Former Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said that the team’s win against India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 will be one that “Pakistan fans will remember for long.” “It has been an ultra-quick turnaround from no-hopers to champions for the Pakistan players and the manner in which the team won the match was really impressive,” said Afridi in a column for ICC.
Afridi said that the current team can develop into one of the top three teams in the world by the 2019 World Cup. “Rarely have I seen Pakistan deliver such a clinical performance in a tournament decider and annihilating hot favourite India came as a pleasant surprise,” he said, “Pakistan, meanwhile, has a team that can develop into one of the top three teams by the time the 2019 World Cup is played in England. This squad is built around exciting young talent and has an astute and passionate leader in Sarfraz.”
Pakistan had started the tournament with a crushing 124-run defeat to India. They then included Fakhar Zaman and Hassan Ali in the first team and went on to defeat South Africa and Sri Lanka to secure a place in the semi-finals. Pakistan then blew away hosts and favourites England in the semis, winning the match by eight wickets. Fakhar Zaman’s innings and Hassan Ali’s spell with the ball played crucial roles in the win. Fakhar then scored a century in the final and Ali then continued the start given by Mohammad Amir while defending a total of 339.
“Pakistan has unearthed new heroes in a span of 14 days,” said Afridi, “From Fakhar Zaman to Hassan Ali and Shadab Khan, Pakistan has shown the world its rich talent and pedigree. In Sarfraz, it now has a captain who can perhaps take the team to unprecedented glory in the years ahead.”
Afridi also pointed out Pakistan had just about made it into the qualification spots for the Champions Trophy. They entered the tournament as the lowest ranked team. “Remember, this is the same team that barely qualified for the tournament,” said Afridi, “started as the lowest-ranked team in the fray, and was handed a 124-run drubbing in the opening match by India,”