LONDON: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said Monday he hoped his side’s stunning 180-run Champions Trophy final win over archrivals India would be a catalyst for the full return of international cricket to his homeland. Bottom-ranked Pakistan produced a breathtaking display at London’s Oval on Sunday in the climax of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international nations. They piled up 338 for four, with Fakhar Zaman making a dashing 114 - the left-handed opener’s maiden hundred in just his fourth match at this level since a debut in Pakistan’s group-stage win over South Africa. Mohammad Amir then reduced India to 33 for three by dismissing all the members of the title-holders’ top three, with Rohit Sharma out for a duck and opposing skipper Virat Kohli, the world’s leading ODI batsman, falling for just five. There was no way back for India, who collapsed to 158 all out with nearly 20 overs of the match as they suffered their heaviest defeat by runs in 129 ODIs against Pakistan.
With the exception of Zimbabwe’s tour two years ago, Pakistan have had to play all of their ‘home’ matches outside their own country since a 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore. “I hope this win will boost Pakistan cricket and hopefully all the (major) playing nations will come to Pakistan,” Sarfraz told reporters. “I think great things went for me and my team and my country,” Sarfraz told reporters after a win made all the more astounding by the fact Pakistan had suffered a 124-run defeat by India in their tournament opener at Edgbaston on June 4. “Hopefully this win, everyone will remember, not just for today, not just for tomorrow, but for a very long, long time,” added the wicket-keeper/batsman.
Sarfraz paid tribute to the influence of a coaching staff led by Mickey Arthur, who took charge shortly before Pakistan’s tour of England last year, where a Test series was shared but the ODI campaign lost 4-1. “They motivated us,” explained Sarraz, also Pakistan’s captain when they beat India in the 2006 Under-19 World Cup final in Colombo.
Published in Daily Times, June 20th, 2017