The big day was here. After competing for 18 days, India and Pakistan had made it to the Final of Champions Trophy 2017. The sun was basking in London and the pitch looked like an absolute belter. Virat Kohli won the crucial toss and elected to bowl first. India made no changes in the team, while Mohammad Amir came back for Pakistan.
Considering the big stage, Pakistan batsmen were cautious with their starts. Bhuvneshwar Kumar started the proceedings with a maiden over. There was a hint of swing for the fast bowlers but nothing off the surface. The ball was coming nicely to the bat. India had struck in the 4th over only to find out that Jasprit Bumrah had overstepped. Fakhar Zaman, was the lucky batsman. After settling in, Pakistan openers started playing their shots. Slowly, but surely, Pakistan were increasing the run rate. At the end of 8 overs, they were 48/0.
These two were going strong thereafter as fours came regularly. Indian bowlers tried their variation but to no avail. The Pakistan opening pair were maintaining the run rate of 5-6 RPO. At the end of 15 overs, they were 86/0 with both batsmen looking well-set. The spin duo of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja could not do any difference today. Azhar Ali was the first one to reach to his individual fifty as Fakhar completed it in the same over, 20th. India needed to break the 100-run partnership to get some control in the game.
India finally got the breakthrough, thanks to some indecision by the pair while running. Ali after guiding the ball to the leg side, set off for a single, but Fakhar was not ready which resulted in a run-out. Ali made 59 before departing. India needed a couple of more wickets to get into the game. Babar Azam was the next to arrive as Fakhar continued with his big shots. He was playing with a strike rate in the range of 80-90. Babar meanwhile got settled at the other end.
Fakhar scored his maiden ODI century and made India pay for the no-ball. The southpaw brought up his century with a four as The Oval gave him a standing ovation. Pakistan at the end of 32 overs, were 191/1. Fakhar (114) finally was dismissed as he mistimed one and Jadeja took a great catch running backwards. Shoaib Malik was promoted to up the ante more. But he could not do more as he was dismissed for 12 off 16 balls. Mohammad Hafeez joined Azam. The latter was striking the ball beautifully and looked good to score a 50 but was dismissed for 46. Part-timer, Kedar Jadhav got the surprise wicket.
In the last overs, Hafeez and Imad Wasim took the mantle of scoring runs at a quick pace. There was no movement for the Indian pacers as Bumrah, Hardik, Ashwin and Jadeja struggled. When four of your bowlers are going with a RPO of more than 6, you’ve trouble. Plus the no-balls were not helping. The two Pakistan batsmen expressed themselves. They brought up their 50-run partnership in just 31 balls. Hafeez completed his fifty in 33 balls as Pakistan passed 300. In the end, they managed to score 338/4 in 50 overs. Fakhar was the top-scorer for them with 114 while Bhuvneshwar, Hardik and Kedar took 1 wicket each.
India’s chase did not get off to the perfect start as Rohit Sharma was dismissed on the third ball. Mohammad Amir’s inswinger wrapped on Rohit’s pads as the umpire raised his finger. Rohit did the sensible thing of not using the Review. Virat Kohli was the new man and Pakistan were chirping and bowling aggressively. Both Amir and Junaid Khan were on line as they did not give any freebies to the Indian batsmen.
Kohli got a lifeline off Amir’s bowling but could not capitalise as he got out on the next ball. Ali, who dropped him in the first slip, was a relieved man. Kohli made 5 runs and India were suddenly under pressure. Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh then weathered the storm, though not quite convincingly. Dhawan finally broke the shackles as he struck Amir for two fours in the 5th over. He was looking more confident of the two as Yuvraj took his time to get settled.
As things were looking safe for India, Amir took another as Dhawan edged one to the keeper. He made 21 off 22 balls as India were 33/3 after 9 overs. The most experienced batsmen were now at the crease for India. Yuvraj and MS Dhoni had played many great knocks and their team needed them to stay at the crease. But that was not going to happen as Yuvraj and Dhoni departed in the span of four balls. Yuvraj, was LBWed by Shadab Khan who convinced Pakistan captain, Sarfaraz into a successful review and Dhoni was caught in the deep off Hasan Ali. India were struggling big time at 54/5.
The lower middle-order then had a huge task in front of them. After looking good in his short stay, Kedar Jadhav skied one off Shadab. Hardik Pandya was in a different mood as in tonked the ball out of the park several times. He hit Shadab for three consecutive sixes as 23 runs came of that over. He completed his fifty off just 34 balls. A partnership was building and giving Indian fans a glimmer of hope. But a run-out broke the partnership, and with it India’s chances as well. Pandya made 76 runs off just 43 balls hitting 6 sixes in his entertaining knock.
Things wrapped up quickly after that as Jadeja (15), Ashwin (1) and Bumrah (1) were dismissed cheaply. India were all out for 158 as Pakistan won the Champions Trophy 2017 by 180 runs. Fakhar Zaman was awarded as the Man of the Match for his brilliant innings at the top. Shikhar Dhawan got the ‘Batsman of the Series’ award (Golden Bat) for scoring 338 runs as Hasan Ali was rewarded with ‘Bowler of the Series’ and ‘Player of the Series’ (Golden Ball) for being the leading wicket-taker, 13 wickets in 5 matches.