In a tournament featuring the world’s top-eight ODI sides, Pakistan were the lowest ranked of all the teams taking part in the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy. They had also slipped to the ninth spot in the ICC ODI rankings after a shocking loss to Zimbabwe, just four days after the cut-off date to qualify for the ICC mega event.
For all the fans, cricket pundits and even the so-called astrologers, there was no way Pakistan was going to pose a threat to anyone, let alone win the coveted title. And, after their first game against a team they cannot lose to, Pakistan were dead and buried. The only being which airline they would use to book their flight back home. There was no way Sarfraz Ahmed-led side was going to march ahead in the tournament.
But, then came the resurrection from the dead, the kind even the Gods would be proud of, to not just reach the final, but to annihilate an opponent they had developed a habit of losing to in the ICC events. A comeback, a bolt from the blue that carried on for four matches and propelled Pakistan all the way to their maiden Champions Trophy title.
Riding on the back of three commendable wins, Pakistan was expected to run out of steam against a much-superior and more-proven Indian side in the summit clash. They were up against a team that had impressed everyone with their formidable batting line-up and the one that looked the most complete side in the tournament.
But, high on self-belief and with much-needed momentum on their side, a spirited Pakistani brigade did what no one could have possibly imagined – wreak havoc on Virat Kohli’s men. Following a brilliant hundred by Fakhar Zaman and a magical spell by Mohammad Amir, Pakistan notched up the Champions Trophy title on the back of a sweet 180-run win over arch-rivals India.
So, how did they do it? How does a lowly-ranked team get past the cricket bigwigs one after another and then shock the best team in the tournament to claim top honours? While a collective team effort and some brilliant individual performances surely aided Pakistan, it appears that cricketer-turned-commentator Sunil Gavaskar and India’s current coach Ravi Shastri had a pivotal role in their successful Champions Trophy campaign.
Several former cricketers, including legendary batsman Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri had tagged India favorites to ease past Pakistan in the final. According to Talat Ali, the manager of the Pakistan team during the Champions Trophy, remarks of Shastri and Gavaskar fired up the team.
“India wrote us off in the final. I was listening to the analysis of Sunil Gavaskar and Ravi Shastri and they gave us no chance. That fired up the boys. It was called a no-contest and we were written off. We said let the bat and ball do the talking,” Ali revealed.
For a team that can’t play international cricket at home due to security issues, the Champions Trophy victory undeniably has a far-reaching implication.
If Zaman announced his arrival in international cricket with a match-defining knock, Pakistan cricket’s ‘enfant terrible’ Amir finally managed to sing a redemption song that he has been longing for.
Photo : © Reuters (Main Image)
Source of news : Mensxp