Before the final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Pakistan opening pair of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali had given them a timely boost. In the semi-final against Bangladesh, both the openers put on a 100-run stand, the first for Pakistan in four years. It was rare for Pakistan but for the openers, it is becoming a habit.
1-10 overs: India won the toss and as expected, decided to ball on a dry pitch at The Oval. Pakistan would have hoped that the openers once again get going, especially in a match as big as the final of ICC Champions Trophy against India. But they did not. On the 19th ball of the innings, Jasprit Bumrah got Fakhar caught behind. Pakistan would have been eight for one but luck favoured them. Bumrah had overstepped. Both openers then put their head down and Pakistan scored 56 runs in the first 10 overs. Bhuvneshwar bowled five overs for 10 runs. Indian fielding also disappointed at the start. They had a potential four run-out chances but failed to hit the stumps.
11-20 overs: Having set the platform for a good score, Fakhar and Azhar never let the advantage slip. They continued scoring at s steady rate. They targeted one bowler while rotating the strike against the other. R Ashwin was the one bowler they went after and by the end of the 20th over Pakistan were 114 for no loss. That is their second consecutive 10-run stand. Pakistan last did this in 2003. Both the openers scored their half-centuries. For Fakhar it was his third consecutive in four ODIs.
21-30 overs: India desperately needed a breakthrough to be back in the game. But the opening stand for Pakistan was only growing. At the start, India had missed many run-out chances but the one offered by Azhar and Fakhar in the 23rd over was not missed. Bumrah threw it to MS Dhoni who removed the bails as both openers were stuck on the same end. India had got the breakthrough but the problems only increased. Babar Azam slowly came into his own and took on the Indian bowlers. Fakhar, meanwhile was approaching his maiden century in ODIs. Pakistan 179/1.
31-40 overs: Fakhar could not have found a better match to score his first century in ODIs. A sweep off Ashwin that reaches the boundary and gives the three-figure to the opener! Pakistan were set for a big total as they had increased their scoring rate from 5.5 to over six. Pakistan brought up their 200 in the 33rd over and looked good for a 350. Fakhar was going bonkers and scoring at will and through boundaries. But a mistimed shot off Pandya ended his stay in the middle. Shoaib Malik fell early as well but Pakistan were on course for a big total.
41-50 overs: At the end of the 40th over, Pakistan were 247 for the loss of three wickets. With seven wickets in hand, a 340-plus target was in sight for them. But India managed to slow down the proceedings in the first five overs of the final ten. But, Pakistan still managed 91 runs in those overs with Mohammad Hafeez scoring quickfire half-century. India’s spinners Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja went for a combined 127 runs off 18 overs.