From being uncertainties to heroes

Doubtful starters Zaman, Amir end up scripting Pak victory

From being uncertainties to heroes

Two guys who almost missed the final ended up producing match-winning performances as Pakistan dethroned India in a lop-sided Champions Trophy final on Sunday.

Opener Fakhar Zaman, who scored a brazen 114 to blow India away at the start itself, wasn't feeling well on the eve of the final and thought he would have to sit out. Mohammad Amir, the one who wrecked India’s pursuit of 339 with a sizzling opening spell of 6-2-16-3, returned for the final after missing the last-four clash owing to a back spasm. 

“I was feeling very ill a day before this match,” said a delighted Zaman on Sunday. “When we came yesterday for practice, I wasn’t feeling good. I knocked only five to ten balls and told the coach I don’t want to practice because I wasn’t feeling well. Then I came back to the dressing room and called the physio to tell them I’m not feeling good. I couldn’t walk, but they looked after me very well. When we came back to the hotel I told our physio that I can’t play tomorrow. But he gave me tablets, protein and glucose and asked me to stay calm. When I woke up I was feeling good.”

The unorthodox Zaman, 27, was actually training in the Navy before cricket became his vocation. Upon noticing his talent, Navy team coach Azam Khan advised him to take up the sport seriously. The coach then went the extra mile, persuading his senior officers to let Zaman free so that he can focus on cricket totally.

Zaman then started to make heads turn with his dare-devil approach to batting. When he wasn't picked for the opening game here, there was a lot of hue and cry in the Pakistani media. The management then handed him a debut against South Africa and the left-hander, with two half-centuries and a sizzling century, has now announced himself in a big way.

Unlike Zaman, Amir is a well known name in cricket. From his wsift rise as teenager to being convicted of spot-fixing and then returning to the game after serving out his punishment, the 25-year-old has already led an eventful life. Despite staring at an uncertain future during his ban time, Amir kept working hard, believing he could don the Pakistan colours again. Even when the dream was fulfilled in January 2016, it wasn't easy as some team-mates openly stated they weren’t comfortable sharing the dressing room with a cricketer who had let the country down. Despite all that, Amir has shown a strong character to keep rising against the odds.

“What I do know about Mohammad Amir is that he's a big match player,” opined Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur. “I do know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs, the more amped up he gets, so he doesn't shy away from pressure situations. He doesn't shy away from big games. He's got a proper big-match temperament and he showed that today on the biggest stage.”

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