back and won the semi-final. But on a day the two spinners struggled and Bumrah failed to tie the batsmen down, Kohli opted to not bring the Maharashtra batsman into the attack until the 39th over and at a time when Pakistan had two right-handers (Azam and Shoaib Malik) in the middle. Jadhav did a good job and had conceded just 11 runs in his first two overs. Jadhav’s two economical overs prompted Kohli to give him another over and Pakistan pounced on the naivety from the Indian captain, scoring 16 runs off it.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar was by far India’s best bowler, who began well and conceded just 10 runs his first five overs. But most importantly, with Pakistan having set themselves a wonderful platform, the Sunrisers’ pacer came back into the attack in the 40th over and ensured that Pakistan didn’t post a 350+ score which they seemed well capable of. While three of India’s bowlers had an economy rate of 7 or in excess of 7 runs per over, Bhuvneshwar bowled more than a tidy spell of 1/44 in his 10 overs. He was the only frontline bowler to finish his quota of overs.


Playing XIs

Pakistan: 1. Sarfraz Ahmed (c and wk), 2. Azhar Ali, 3. Fakhar Zaman, 4. Babar Azam, 5. Mohammad Hafeez, 6. Shoaib Malik, 7. Mohammad Amir, 8. Imad Wasim, 9. Hasan Ali, 10. Shadab Khan, and 11. Junaid Khan

India: 1. Virat Kohli (c), 2. Rohit Sharma, 3. Shikhar Dhawan, 4. Yuvraj Singh, 5. MS Dhoni (wk), 6. Kedar Jadhav, 7. Hardik Pandya, 8. Ravindra Jadeja, 9. Ravichandran Ashwin, 10. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah


Pakistan 338/4 (Zaman 114, Azhar 59 and Hafeez 57; Bhuvneshwar 1/44)
India 158/10 (Pandya 76; Amir 3/16 and Hasan 3/19)

Pakistan innings (toss: India, who chose to bowl first)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Azhar Ali run out Bumrah/Dhoni 59 (71) 6 1 83.09
Fakhar Zaman caught Jadeja, bowled Pandya 114 (106) 12 3 107.54
Babar Azam caught Yuvraj, bowled Jadhav 46 (52) 4 0 88.46
Shoaib Malik caught Jadhav, bowled B Kumar 12 (16) 0 1 75.00
Mohammad Hafeez not out 57 (37) 4 3 154.05
Imad Wasim not out 25 (21) 1 1 119.04
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Sarfraz Ahmed, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, and Shadab Khan
Extras: 25 (3 no-balls, 13 wides and 9 leg byes)
PAK’s total: 338/4 in 50 overs, at 6.76 runs per over
Fall of wickets: 128/1 (Azhar, 22.6), 200/2 (Zaman, 33.1), 247/3 (Malik, 39.4), and 267/4 (Azam, 42.3)
India bowling
Bowlers Overs Maidens Runs conceded Wickets taken  Economy rate
B Kumar 10 2 44 1 4.40
Jasprit Bumrah 9 0 68 0 7.55
R Ashwin 10 0 70 0 7.00
Hardik Pandya 10 0 53 1 5.30
Ravindra Jadeja 8 0 67 0 8.37
Kedar Jadhav 3 0 27 1 9.00
Indian innings (target: 339 in 50 overs, at 6.78 runs per over)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Rohit Sharma leg before wicket Amir 0 (3) 0 0 0.00
Shikhar Dhawan caught Sarfraz, bowled Amir 21 (22) 4 0 95.45
Virat Kohli caught Shadab, bowled Amir 5 (9) 0 0 55.55
Yuvraj Singh leg before wicket Shadab 22 (31) 4 0 70.96
MS Dhoni caught Wasim, bowled Hasan 4 (16) 0 0 25.00
Kedar Jadhav caught Sarfraz, bowled Shadab 9 (13) 2 0 69.23
Hardik Pandya run out Hafeez/Hasan 76 (43) 4 6 176.74
Ravindra Jadeja caught Azam, bowled Junaid 15 (26) 0 0 57.69
R Ashwin caught Sarfraz, bowled Hasan 1 (3) 0 0 33.33
B Kumar not out 1 (8) 0 0 12.50
Jasprit Bumrah caught Sarfraz, bowled Hasan 1 (9) 0 0 11.11
Extras: 3 (1 wide and 2 leg byes)
IND’s total: 158/10 in 30.3 overs, at 5.18 runs per over
Fall of wickets: 0/1 (Rohit, 0.3), 6/2 (Kohli, 2.4), 33/3 (Dhawan, 8.6), 54/4 (Yuvraj, 12.6), 54/5 (Dhoni, 13.3), 72/6 (Jadhav, 16.6), 152/7 (Pandya, 26.3), 156/8 (Jadeja, 27.3), 156/9 (Ashwin, 28.1), and 158/10 (Bumrah, 30.3)
Pakistan bowling
Bowlers Overs Maidens Runs conceded Wickets taken  Economy rate
Mohammad Amir 6 2 16 3 2.67
Junaid Khan 6 1 20 1 3.33
Mohammad Hafeez 1 0 13 0 13.00
Hasan Ali 6.3 1 19 3 2.92
Shadab Khan 7 0 60 2 8.57
Imad Wasim 0.3 0 3 0 6.00
Fakhar Zaman 3.3 0 25 0 7.14

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