OVAL: Pakistan completed a stunning turnaround by thrashing arch-rivals India by 180 runs to claim their maiden ICC Champions Trophy title at the Oval.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s side suffered a shambolic 124-run loss to India on DLS in their first match a fortnight ago but closed the campaign a team transformed with their fourth win in a row.
Opener Fakhar Zaman (114) – brought into the side after that opening defeat – laid the platform in the final by striking his maiden ODI century in a total of 338-4.
Mohammad Amir (3-16), who sat out the semi-final win over England with a back spasm, then dismissed Virat Kohli for five as India’s top order folded to 54-5.
By the time the defending champions were skittled for 158 in 30.3 overs, Hardik Pandya top-scoring with a brutal 76 off 43 balls, Pakistan looked anything but the eighth and bottom-ranked team in the competition.
Fakhar cashed in on a major let-off when he was caught behind off a Jasprit Bumrah front-foot no-ball with just three to his name, the opener punishing India by hitting three sixes and 12 fours off 106 balls.
Together with Azhar Ali (59), he put on 128 for the first wicket – Pakistan’s highest opening stand against India in an ICC tournament – and it took a run out to separate them as Fakhar was guilty of ball-watching.
The left-hander failed to let the horror mix-up deter him – striking Ravindra Jadeja for six over long on and following up with a brace of boundaries as Pakistan raced up to 150 in the 26th over.
He reached his century off 92 balls by sweeping Ravichandran Ashwin for four and launched the spinner for six in his next over before aiming a huge blow off Hardik Pandya to leg only to top-edge into the off-side – ending a 72-run stand with Babar Azam.
Fakhar left to a standing ovation and handed the baton to Babar, who saw Shoaib Malik hole out off the economical Bhuvneshwar Kumar before failing to clear the rope himself, caught off Kedar Jadhav at long off.
The momentum remained with Pakistan as Mohammad Hafeez pummelled three sixes and four fours, putting on an unbroken 71 with Imad Wasim (25no) who enjoyed a remarkable slice of luck when a delivery from Bumrah bounced forcefully off his wicket without dislodging a bail.
Given that the highest successful run-chase in an ODI at the Oval was the 322-3 scored by Sri Lanka against India 10 days ago, Kohli’s side needed a strong start to defy history.
Instead Amir wreaked havoc at the start of the reply, trapping Rohit Sharma lbw with his third ball and then inducing a leading edge from Kohli one ball after the skipper had been put down at slip by Azhar.
Even Golden Bat winner Shikhar Dhawan couldn’t resist Amir’s persistent accuracy, edging through outside off-stump, and when teenage spinner Shadab Khan successfully convinced Sarfraz Ahmed to review a ‘not out’ lbw decision against Yuvraj Singh India’s hopes were fading fast at 54-4.
Wickets continued to fall cheaply – MS Dhoni falling into a leg-side trap on the pull and Kedar Jadhav top-edging an attempted pull off Shadab before Pandya struck three sixes in a row off the spinner to post a 32-ball fifty, the fastest in a world ODI final.
Any thought of the unlikeliest of victories was snuffed out when Pandya was run out by the length of the pitch after a mix-up with Jadeja.