Well, That Was Unexpected...
It was a beautiful Sunday morning and it was a full house at the Oval cricket stadium. Arch rivals India and Pakistan were set to play one of the most awaited finals in the recent cricket history. News channels in India were using all sorts of metaphors to ridicule Pakistani team and how India would beat them convincingly on the ‘Father’s day’. Cricket nationalism was reaching its peak and anchors were almost celebrating an Indian victory even before the match had started.
Well, India won the toss and the Indian captain Virat Kohli invited Pakistan to bat on a belter of a wicket. It was almost like the Hyderabadis say “Pehle Aap”. Pakistan started cautiously with Indian pacers trying to move the ball in first few movers. Indian pacer Jasprit Bumrah almost had Fakhar Zaman sent back to the pavilion at a cheap score, except that was a NO-BALL. Both Bumrah and India had to pay a big price due to this mistake. The young Fakhar Zaman went on to make his maiden ODI century before getting out. That must have been a dream come true for him to score a century against India that too in the finals of an ICC tournament.
Pakistan’s run rate throughout their innings remained about 6 runs an over and the reason behind that was the solid first wicket partnership between Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman. They contributed 128 runs for the first wicket. Whatever bowling changes Captain Kohli went in vain as India’s both spinners Ashwin and Jadeja went for 70 and 67 runs respectively in their 10 overs. Both went wicketless. It was after a long time that Indian bowling attacked seemed quite weak to stop the flow of runs and take wickets.
Cricket pundits were criticizing Virat Kohli, not to bring in Kedar Jadhav and use Yuvraj Singh in the middle overs when India’s frontline bowlers were just being hit out of the park for fours and sixes consistently. Kedar Jadhav was the trump card used by Captain Kohli in the semifinal against Bangladesh where he derailed a strong Bangladeshi batting line up when they were in a commanding position. By the time, Jadhav was brought to the attack, it was just too late, a lot of runs had already been leaked and Jadhav too proved ineffective.
At the end of the innings, Jadhav had the most expensive bowling figures with 27 runs in 3 overs. Pakistan piled up 338 runs at the board after 50 overs, which is the highest in this Champions Trophy. Well, all was not lost yet or fans and media believed it so. Old statistics were pulled out to show how India has chased many totals over 350 in the recent past. Secondly, it was argued that the pitch was a batting paradise with no assistance to the bowlers. Considering, India has one the best batting line ups, the fans should fasten their seat belts for a cracker of a match.
All hopes shattered in the first over itself when Indian opener Rohit Sharma went out for a golden duck in the first over itself when the Indian team was yet to open its account. It was 0/1, when captain Kohli entered the crease, now the responsibility lied on him to produce a match winning innings, which he has done many times for India in the past.
Sadly, it was not his day. After being dropped in the slips, he got out on the very next ball. Soon, it was the turn of Shikhar Dhawan, the highest run getter of the tournament to go back to the pavilion. The top 3 of Indian batting line up was finished by the fiery Mohammed Aamir. Indian batting was falling like a ‘pack of cards’. At this juncture, entered, Hardik Pandya, the young Indian all-rounder who had an average day with the ball.
But Pandya was having different thoughts in his mind. Regardless of the situation Indian team was in, he decide to explode like the way he does. Suddenly, ‘fours’ and ‘sixers’ started flowing, which gave the Indians fans something to smile about. His cameo ended after he made 76 runs in just 43 balls, which included 4 fours and 6 sixes. When he was batting, some fans even started believing the unbelievable that Pandya’s heroics can bring India back in the match. Pandya was run-out rather unfortunately and thus went away all the hopes of India saving the match.
Sooner than expected, Indian team was bundled out at 158 runs on the board. Pakistan won by a whopping 180 runs margin, making it one of their biggest victories against India. Pakistani fans and the players were in absolute delight. Before the tournament started, nobody was giving Pakistan a chance of even entering the final four of the tournament and yet they managed to pull a rabbit out of their hats by winning the trophy.
For his match winning knock, Fakhar Zaman was adjudged Man of the Match. Shikhar Dhawan and Hasan Ali were presented the ‘Golden Bat’ and ‘Golden Ball’ respectively for their fabulous run in the tournament. Dhawan made a good 338 runs while Hasan Ali bagged 13 wickets in the in the tournament. At the end Virat Kohli said “Disappointing to lose but I have a smile on my face because I am very proud of the boys. To be in the final, you need to have a good tournament, which the boys pulled off. Credit to Pakistan; they outplayed us”.
To sum up, this was a completely one sided affair, it was out of the blue. Pakistan’s victory is being compared to their world cup win way back in 1992. Their victory has come at a time when Pakistan cricket is in a dire state, hopefully cricket will soon resume in Pakistan. On the other hand, it’s time for the Indian team to sit back and introspect what went wrong…..