Un­fan­cied Pak­istan wins Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy for cricket in style

Alive - - Contents - by Vi­jayan Bala

Over con­fi­dent In­dia licked the dirt in the fi­nal fac­ing a hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat by an un­der-rated team, Pak­istan.

Un­fan­cied Pak­istan, the low­est ranked in the 2017 Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy cricket tour­na­ment won the ti­tle in its maiden en­try to the fi­nal by crush­ing de­fend­ing cham­pion In­dia by 180 runs on 18 June at the Oval, Eng­land.

Put into bat, Pak­istan gave its best bat­ting dis­play in the tour­na­ment. Thanks to a fine 114 (off 106 balls and in­clu­sive of 12 fours and 3 sixes) by ag­gres­sive left-hand opener Fakhar Za­man, who made his de­but vs South Africa in this tour­na­ment, Pak­istan scored 338 for 4 in its 50 overs. Za­man shared in a 128 run open­ing stand with Azhar Ali (59 run out) and a sec­ond wicket stand of 72 with Babar Azam (46).

Fi­nally, Md. Hafeez (57 not out off 37 balls) and Imad Wasim (25 not out off 21 balls) put on an un­bro­ken fifth wicket stand of 71 to take Pak­istan to 338 for 4. Pace­man Bum­rah did get Za­man caught be­hind by Dhoni off a no ball (so it served no pur­pose) when the bats­man was only 3 and the side’s score was 8. For In­dia, Bhu­vnesh­war Kumar and Hardik Pandya bowled quite well.

When In­dia be­gan its dif­fi­cult chase, Pak­istan pace­man Md. Amir was at his very best. Amir with some bril­liant swing bowl­ing dis­missed In­dia’s top three runget­ters – Ro­hit Sharma leg be­fore for 0, Vi­rat Kohli caught off a lead­ing edge at point for 5 and Shikhar Dhawan, the tour­na­ment’s high­est runget­ter, caught be­hind for 21 and In­dia was reel­ing at 33 for 3.

The rest of the in­nings was very dis­ap­point­ing with the ex­cep­tion of Hardik Pandya, who cap­i­talised on some poor spin bowl­ing and re­luc­tance of the op­po­si­tion to go for the kill, to score a bel­liger­ent 76 off 43 balls in­clu­sive of 4 fours and 6 sixes. Pandya had hit 3 sixes off Imad Wasim in one over in his 20 not out against Pak­istan in the open­ing Group match.

Quick dis­missal

How­ever, when the pace­men re­turned, In­dia was dis­missed for 158 in 30 overs and three balls – los­ing the cru­cial match by 180 runs. For Pak­istan, Amir was the star with 3 wick­ets for 16 runs. He was well sup­ported by Hassan Ali (3 for 19), Shadab Khan (2 for 60) and Ju­naid Khan (1 for 20).

Shadab’s first few overs were re­ally good and he tricked ex­pe­ri­enced

play­ers like Yu­vraj and Kedar Jad­hav. Sar­faraz im­pressed with his cap­taincy in the tour­na­ment. In the fi­nal, he took four catches.

Pak­istan opened its Group B fix­tures play­ing In­dia at Edg­bas­ton on 4 June. The young Pak­istan crick­eters in the side seemed over­awed and, as a re­sult, bowled poorly and fielded badly miss­ing one easy and cru­cial catch in par­tic­u­lar. The bowl­ing at­tack was so ruth­lessly pun­ished that the bats­men did not put up a fight. So In­dia coasted to a big 124run win un­der the D/L method in a rain-af­fected match.

The sim­ple catch was dropped by Hassan Ali of Man Of The Match Yu­vraj Singh when the bats­man was on 8. It proved very costly as Kohli and Yu­vraj put on 93 in very quick time – hit­ting the ball with dev­as­tat­ing power.

Pak­istan also paid heav­ily for pre­fer­ring a not-fully-fit Wa­hab Riaz to Ju­naid Khan. Nev­er­the­less, the huge de­feat against In­dia made Pak­istan re­cover from its slum­ber and they were a dif­fer­ent team af­ter that game.

In the sec­ond Group match, Pak­istan met South Africa at Edg­bas­ton. South Africa de­cided to bat first in this day-night fix­ture. In its fifty overs, South Africa mainly due to a fine 75 not out by David Miller reached 219 for 8. Miller was well sup­ported by Chris Mor­ris (28) and Kag­iso Rabada (26). The Pak­istan bowlers bowled well with Hassan Ali tak­ing 3 for 24.

Con­sis­tent per­for­mance

Pak­istan’s in­nings was in­ter­rupted by rain. Play was fi­nally stopped due to the weather af­ter 27 overs were com­pleted in Pak­istan’s in­nings. At that stage, Pak­istan thanks to some ag­gres­sive and sound bat­ting by their top or­der-debu­tant Fakhar Za­man, Babar Azam, Md. Hafeez and Shoaib Ma­lik were 119 for 3. This helped Pak­istan win by 19 runs un­der the D/L method.

Pak­istan’s fi­nal Group match against Sri Lanka was vir­tu­ally a knock­out game – the win­ner mak­ing it to the semi-fi­nal. The game turned out to be a most well-fought and ex­cit­ing one. Put into bat first, Sri Lanka col­lapsed from 161 for 3 to 236 all out in 49 overs and 2 balls. For Sri Lanka, N. Dick­wella scored 73, Mathews (39), Gu­naratne (27) and Lak­mal (26). Ju­naid Khan and Hassan Ali took 3 wick­ets each.

Set to score 237 for a win, Pak­istan started well with Fakhar Za­man (50) and Azhar Ali (34) putting on 74 for the first wicket. Pak­istan then col­lapsed to 162 for 7 when Amir joined skip­per Sar­faraz Ah­mad. Sar­faraz (61 not out) and Amir (28 not out) put on an un­bro­ken 75 for the 8th wicket and took Pak­istan to the semi-fi­nals.

Pak­istan won by 3 wick­ets but they were for­tu­nate that Sar­faraz was dropped twice off Malinga. The first of those chances was a very sim­ple one that was put down by This­ara Per­era. It was Pak­istan’s first en­try to the semi-fi­nal of this tour­na­ment.

Beat­ing Eng­land

In the semi­fi­nals, Pak­istan met Eng­land – the top team in Group A at Cardiff. Eng­land had won all its Group matches quite con­vinc­ingly and were deemed favourites. Un­fan­cied Pak­istan put up a su­perb all-round per­for­mance to win by 8 wick­ets and en­ter the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy for the first time.

Pak­istan won the toss and put Eng­land to bat. From a solid 80 for 1, Eng­land col­lapsed to 211 all out in 49 overs and 5 balls. Pak­istan’s bowl­ing, de­spite the ab­sence of Md. Amir who was not fit, was most im­pres­sive. Hassan Ali with 3 for 35 was the best bowler on view. He was sup­ported by left arm pace­men Ju­naid Khan and new cap Rum­man Raees and spin­ners Shadab Khan, Md. Hafeez and Imad Wasim. The Pak­istan catch­ing was quite good – the one Fakhar Za­man took of Moeen Ali was ex­cep­tional.

Set 212 for a win, Pak­istan be­gan with a 118-run open­ing stand be­tween Azhar Ali (76) and Fakhar Za­man (57). This was fol­lowed by part­ner­ships of 55 for the sec­ond wicket be­tween Azhar Ali and Babar Azam and an un­beaten 42-run third wicket stand be­tween Babar Azam (38 not out) and Md. Hafeez (31 not out) which took Pak­istan to an eightwicket win. With this im­pres­sive win, Pak­istan en­tered the fi­nal of the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy for the first time.

De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons In­dia played its first Group B match against Pak­istan. Pak­istan won the toss and put In­dia to bat. The In­dian open­ing pair of Ro­hit Sharma (91) and Shikhar Dhawan (68) put on 136. Af­ter the dis­missal of Ro­hit Sharma, Yu­vraj Singh came in at num­ber 4 to join Vi­rat Kohli with the score at 192 for 2.

Man Of The Match Yu­vraj, who scored a de­ci­sive 53 off just 32 balls, was dropped by Hassan Ali – a sit­teroff Shadab Khan with his in­di­vid­ual score on 8 and the side’s score on 205. Af­ter that, Yu­vraj and Vi­rat who scored 81 not out off 68 balls gave a bru­tal ex­hi­bi­tion of bat­ting tak­ing the score to 285-3 at very quick pace.

Win by chance

Hardik Pandya (20 not out) who joined Kohli af­ter Yu­vraj’s dis­missal hit 3 sixes in one over off Imad Wasim and In­dia fin­ished at 319 for 3. Set 320 for a win in first 48 overs and then 289 in 41 overs, Pak­istan due to a mix­ture of poor bat­ting and bad run­ning be­tween the wick­ets man­aged only 164 in 33 overs and 4 balls. Riaz did not bat due to in­jury. Azhar Ali was top scorer with 50. In­dia won by 124 runs by the D/L method. Umesh Ya­dav took 3 wick­ets.

In­dia suf­fered a shock­ing 7-wicket de­feat at the hands of Sri Lanka in its sec­ond Group match at the Oval. Bat­ting first, In­dia put on an im­pres­sive 321 for 6 in fifty overs. Shikhar Dhawan (125) and Ro­hit Sharma (78) put on 138 for the first wicket. Vi­rat Kohli went for zero and In­dia were 139 for 2. MS Dhoni (63 off 52 balls) and Kedar Jad­hav (25 not out off 13 balls) helped In­dia reach its fi­nal score.

Sri Lanka started its re­ply poorly

los­ing its first wicket of N Dick­wella at 11. Af­ter that, all the other Sri Lankan bats­men played sen­si­ble and pos­i­tive cricket en­sur­ing that Sri Lanka scored a most im­pres­sive 7wicket win.

For Sri Lanka, two bats­men – opener Gu­nathi­laka (76) and Kushal Mendis (89) were run out. The two of them put on 159 for the sec­ond wicket. Kushal Per­era re­tired hurt on 47 and then skip­per An­gelo Mathews (52 not out) and Gu­naratne (24 not out off 21 balls) en­sured that Sri Lanka won. The In­dian bowl­ing lacked va­ri­ety and pen­e­tra­tion and was hon­estly bereft of ideas. Off spin­ner Ash­win was missed.

In­dia cruises into semis

In­dia’s fi­nal league game in Group B at the Oval turned out to be a knock out game for a place in the semi-fi­nals. With the South African bats­men in par­tic­u­lar play­ing and run­ning be­tween the wick­ets like im­ma­ture school kids, In­dia cruised to an easy 8-wicket win and en­tered the semi-fi­nals.

Put into bat, South Africa scored only 191 in 44 overs and 3 balls af­ter a sound open­ing stand of 76 be­tween Hashim Amla and Quin­ton de Kock. Set 192 to win, In­dia reached the tar­get for the loss of two wick­ets with 12 overs to spare. Ash­win made a use­ful re­turn.

In­dia’s op­po­nent in the semi-fi­nal at Edg­bas­ton was Bangladesh – a team for­tu­nate to make it to the last four be­cause of one out­stand­ing part­ner­ship and strong teams like Aus­tralia and New Zealand not be­ing able to per­form to ex­pec­ta­tion ei­ther be­cause of rain in­ter­fer­ence or due to an un­ex­plain­able lack of killer in­stinct.

The one great part­ner­ship that brought Bangladesh into semi-fi­nal con­tention was the match-win­ning 224-run fifth wicket stand be­tween Shakib-Al-Hasan (114) and Mah­mudul­lah (102 not out) against New Zealand at Cardiff. The two bats­men came to­gether with Bangladesh at 33 for 4 af­ter Southee had bowled a great open­ing spell. Aus­tralia’s loss at the hands of Eng­land en­sured a semi-fi­nal berth for Bangladesh.

In the semi-fi­nal at Edg­bas­ton, In­dia’s bat­ting rose to great heights by chas­ing and achiev­ing a tar­get of 265 with 9 wick­ets in hand and 9.5 overs to spare. Put into bat, Bangladesh scored 264 for 7 mainly due to a third wicket stand of 123 be­tween Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mush­fiqur Rahim (61). An un­beaten sec­ond wicket stand of 178 be­tween Ro­hit Sharma (123 not out) and Vi­rat Kohli (96 not out) helped In­dia win com­fort­ably. Shikhar Dhawan scored 46.

In­vin­ci­ble Eng­land

Eng­land showed great con­sis­tency in its Group A matches – win­ning all three of them. They were the only side in the tour­na­ment to do so. On the open­ing day of the tour­na­ment, Eng­land de­feated Bangladesh con­vinc­ingly by 8-wicket at the Oval. Eng­land fol­lowed up this win with an­other fine 87-run win over New Zealand at Cardiff. In its fi­nal league match, Eng­land com­pre­hen­sively de­feated Aus­tralia at Edg­bas­ton by 40 runs un­der the D/L method. Eng­land would have com­fort­ably won the game any way.

Aus­tralia who were trou­bled by the weather lost a point each in its first two games. Its over­all per­for­mance was dis­ap­point­ing. So were the per­for­mances of New Zealand and South Africa. Sri Lanka de­spite field­ing a young side showed prom­ise. Sri Lanka was out­stand­ing when it suc­cess­fully chased down In­dia’s 321. Sri Lanka was also a lit­tle un­for­tu­nate to lose to Pak­istan.

Pak­istan, the ul­ti­mate cham­pi­ons, won this tro­phy for the first time in its maiden en­try to the fi­nal. Pak­istan skip­per Sar­faraz Ahmed earned the dis­tinc­tion of win­ning his sec­ond ICC tour­na­ment as Pak­istan cap­tain and that too de­feat­ing In­dia on both oc­ca­sions in the fi­nal.

The ear­lier oc­ca­sion was the 2006 ICC un­der 19 fi­nals in Sri Lanka. The Man Of The Match in the fi­nal was Fakhar Za­man while the Player Of The Tour­na­ment was Hassan Ali. The Golden Bat award for the high­est runget­ter went to Shikhar Dhawan (338 runs at 67.60) and the Gold Ball award for the high­est wicket taker went to Hassan Ali, who took 13 wick­ets at an av­er­age of 13.60.

Hardik Pandya smashed a blis­ter­ing 43-ball 76 stud­ded with four fours and six sixes, be­fore a mas­sive mix-up with Ravin­dra Jadeja ended his in­nings.

Pak­istanʼs Fakhar Za­man scored record 114 runs against In­dia in the fi­nal match.

Mo­ham­mad Hafeez smashed a bel­liger­ent 37-ball 57 to pro­vide the late im­pe­tus as Pak­istan surged to 338 for 4 in its 50 overs.

Pak­istan vows for strong show­ing against In­dia af­ter their de­feat in first match.

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