Pakistan thrashed arch-rivals India by 180 runs to win the ICC Champions Trophy title at the Oval.
Despite suffering an embarrassing 124-run loss to India in their first match, a fortnight ago, Sarfraz Ahmed’s side were a team transformed thanks to some great individual displays.
Man of the match, Fakhar Zaman, who was only brought into the side after the opening defeat – struck a spellbinding 114, his maiden ODI century.
Despite being caught-behind from a no-ball on three and escaping a run-out chance with just a single to his name, he played his part in ensuring Pakistan’s total of 338 for four was too much for India to chase.
Together with Azhar Ali (59), he put on 128 for the first wicket – Pakistan’s highest opening stand against India in an ICC tournament.
When he was finally dismissed, Fakhar left to a standing ovation and handed the baton to Babar, who saw Shoaib Malik hole out off the economical Bhuvneshwar Kumar before he fell victim to Kedar Jadhav.
The momentum remained with Pakistan as Mohammad Hafeez pummelled three sixes and four fours, putting on an unbroken 71 with Imad Wasim (25no) who enjoyed a remarkable slice of luck when a delivery from Bumrah bounced forcefully off his wicket without dislodging a bail.
Given that the highest successful run-chase in an ODI at the Oval was the 322-3 scored by Sri Lanka against India 10 days ago, Kohli’s side needed a strong start to defy history.
Their defence of the title they won in England in 2013 foundered against the team who began the campaign ranked below all other competing nations at eighth, and lived up to that billing in an opening group match in which they lost to their greatest rivals by 124 runs.
Mohammad Amir (3-16), who sat out the semi-final win over England with a back injury, wreaked havoc at the start of the reply.
He quickly dispelled the predictions of many that India could pull off a tournament and ground-record run chase – in the process silencing the majority support in a sell-out crowd for this high-profile showdown as their team folded to 158 all out in 30.3 overs.
Amir’s pace and swing proving too good here for Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan – who could add only 26 runs between them to the 895 they had made over the previous four matches.
He trapped Rohit Sharma LBW with his third ball. He then dismissed Indian captain Virat Kohli for just five as India’s top order collapsed for just 54-5.
Even golden bat winner Shikhar Dhawan couldn’t resist Amir’s persistent accuracy, edging through outside off-stump, and when teenage spinner Shadab Khan successfully convinced Sarfraz Ahmed to review a ‘not out’ LBW decision against Yuvraj Singh, India’s hopes were fading fast at 54-4.
Wickets continued to fall cheaply – MS Dhoni falling into a leg-side trap on the pull and Kedar Jadhav top-edging an attempted pull off Shadab before Pandya struck three sixes in a row off the spinner to post a 32-ball fifty, the fastest in a world ODI final.
Any thought of the unlikeliest of victories was snuffed out when Pandya was run out by the length of the pitch after a mix-up with Jadeja.
By the time the defending champions were bowled out for 158 in 30.3 overs, Hardik Pandya battled in vain, despite top-scoring with a brutal 76 off 43 ball.
However, Pakistan looked anything but the eighth and bottom-ranked team in the competition.
It was a complete pasting, Pakistan played some glorious stuff. 338/4 as opposed to India’s 158/10 (33.3 overs) and Pakistan are the winners of the Champions Trophy 2017.
What a difference two weeks have made, though, Fakhar delivering at every attempt after being brought in for his debut at the age of 27 – he is set to become a global superstar.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur was understandably delighted with his team’s display: “It’s been an up and down ride for us but I’m so proud of the boys. The whole group kept believing, we knew we were better than what we showed in the first game against India.
“That was an aberration. We want to be more consistent as a team. We will work really hard to keep this momentum going.”
Mohamad Hafeez claimed the victory was a redemption of sorts: “It’s a great team effort. After losing the first game, we had no chance to lose again. We showed great character. I’m so happy for the nation of Pakistan who have been waiting for this for a long time.”
India’s skipper, Virat Kohli admitted Pakistan outplayed his side in all three departments in Sunday’s ICC Champions Trophy final.
“I want to congratulate the Pakistan team and their fans, I think they really had an amazing tournament,” said Kohli.
“The way they turned things around for themselves speaks volumes of the talent that they have in their side.
“They proved it again today; they can upset anyone on their day. Disappointing for us as a team to lose the final but I have a smile on my face because I’m very proud of how we played in this tournament.
“Reaching the final, you obviously have to have a good tournament which the boys have pulled off.”
“They had to earn their win, credit to them they outplayed us today in all departments. This is what happens in this sport.
“You can’t take anyone lightly, we never take anyone lightly, we gave it our best shot but they were just more intense and more passionate on the day.”