It’s astonishing when a bottom most placed team, with so much going against them, emerge out triumphant by defeating a team of caliber like India. Losing against India by a margin of 124 in their first game and fighting against so much negativity surrounding them to finish as the winning side by defeating India by a whopping 180 runs glorifies the character of this team. And it couldn’t get any better than this for Pakistan.
Dropped catches help Pakistan post a mammoth score
Having been asked to bat first by Virat, the openers looked unsettled. Just when they needed something to get going, Bumrah’s nine ball over came in at the right time. Fakhar nicked one to the keeper, only to be called as no-ball. Luck played its part and he carried from there on. Azhar too rode on the shift in momentum and Pakistan’s innings took off. Azhar Ali took on Ashwin straightaway and the score board was moving at a healthy run rate. After their first century stand of the tournament in the semi final , they reached their second on an even bigger occasion.
The Indian bowlers were searching for a breakthrough, and the batsmen gifted them one as Azhar Ali was run out after a mix up. A strong base was set for the middle order to launch. Fakhar further shifted the gear and hammered Jadeja and Ashwin in back to back overs. He then swept Ashwin for his maiden ODI hundred in his maiden ODI tournament. He perished in an attempt to hit Pandya on the leg side and top edged and was smartly taken by Jadeja at point. Babar Azam and Malik played their parts and when Pakistan needed someone to accelerate the score and finish well at the latter stage of the innings, Hafeez stepped up. His cameo of 37-ball 57 took them to an above par 338.
A top order collapse that India never recovered from
The top three for India had to be at their best one more time as a humongous task was ahead. But they were up against Amir who was back in the team after a respite. He swung one into Rohit and it thudded in his pads, an easy one for the umpire and Rohit was on his way. India too was searching for luck to survive this Amir spell. They had, when Azhar Ali dropped a chance at first slip and Virat Kohli survived. Amir was fuming. You have to be special if you can bowl two consecutive wicket taking deliveries to Virat Kohli. Amir was, as Virat tried to flick the next ball and edged it straight to Point. India was two down for 6. Dhawan looked set and got the start, but Amir struck again as he was out caught behind. The game was nearly over by the end of Amir’s spell.
Yuvraj was joined by Dhoni in the middle and he found the fence thrice in Hafeez’ over and gave a glimpse of hope. A stubborn Shadab Khan convinced his skipper to pursue with a review against Yuvraj for lbw and it paid off as it clearly showed that the ball was hitting the stumps. Dhoni was caught off Hasan Ali in the next over and any hope of an India comeback was hanging at 54/5. After Jadhav departed, Hardik Pandya swatted an array of six of the spinners. He was severe against Shadab as he scored 22 in one of his overs and reached his fifty off just 32 deliveries. A terrible mix up with Jadeja saw Pandya well short of the crease and brought the curtains down for the Indian innings with the rest collapsing without adding too many.
Pakistan showed the world that anyone can write them off at their own peril. This is Sarfaraz Ahmed’s second title for his country as captain, with the first being the Under-19 World Cup and both coming against the same opponent. Hasan Ali ended his purple patch with yet another three-fer and was handed over the Man of the Tournament.
Pakistan: 338 for 4 (Zaman 114, Azhar 59, Hafeez 57*)
India: 158 (Pandya 76, Amir 3-16, Hasan 3-19)