Champions!

* Amir removes all of India’s top three as Pakistan rout archrivals by 180 runs in an astonishing Champions Trophy final at The Oval

Champions!


LONDON: Pakistan rewrote history books when they defeated archrivals India by a huge margin of 180 runs to clinch the ICC Champions Trophy for first time before a full house at the Oval here on Sunday. Chasing a gigantic target of 339, Virat Kohli-led India crumbled like a house of cards and were all out for 158 in the 31st over. It was all a far cry from the Asian giants' opening group match at Edgbaston on June 4 where Pakistan slumped to 164 all out in a thumping 124-run defeat by India. No one was expecting that Pakistan would even qualify for the semi-final of the top eight-nation tournament, also termed as 'Mini World Cup'. Sarfraz Ahmad and his charges not only kept their unpredictability tag intact but also proved all pundits and critics wrong. India needed to harness the full power of their batting machinery to eclipse Pakistan's mammoth score. But they failed in their quest.

Fast bowler Mohammad Amir gave Pakistan an edge when he removed all of India's top three. Title-holder India collapsed to 33 for three and 54 for five against a Pakistan side they had thrashed in their tournament opener. He dismissed Rohit Sharma (nought), India captain Virat Kohli (five) and Shikhar Dhawan (21) in a stunning new-ball spell. Amir finished with three for 16 in six overs and Hasan Ali, who kick-started Pakistan's revival in their group-win over top-ranked South Africa, ended the match when he had Jasprit Bumrah caught by gleeful captain and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed. Left-arm pacer Amir's career was almost ended on the other side of London's River Thames by a ban and jail term he received for his part in a spot-fixing scam during a 2010 Test against England at Lord's.

Earlier, opener Fakhar Zaman capitalised on a lucky escape to strike a superb 114 and lift Pakistan to a commanding total of 338 for the loss of four scalps. India will feel aggrieved for a long time as Fakhar, when he was on the individual score of 3, was caught by wicketkeeper Mahehdra Singh Dhoni off a Jasprit Bumrah no-ball and the 27-year-old left-hander took full advantage to reach his first international century. Fakhar shared a fluent century opening partnership with Azhar Ali (59) and unleashed a barrage of attacking strokes all around the ground. Azhar also continued his fine form in the tournament, reaching his fifty off 61 balls before he was run out following a mix-up with his partner. Fakhar hit 12 fours and three sixes in his scintillating knock and provided a perfect platform to his team to make the highest total in a Champions Trophy final.

Babar Azam also chipped in with a solid 46 and Mohammad Hafeez, often criticised for slow-scoring, struck three sixes in a punchy unbeaten 57 that left India high and dry. Fakhar shared a first-wicket stand of 128 with Azhar and then put on 72 with Babar for the second. Veteran Hafeez's quickfire together with fellow all-rounder Imad Wasim (25 not out) he shared an unbroken stand of 71 for the fifth wicket. India paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar, with an economical one for 44 in 10 overs, helped atone for some wayward bowling by his team-mates in an innings featuring 13 wides and three no-balls - nearly three extra overs. No Indian bowler was able to penetrate the Pakistan batting line-up.