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After suffering a loss to India by 124 runs in their opening match of the tournament, few would have predicted Pakistan to go all the way into the finals. Finals are a far cry as pundits predicted them to crash out of the tournament after the group stage. Ultimately, the rain-gods, some sheer luck and some good performances saw Pakistan propel themselves to the finals of Champions Trophy 2017.
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed spoke about this turnaround and spoke at the post-match press conference and said, “After the India game, the credit goes to the team management how they boosted us. Every game was a knockout game. Today as well they told us to not think about the match and just play the natural game. That helped us.”
However, it must be remembered here that Pakistan’s journey to the finals has been anything but steady. After a dramatic loss to India in the opening encounter, they won against South Africa courtesy of DLS. But it was in the final group that they truly had a see-saw ride as oppositions as Sri Lanka dropped as many as three catches. The fielding too was woeful which gave skipper Sarfraz Khan two lives in a crunch situation. Ultimately it was Sarfraz’s knock which took Pakistan into the final. After that win, Sarfaraz himself could not believe his luck and said, “Drop catches are part of the game. Allah helped us and that’s why Pakistan won today.”
However, one of the main reasons for Pakistan’s dramatic turnaround has also been the emergence of Hassan Ali. Ali has been crucial for Pakistan’s success since the past year.
Since 2016 he has played 20 matches where he has picked up 39 wickets at an average of 23.92. They also involve two five-wicket hauls. But most interestingly 28 of those wickets came in 2017, which explains his contribution in Pakistan’s recent success. Along with him, Mohammad Amir has also bowled with equal venom and aggression. Young Shadab Khan has also added a lot of variety. The batting has also improved with the addition of Fakhar Zaman. He has complemented Azhar Ali quite well.
Hence, in this path to the final of the Champions Trophy, Pakistan has truly lived up to its tag of unpredictables but has also staged a dramatic resurrection which their fans will surely love.