The hopes of more than a billion Indians seemed to have come a cropper on Sunday when their national team was handed a humiliating defeat
by arch-rivals Pakistan
in the final match of Champions Trophy, 2017. Played at the Oval in London, the match saw India
crumbling in their chase of 339 runs and getting bundled out for a lowly 158.
Worse, the debacle for India
– their biggest margin of defeat
in an ICC tournament yet – came in their first clash with Pakistan
in a summit match since 2007. Before this, India’s 125-run loss
to Australia in the 2003 World Cup final, at Johannesburg’s New Wanderers Stadium in South Africa, had been their most crushing defeat.
While it was embarrassing for India, the emotions on Pakistan
side were those of jubilation that comes with unexpected triumph. At the 8th spot in ODI rankings, Pakistan
were the lowest-ranked team at the beginning of Champions Trophy
2017. But the way they downed the favourites like South Africa, Sri Lanka and England, and finally India, will be remembered by cricket enthusiasts for a very long time.
Among the most spectacular takeaways from Sunday’s game were the phenomenal opening spell by left-arm Pakistan
pacer Mohammad Amir
and the brilliant maiden century by Fakhar Zaman, besides sublime field performance by Sarfraz Ahmed’s boys.
Here are five turning points in the match that took the game away from India:
1. The toss:
Banking on India’s recent record of successfully chasing down big targets, India
skipper Virat Kohli
opted to put Pakistan
in to bat first. This, it turns out, would have been a good toss to lose for India, as Pakistan
captain Sarfaraz Ahmed
also said he, too, would have elected to field if he had won the toss.
“We wanted to bowl first. But the toss is out of our control. Hopefully, we can post more than 300,” he said.
2. Jasprit Bumrah’s no-ball: Pakistan
opener Fakhar Zaman
had been caught behind the stumps by wicket-keeper M S Dhoni for three, but it appeared in replays that Bumrah
had overstepped the crease to deliver a no-ball, even as Fakhar had already begun his walk back to the pavilion, his bat tucked under his arm.
Zaman went on to score big and provide the much-needed thrust for Pakistan
to score big; the Bumrah
delivery turned out to be an 'expensive no ball'.
3. Mohammad Amir’s sharp bowling: Pakistan's pace bowler Mohammad Amir, who returned to the team after missing the semi-final versus England due to a back injury, proved instrumental in breaking the backbone of India’s chase. Once vilified for his alleged role in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal, which even led to him to prison in London, was at his best in his spell.
He removed three of India's top batsmen — Rohit Sharma (0), Shikhar Dhawan (21) and Kohli (5).
4. Virat Kohli’s failure to click:
Indian captain Kohli had come into the match with an astonishing batting average, having scored 253 runs in this year's Champions Trophy
and being dismissed only once in four matches before Sunday.
When he was dropped by Azhar Ali in the slip cordon off Mohammad Amir
in the third over, there were huge cheers in the arena. But the skipper failed to capitalise on the dropped catch as Pakistan
made sure it did not prove too expensive an error. Amir dismissed him on the very next ball.
5. Hardik Pandya’s run out:
When lower middle-order batsman Hardik Pandya
came to the crease, India
were tottering at a meagre 54 and half the team had already been sent back to the pavilion. Flamboyant batsman Yuvraj Singh
and former skipper M S Dhoni just departed in quick succession. But Pandya raised India’s hopes by putting on board a quick-fire 74 off just 46 balls. But his brilliant innings, peppered with six sixes and four fours came to an end rather unfortunately as he was run out by Mohammad Hafeez following a miscommunication between Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja.
still had three wickets in hand but the deafening cheers from Pakistan
fans made clear that the end was nigh. Virat Kohli's boys lost their last four wickets in a space of only six runs.
(With inputs from Agencies)