Dominant Pak spoil India's party

Amir shines with the ball after Zaman's belligerent ton as Sarfraz's men clinch

An unknown Fakhar Zaman scored a fortuitous yet exhilarating century and Mohammad Amir produced a fantastic spell of fast bowling as underdogs Pakistan dethroned India in brutal fashion here on Sunday.

Caught off a no-ball while on 3, the 27-year-old Zaman, playing in just his fourth ODI, rode his luck and then hammered a brazen 114 (106b, 12x4, 3x6) to power Pakistan to a huge 338/4 in the final of the Champions Trophy at the sold-out Oval.

Amir then brought the in-form Indian top-order to its knees, knocking out Rohit Sharma (0), Virat Kohli (5) and Shikhar Dhawan (21) in a sizzling spell of 6-2-16-3. It then depended on the seasoned duo of Yuvraj Singh and M S Dhoni to stage an improbable resurrection but the moment they departed in a space of five balls, Pakistan had their names inscribed on the trophy for the first time.
Zaman first laid the platform for Pakistan’s mind-numbing 180-run victory with a carefree innings to knock the stuffing out of the Indians. Tentative at the start, Zaman should have been back in the dressing room in the first ball of the fourth over when he edged Jasprit Bumrah to Dhoni. However, he was allowed to resume his stay at the crease after Bumrah was found to have over-stepped.

Zaman and his opening partner Azhar Ali (59, 71b, 6x4, 1x6) then assumed different roles to catch the Indians cold. Choosing to fight fire with fire, both Azhar and Zaman went berserk as runs came in a torrent.

They gambled upon playing high-risk cricket as the balls either kept flying to the boundaries or edges landed in no-man’s land. Their attempts to steal quick singles also bore success as the Indians kept missing the stumps. Their audacity frustrated the Indians, who started mis-fielding and churning out numerous wides to lose control of the game.

With fortune completely on their side, Azhar and Zaman kept chancing their arms and brought up their half-centuries in quick succession to put Pakistan in a commanding position. Chasing shadows in the warm London sunshine, Indians finally got a breather when a moment of misunderstanding saw Azhar (59, 71b, 6x4, 1x6) getting run-out.

Responsible largely for the dismissal, Zaman then turned on the power even more devastatingly to quell any hopes of an Indian comeback. Using his feet brilliantly to spinners Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, the left-hander hammered both of them in successive overs — 26th and 27th yielding 33 runs — to maintain Pakistan’s dominance.

Showing no restraint whatsoever, Zaman just kept going for broke and with the pitch being placid, all his shots soared to the boundaries. The former Navy trainee’s cavalier batting completely rattled Ashwin (0/70 in 10 overs) and Jadeja (0/67 in 8 overs) who just couldn't get a grip of things. When they tried to bowl full, Zaman just slog-swept them and when they attempted to keep it a bit short, the Pakistani danced down the track and punished them. It was carefree batting for most part but the tactic paid off.

Amir, one of the exciting bowlers in world cricket, then unleashed more pain on the Indians. He removed Rohit with a classic left-armer delivery, the ball swinging back in at furious pace and hitting him flush on the pads. Amir then saw Azhar Ali drop Kohli at slip but went back to his run-up pumped up. He bowled the next one slightly short of length and Kohli, trying to move across and flick like he normally does, edged the ball to Shadab Khan at point. With one of the best chasers in the game gone, it was all over for the Indians.

Hardik Pandya then infused artificial excitement with a counter-attacking 43-ball 76 but it wasn't going to be enough.


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