LONDON: Pakistan’s record-breaking 180-run win over title-holders India in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday completed a remarkable turnaround for Sarfraz Ahmed’s side in the space of just a few weeks.
The lowest-ranked team in the eight-nation one-day international tournament, their group campaign started with a 124-run thrashing by India at Edgbaston on June 4.
But it was wins all the way from then on, culminating in Sunday’s stunning success at The Oval — the scene of Pakistan’s first Test match victory in England in 1954.
A snapshot of Pakistan’s unbelievable transformation:
June 4: Lose to India by 124 runs at Edgbaston
Pakistan are completely outplayed in what coach Mickey Arthur calls a “shambolic” display as India pile up 319 for three before dismissing their old foes for just 164 in a rain-marred match.
June 7: Beat South Africa by 19 runs at Edgbaston
Hasan Ali, with three wickets, leads a brilliant bowling display as bottom-ranked Pakistan hold the top-ranked Proteas to 219.
Fakhar makes a confident 31 on ODI debut and Pakistan are well ahead of where they need to be, at 119 for three off 27 overs, when rain sees them win under the Duckworth/Lewis rule.
June 12: Beat Sri Lanka by three wickets at Cardiff
Junaid Khan and Hasan share six wickets as Sri Lanka are bowled out for 236. But Pakistan collapse to 162 for seven before an unbroken stand of 75 between skipper Sarfraz (61 not out) and Mohammad Amir (28 not out) sees them win what is a virtual quarter-final.
June 14: Beat England by eight wickets at Cardiff
Hasan, in the absence of the injured Amir (back spasm), produces a superb skilled display in taking three wickets as previously unbeaten tournament hosts England are dismissed for 211. Pakistan then prove it’s possible to bat on a used pitch, with Fakhar making his second fifty in as many matches, as they cruise to victory with 77 balls to spare.
June 18: Beat India by 180 runs in the final at Oval
Fakhar, caught off a no-ball on three, makes 114 his maiden ODI century as Pakistan pile up 338 for four after India captain Virat Kohli wins the toss in the final.
The now fit-again Amir removes all of India’s top three as the champions slump to 33 for three in nine overs before being dismissed for just 158. Pakistan’s margin of victory is their biggest by runs in 129 ODIs against India.
India, for all the strength of a top-order featuring skipper Virat Kohli, the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman, had much to do against one of the best bowling attacks in this eight-team tournament.
It was all a far cry from the Asian giants’ opening group match at Edgbaston on June 4 where Pakistan slumped to 164 all out in a thumping 124-run defeat by India.
Kohli opted to field first Sunday after winning the toss on a typically good pitch at a sun-drenched Oval.
India’s star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had a return to forget, his 10 wicketless overs costing 70 runs.
India should have had a wicket when Fakhar was caught behind off Jasprit Bumrah on three.
But the umpires checked for a no-ball and replays showed Bumrah had over-stepped.
Denied the calming influence of an early wicket, India’s bowlers looked nervous.
Bumrah’s first three overs cost 24 runs, including four wides.
Published in Dawn, June 19th, 2017