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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Pakistan show bright side of their unpredictability with 2017 Champions Trophy victory against India

Pakistan celebrate winning the ICC Champions Trophy
©Reuters

June 18, 2017 - Pakistan arrived in the 2017 Champions Trophy as the lowest-ranked team among the eight participating nations. The fact was only reiterated when they were on the receiving end of a 124-run thrashing at the hands of India in their opening fixture.

 

However, Pakistan did not take long to turn the tide. They did not have long anyway, given the format of the tournament. A 19-run victory against South Africa brought about by the DLS method allayed their fears of an early knockout. 

They backed it up with a 3-wicket win against Sri Lanka and a highly unanticipated 8-wicket victory against England in the semi-final.

India, on the other hand, started well with their win against Pakistan but were jolted after a 7-wicket loss against Sri Lanka. A victory against South Africa by 8 wickets and a 9-wicket win against Bangladesh in the semis, saw them reach the final in style.

As the two teams squared off in the big final, India were overwhelming favourites. They had beaten Pakistan by 124 runs just a few days ago after all. When India won the toss and chose to bowl, a few eyebrows were raised. The team had not bowled first in the entire tournament and taking such a decision in the final, when runs on the board are always handy, was a questionable move.

On top of that, the fact that Pakistan have never been a good chasing side also played in their hands. Brushing those fears aside, India started well with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah right on the money. Bhuvi set things up with a maiden over. Bumrah's first over conceded just three.

In the first three overs, Pakistan failed to strike even a single boundary. And, it seemed to be working its magic. Fakhar Zaman, desperate to break free, was caught behind. However, much to the delight of the Pakistan fans and the dismay of the Indian supporters, it turned out to be a no-ball from Bumrah and Zaman got a life.

 

 

The opener made full use of it, smashing 114 runs from just 106 deliveries including 12 fours and 3 sixes. He was in the zone that day and seemed to be batting almost on autopilot mode.

A crucial contribution from Babar Azam and the closing punch from Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan to 338. The target was certainly not out of India's reach but given the big stage, they needed a good start.

What they got was just the opposite, with the big three in Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan all dismissed within the powerplay, with the scoreboard reading just 47.

Mohammad Amir was the wrecker-in-chief for Pakistan as he removed all the three big guns. Hardik Pandya provided some hope with a flashy cameo, plundering 76 off 43 deliveries at a strike rate of 175. But, as soon as he was part of a mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja and was run-out, all hopes of India's victory went to the dogs.

Pakistan, after having badly lost the first game, now gave India a taste of their own medicine, when it mattered the most by clinching the final by 180 runs.

"After the India match, I said to the boys that the tournament doesn't finish here. Good cricket, positive cricket, and we will win. Thanks to the team management. And look we are here today," Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was on the moon after the win.

The team which had entered the tournament as the lowest-ranked side returned with the crown firmly placed on its head.

 

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