India were considered strong favourites to defend the ICC Champions Trophy in June, however, ‘underdogs’ Pakistan defied all odds and went on to register a massive 180-run win over arch-rivals to clinch their maiden title. What made Pakistan’s win even more impressive was the fact that they were easily outplayed in the first game between the two sides in the tournament.
Looking after their performance in the group stage matches, the final was a tough ask for Sarfraz Ahmed and his men. Adding to that, Pakistan’s horrendous record against ‘Men in Blue’ in ICC events made India clear favourites for most of the pundits including Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri.
According to Talat Ali, manager of the Pakistan team during Champions Trophy, revealed that former India cricketers Gavaskar and Shastri fired up the youngsters. “India wrote us off in the final,” Talat Ali. “I was listening to the analysis of Gavaskar and Shastri and they gave us no chance. That fired up the boys. It was called a no-contest and we were written off. We said let the bat and ball do the talking,” he told Cricbuzz.
Ali added they had quite a bit of luck in the summit clash. “We had quite a bit of luck. Difficult to figure out why India put us in after winning the toss. With our strong bowling attack, once we put decent total on the board, it was going to be tough for India,” Ali said.
Fakhar Zaman played a well-anchored knock and went on to score 114 runs and was supported by Mohammad Hafeez’s unbeaten knock of 57 runs. An unbeaten 71-run partnership between Hafeez and Imad Wasim took Pakistan’s score to 338/4.
“We had quite a bit of luck as I said. We were lucky in that South Africa game where we had lost early wickets and then it rained. Against Sri Lanka, we were struggling and I have no idea how Thisara Perera dropped that catch. Then in the final, Fakhar was out off a no ball when he was on three.”
In reply, Indian batsmen could not hold on to their resistance and the wickets kept falling at regular intervals. Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir removed India’s top three in quick succession as India’s innings folded for just 158. While India continue to play Pakistan in multi-team events, a bilateral series between the two teams still continues to be an ambition for many.
“I am told that television channels rate India – Pakistan clash as the third biggest in the world. Football obviously takes the top spot. The coverage of that game in Pakistan was tremendous and I am sure that was the same case in India. I hope we play regularly so that the tension goes off. The more cricket we play, the better it will be. I hope the bilateral series resumes soon,” Ali concluded.