A fearsome burst of pace bowling from Mohammad Amir consigned India to a horror 180-run defeat at The Oval on Sunday as Pakistan won their maiden ICC Champions Trophy title with plenty to spare.
Chasing Pakistan’s 338 for four, India went down without a fight as the defending champions lost three in-form batsmen in the first nine overs. Hasan ‘bomber’ Ali took three wickets for 19 to polish off the Indian tail. Pakistan won with 117 balls to spare.
Hardik Pandya’s 43-ball 76 was the lone bright spot in India’s batting, but his run out gave Pakistan an easy passage to victory.
Mohammad Amir, who reported fit just in time for the mouth-watering final, wiped out the top order with clever use of the seam and length as Pakistan attacked like a pack of hungry dogs.
On Saturday morning, the Indians were practising ‘banana’ freekicks. On Sunday, Mohammad Amir literally bent the ball like Beckham to catch Rohit Sharma plumb in front of the wicket and then got the better of an indiscreet Virat Kohli.
Kohli had been preaching the message of composure throughout the Champions Trophy but on a big day, the captain lost control even after enjoying a life the previous ball.
When Azhar Ali spilled a regulation catch after Kohli edged Amir to first slip, Pakistan’s heart sank. Did Pakistan drop their first ICC Champions Trophy?
Kohli did not learn from his mistake. To Amir’s credit, he bowled the next ball cross-seam and pitched just back of length. Kohli’s mistimed flick went to backward point.
If Kohli’s wicket gave Pakistan resolve, Amir found the edge of Shikhar Dhawan’s tentative bat to add extra belief. The wicket also exposed India’s untested middle order.
India lost Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni in the space of four balls. Yuvraj looked good for his 31-ball 22 but leg-spinner Shahdab Khan won an LBW decision via the TV umpire. Dhoni too lost composure, pulling Hasan Ali to deep square leg.
Imad Wasim’s diving catch at deep square leg reflected Pakistan’s eagerness to play good cricket. They never lost control even after Pandya launched into their spinners. After Junaid Khan got rid of Ravindra Jadeja, it was just a matter of time.
Earlier, Fakhar Zaman’s maiden ODI hundred (114) and his 128-run opening wicket stand with Azhar Ali helped Pakistan pile on a formidable 338 for four wickets.
A classy fifty by Azhar Ali (59), Babar Azam’s 46 and Mohammad Hafeez’s cavalier 57 not out off 37 balls added muscle to the Pakistan innings.
Fakhar Zaman stood out with his cavalier knock after enjoying a huge slice of luck when on 3. He had edged an expansive drive to the keeper, but Jasprit Bumrah had bowled a no ball. That came to hurt India in a game where the margin of error was virtually nil.
THE ‘LIFE’ THAT HURT
That ‘life’ emboldened the 27-year-old left-hander to launch into the Indian attack that was far less impressive with its line and length on an all-important day. Fakhar made India pay through their nose.
India chose to field after Virat Kohli called correctly. It looked the right decision considering the fact that the pitch was a new one with a tinge of green and India’s quick bowlers – Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar – had delivered in the previous matches against South Africa and Bangladesh.
India conceded 56 runs in the first 10 overs. This was the first time in this ICC Champions Trophy that India’s bowlers gave away so many runs in the first powerplay. India conceded 91 runs (five fours and four sixes) in the last 10 overs, taking just one wicket.
ERR IN LINE
Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar erred in line and length. Full toss on the pads, width outside off and short balls with no venom were punished easily by the Pakistan batsmen. The pulls and cuts were used liberally.
Pakistan paced their innings well. With wickets in hand, their middle order was in full cry.
Mohammad Hafeez used his experience and footwork to score runs at a rapid clip. Having smashed three fours off the first seven balls he faced, Hafeez raced to his 32nd ODI 50 off 34 balls. He produced an invaluable 71 runs for the unbroken fifth wicket with Imad Wasim, who remained undefeated on 25.