Revelation and redemption helped Pakistan turn world cricket’s order upside down as Fakhar Zaman’s maiden one-day international century and Mohammad Amir’s brilliant new-ball spell underpinned a landslide 180-run win over India in the Champions Trophy final.
Fakhar rode his luck for a spellbinding 114, caught-behind from a no-ball on three and escaping a run-out chance with just a single to his name in Pakistan’s total of 338 for four at The Oval.
Amir (three wickets for 16 runs), still winning his sport over again after his criminal role in the 2010 spot-fixing saga enacted seven years ago and just a handful of miles away at Lord’s, then reduced India to 33 for three – a perilous situation from which the overwhelming favourites were unable to recover, despite some astounding hitting from number seven Hardik Pandya (76).
Pandya raced to his half-century in 32 balls, with the third of three successive sixes in one over from Shadab Khan – but after pressing on to a new career-best, with four fours and six maximums, he was run out in a hapless mix-up with Ravindra Jadeja which encapsulated India’s miserable day.
Their defence of the title they won in England in 2013 foundered against the team who began the campaign ranked below all other competing nations at eighth, and lived up to that billing in an opening group match in which they lost to their greatest rivals by 124 runs.
What a difference two weeks have made, though, Fakhar, pictured, delivering at every attempt after being brought in for his debut at the age of 27 and Amir’s pace and swing proving too good here for Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan – who could add only 26 runs between them to the 895 they had made over the previous four matches.
Amir produced an irresistible spell in which he pinned Rohit lbw for a duck with fast inswing, had Kohli dropped at second slip in his second over, then gone to a catch at point next ball, and Dhawan edging extra bounce behind.
When teenage leg-spinner Shadab then struck in his first over via DRS, hitting Yuvraj Singh pad before bat, and MS Dhoni pulled Hasan Ali (three for 19) for a tumbling catch in the deep, India were washed up at 54 for five. There was no realistic way back and they eventually folded to 158 all out in 30.3 overs.
Pakistan have been starved of international cricket in their own country since an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009, forcing them to play their ‘home’ series at neutral venues and Mohammad Hafeez, who made an unbeaten 57 off 37 balls, said the win was for the Pakistan public.
“It’s a great, great team effort from where we came from because we knew after losing the first game, we were nowhere,” said the former captain. “And then we just showed great, great character and I am really happy because it’s all for the nation of Pakistan because they’ve been waiting for such a long time.
“We wanted to inspire the whole nation because we have been missing this for the last nine years with no cricket at home. I think this is something we wanted to do because the millions of people at home were waiting for this.”
India captain Kohli accepted his side had been a distant second best.
“I want to congratulate Pakistan and their supporters,” he said. “They had an amazing tournament. The way they turned things round speaks volumes for the talent they have. It’s disappointing for us but I have a smile on my face because I’m very proud of how we’ve played in this tournament. They outplayed us, they were more intense and passionate on the day.”