With the sun shining brightly and the typical English breeze blowing around the city, the stage was set perfectly for an epic battle between the archrivals in the Kennington Oval in London. With every passing minute, the nerves were being tested for their strength to sustain the excitement. People rushing into the ground, settling in their places, waving the flags, chanting the team names; amidst all these walks the two captains, Virat Kohli of India and Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan. The toss was on and India wins it. The roar from the crowd just makes the occasion even more special.
Oval has witnessed many finals but this one, which stands out. Note the name “Champions Trophy 2017”, not just because it is an IND-PAK final but for the fact that a team ranked eight made it to the finals clearing all the odds. Did I just say clearing? Hell no, trashing all the odds would be more suitable. With the Championship title on the cards, Pakistan has nothing to lose while on the other hand, the defending champions are under pressure as it is their title, which is at stake.
With Amir, back into the playing eleven, Pakistan team looks formidable to face the invincible team India. India has not taken any team lightly; it will be the favorite getting into the finals. With all this discussion going on the players walk out to the middle to give us the goose bumps moment. Yes, it is time for the National Anthem. As we are done, here we go with the first ball of an epic battle between India and Pakistan.
Boom, after three and half hours of an innings the impetus Indian bowling that has improved leaps and bounds in the past year has been taken to the cleaners by the Pakistani batsmen. Scoring an insurmountable 338 runs in 50 overs against dominant Indian attack speaks volumes about their character. Consolidating all the things in the first innings; youngster Fhaakar Zaaman’s maiden century and the old warhorse Hafeez’s final push just made the day for Pakistan.
Chasing down big scores is of no-sweat to India. However, can they do it on this big occasion? Critics take their own sides, fans of either team pray as if this would be their last day on this holy planet, the sun seems to have hardened the surface little more making it easier for the batsman to bat on. Amongst everything going on in the middle; do you guys remember the encounter between India and Pakistan in Asia Cup 2016, in which the guy Mohammed Amir who broke the spinal cord (top order) of Indian batting, will we witness such a performance again today?
The chase is about to begin. Brace yourselves.
Amir with the new ball, Rohit Sharma on strike and the king of Champions Trophy, prolific run-scorer Shikar Dhawan at the non-striker’s end; we are ready to witness a gem of a run chase. Boom, 30 overs later India is all out for a mediocre 158; dreams of millions have been shattered while the prayers of the other millions paid off.
Yes, India has been bowled out. To explain what has happened in this innings, it is all that the Pakistani fans prayed for. The same guy, the left handed seamer Mohammed Amir cleaned up the top order of India in just one spell (Sure he is going to remember it for rest of his life), with India losing 5 wickets for just 54 runs. Hardik Pandya was batting as if he was playing on a different surface. As it is said, “When it’s your day; you would be blessed no matter what” the same has happened with Pakistan to exacerbate India’s position with Hardik being run out for 76 in just 43 balls.
A world of good has happened to Pakistan, with no cricket in the nation for past 10 years, and cricket being the only sport that brings the nation together; they are now the champions of the champions. From being the underdogs of the tournament to reaching the Zenith of the sport is just remarkable.
Cricket is being regarded as a gentlemen’s sport, and Pakistanis were the true gentlemen of this tournament.