Pakistan produced a story for the ages as they defied all pre-tournament predictions and thrashed their much-fancied rivals, India, to win the Champions Trophy. With victory by 180 runs in the final, Sarfraz Ahmed lifted their first 50-over trophy since the 1992 World Cup.
Ranked No8 in the world at the start of the tournament, Pakistan endured a harrowing defeat against the same opposition at Edgbaston a fortnight ago, and few could have envisaged they would be celebrating on the podium at the end of their reunion in the final, having posted 338 for four after losing the toss then bowling out Virat Kohli’s side for 158 in 30.3 overs.
Fakhar Zaman, the little-known left‑hander who made his debut in their second game, lit up a showpiece match with 114 from 106 balls. That flying start and some late hitting by Mohammad Hafeez (57 not out) set the stage for Mohammad Amir to begin the evisceration of India’s batting with a spell of three for 16 in six overs that included Kohli.
“Hopefully this win, everyone will remember – not today, not tomorrow, but for a very long, long time,” said Sarfraz, the wicketkeeper who held the final catch that sparked wild celebrations. “Now we are the champions, so hopefully this win will boost Pakistan cricket and hopefully all playing nations is coming to Pakistan.”
Sarfraz was right to highlight one of the hurdles his side have overcome in recent times, with the country starved of international cricket since the terrorist attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in 2009 at Lahore that has left them playing almost exclusively on neutral grounds. Their head coach, Mickey Arthur, hoped this performance would lift the country.
Arthur said: “I’m sure that the nation of Pakistan is really happy tonight – they deserve it. You talk about our players not playing at home but also the fans not identifying with heroes because they just don’t see international cricket. That’s massive. So let’s hope that this really kick-starts that momentum in Pakistan again.”
Hasan Ali picked up the award for man of the tournament with his 13 wickets, including three in India’s collapse, and the victory was cathartic for Amir in particular after he spent five years banned from the sport for his role in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal at Lord’s. Arthur, had few doubts the left-armer would deliver on his abundant talent, even if he had missed the semi-final win against England with a back injury.
“It says a lot about his personality,” Arthur said. “We’ve been through [his past] before but what I do know is that Amir is a big-match player. I know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs, the more amped up he gets – he doesn’t shy away from pressure situations. He doesn’t shy away from big games. He’s got proper big-match temperament, and he showed that today on the biggest stage.”
Kohli, whose dismissal by Amir caught at point was the moment Pakistan looked locked in for the win, admitted his side had no answer to the onslaught – one that started to unravel soon after his decision to field first when Fakhar was reprieved on three, caught off a Jasprit Bumrah no-ball, and then started flaying the Indian attack to all parts of SE11.
Kohli said: “I congratulated them in the post-match presentation and I would do the same here because they deserved to win. You have to accept and admire the skill of the opposition. We tried our level best but we just couldn’t make things happen. Personally, yes, it does feel bad.
“We can be very proud of that as a unit, we leave here with our heads held high because we understand the kind of expectations and pressures we face as a team. Credit to everyone for standing up and showing that resilience and reaching the final but today we were outplayed in all departments.”