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Champions Trophy final: How Eid came early for Pakistan

All-round flair leads tournament's lowest-ranked team to the podium

 India’s players watch the presentation ceremony of the ICC Champions Trophy final after losing to Pakistan by 180 runs at The Oval in London yesterday. Pic/AFP India's players watch the presentation ceremony of the ICC Champions Trophy final after losing to Pakistan by 180 runs at The Oval in London yesterday. Pic/AFP

The real India did not turn up at the Oval for the Champions Trophy final yesterday. In fact, it was sort of a role reversal, with Pakistan playing like India had all through the tournament. The defending champions faltered big time when it mattered the most, while Pakistan, who ironically had started by losing to the Indians, emerged champions.

Pakistan’s Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century during the Champions Trophy final against India. Pic/Bipin PatelPakistan's Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century during the Champions Trophy final against India. Pic/Bipin Patel

It was not only the defeat by a massive 180 runs, but also the manner in which India played that will rankle them. Nothing went right from the word go with Indian bowlers having a miserable day. No doubt, the pitch was benign, but they erred in line and length and to add to it, Jasprit Bumrah no-balled a delivery, which would have got Fakhar Zaman when he was on three. Zaman went on to score his maiden ODI century and helped Pakistan pile up 338-4 after being put in to bat.

Pakistan got off to a tentative start after being inserted. Azhar Ali was run out after a brisk 59Pakistan got off to a tentative start after being inserted. Azhar Ali was run out after a brisk 59

Once Pakistan posted an imposing total, the pressure was entirely on the Indian batsmen, and with fit-again Mohammed Amir getting rid of in-form Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, the writing was on the wall. It was an uphill task thereafter. Hardik Pandya kept up the fight with a hard hitting 76. But his run out following a misunderstanding with Ravindra Jadeja just typified the day India had at the Oval.

Fakhar Zaman, lucky to be caught behind off a Bumrah no-ball, cut loose after Ali’s dismissal and  laid the platform with 114
Fakhar Zaman, lucky to be caught behind off a Bumrah no-ball, cut loose after Ali's dismissal and laid the platform with 114

On hindsight, it can be said that it was a big mistake by Kohli to opt to chase a target in such a high-voltage game. But the simple fact remains that India did not play well, especially with the way they bowled and fielded. Their two main spinners Ashwin and Jadeja, went for over eight an over, while barring Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the other two pace bowlers Bumrah and Pandya were just not able to keep the Pakistani batsmen in check.

Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez finished in style, putting on 71 in 7.3 overs
Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez finished in style, putting on 71 in 7.3 overs

Besides the Bumrah no-ball that deprived India of an early breakthrough, the Indian fielders just could not find the target and missed out on many run out opportunities. It was to the credit of Pakistani batsmen that they made the most of the lady luck smiling on them. Besides Zaman's 114, the other opener Azhar Ali contributed 59 in an opening stand of 128, while one-drop Babar Azam compiled a neat 46.

Mohammed Amir crippled the Indian chase, getting rid of the Top 3 within 10 overs
Mohammed Amir crippled the Indian chase, getting rid of the Top 3 within 10 overs

Then, Mohammed Hafeez tightened the screws with a brilliant unbeaten 57, from just 37 balls, with four boundaries and three sixes. Going into the final, India's top three batsmen, Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli had collectively scored 80 per cent of the runs the team had made.

Hardik Pandya played a lone hand as India folded for 158
Hardik Pandya played a lone hand as India folded for 158

Once Amir had devoured the three in a superb opening spell of six overs, it virtually ended the match as a contest.

Though Pandya played a brave lone hand, India had too much ground to cover, with Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav failing to get going.

180 Pakistan's margin of victory is the highest by a team in an ICC tournament final

Five The number of wickets India lost 14 overs yesterday

Six The number of sixes hit by lower order batsman Hardik Pandya in his 76. He was the only six-hitter for India

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