Pakistan have achieved what was not even imagined by anyone in their wildest dreams: to become Champions Trophy Winners. After a very dominating performance over defending champions India, we look at the talking points:
Pakistan stepped into this match confidently
When these teams met in the group stages exactly two weeks ago, Pakistan looked completely flat. Fast forward to the final, and they came out very positively with convincing performances since that defeat to India. There was urgency, every ball was looked to be scored from, risks were calculated and chances were grabbed. India were under pressure as soon as Fakhar Zaman decided to cut loose. Azhar Ali was more than ready to take the aggressive route to allow an initially struggling Zaman to settle. The middle order too was up for the challenge, looked busy at the crease and made enough pressure to never let the Indians catch a breath.
Fakhar Zaman should be the start of an aggressive Pakistan
When Ahmed Shehzad was dropped after the defeat to India, Fakhar Zaman was asked to open in a crunch game against South Africa. Shehzad’s record in international cricket is not poor at all but he and a few of the elder statesmen have been accused of being too slow for the modern game. Zaman, in his brief stay of 31 against South Africa, showed what Pakistan need in the future – attacking instincts from the word go. In the two games after his debut, he made attacking half centuries in both of them and Pakistan saw themselves chasing successfully in both games. In the final, though filled with chances, Zaman took his game up a notch. Attack looked easy with this man. If Pakistan are to build on this success, Fakhar Zaman needs to be the template to follow from for Pakistan.
Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja were disappointing, to say the least
India’s ‘Spin Twins’, who tormented every visiting team in their grand home Test season, were expected to be a major force in the final. Pakistan though completely destroyed the spin attack. They first milked Ashwin for a couple of overs and then decided to chance their arm against him. That spoiled Ashwin’s line and length and by the time Jadeja came on, the damage was done. Their combined figures were 18-0-137-0 and conceded 12 fours and five sixes. With the spin partnership decimated, debate will start again, are Ashwin and Jadeja effective in limited-overs cricket?
Pakistan were electric with the ball
Pakistan, right from ball one, were onto the Indians like a pack of wolves. They had a plan for every batsman and the setup was executed brilliantly. Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh were all victims of some brilliantly executed Pakistani plans. The bowlers never let India get away and were on the charge right from ball one. Mohammad Amir displayed some superb fast bowling on a flat deck as he first set up Rohit, then Kohli and then Dhawan, something India did not do. India’s top and middle order were shot out at 72/6, Pakistan made India bleed and they were in no mood for mercy.
Hardik Pandya could be India’s Ben Stokes
There were constant debates as to whether Hardik Pandya could contribute with both bat and ball in the same game. This match, we did see a very good performance from him, his team’s only positive along with Bhuvneshwar Kumar. In his 10 overs, he conceded 53, which in the context, was a good performance. His batting performance though won all hearts. Pandya got 76 off 43 balls and lit up a small spark of a miraculous Indian recovery. The way he hit the ball under pressure was commendable and four fours and six sixes were proof of that. This performance makes you wonder as to whether he could play a role as to what Ben Stokes, arguably the best all-rounder in world cricket right now, plays for England: Ten overs consistently and runs in the middle. This is something India have longed for a huge amount of time.