London: A brilliant opening spell by Mohammed Amir followed by a near flawless performance in the field led to Pakistan taking the Champions Trophy with astonishing ease. They won by 180 runs against an India side widely tipped to prevail before the start.
Even after Pakistan had chalked up 338, which owed much to a barnstorming century from the new boy, Fakhar Zaman, there was still the feeling that the target was well within India’s compass, especially given Virat Kohli’s incredible record of scoring runs when chasing.
But Amir, who had to miss the semi-final because of a back spasm, soon banished these thoughts with bowling of such quality that it conjured up memories of Wasim Akram in his pomp.
Earlier, rookie opener Fakhar Zaman cashed in on a lucky reprieve to hit a scintillating hundred, guiding Pakistan to an imposing 338 for four as Virat Kohli’s decision to bowl first proved costly for India in ICC Champions Trophy final here today.
Playing his first ODI tournament, the 27-year-old left- hander got a “life” when he was batting on four as Jasprit Bumrah overstepped despite MS Dhoni taking a simple catch behind the stumps.
Zaman made full use of the opportunity to punish the Indian attack on a day when it mattered most.
His 114 off 106 balls had 12 fours and three big sixes with the maiden ton coming off only 92 balls.
Along with senior pro Azhar Ali (58 off 71 balls), Zaman set the platform with a 128-run partnership for the opening wicket and consolidated it further with a whirlwind 72 off 63 balls with Babar Azam (46 off 52).
By the time Ravindra Jadeja took a well-judged catch off Hardik Pandya to remove Zaman, the teams total had reached 200 mark.
The final flourish was provided by veteran Mohammed Hafeez (57 off 37) with help of four boundaries and three sixes. He added 71 for in 7.3 overs with Imad Wasim (25 no off 21).
To add insult to injury, India bowled 13 wides and three no-balls in what was a woeful day for all, save Bhuvneshwar Kumar (1/44 in 10 overs).
The two Indian spinners Ravichandran Ashwin (0/70 in 10 overs) and Ravindra Jadeja (0/67 from 8 overs) got a pounding from Zaman, who would clear his front leg and muscle the deliveries through on-side, occasionally hitting the inside out shot through extra cover.
He got a few streaky boundaries upfront but then settled in to give each Indian bowler, a mighty thwack.