Pakistan bulldozed to kingly status authoritatively crowning themselves champions from the lowly dumps of the unpredictable to such brilliant glitz of a two pronged thrust of brilliant batting and impeccable swing bowling reminiscent of Wasim Akram fame. That the final trophy glitter was by whacking the daylights out of arch foes India who was on an ascendancy to a point of Virat Kohli breags, was indeed a truly remarkably euphoric new aura making milestone for a long war riddled nation unable to host international cricket, and that had last won a major world tournament in 1992. That was when the mercurial Imran Khan led Pakistan to the World Cup title 24 years ago.
That it took a long odyssey from a dark chapter that had seen a past generation of top notches depart leaving a transition emptiness bordering on a the doom to a new generation renaissance in the discovery of a truly durable new captain in Azhar Ahmed marked a new light at the end of the tunnel for Pakistan. Indeed, Pakistan turned the pages of time on all favourites as Azhar Ahmed’s team smote 5/2 odds on England, and ultimately 9/1 reigning champions India to be crowned the Champions Trophy kings.
But indeed Pakistan had ignited a whiff of a team that had peaked at long last during the championship to a point of hammering the daylights out of any giant side. They played with such great authority in the final to make a clear statement that victory over England was no flash in the pan. They reeled out champion stuff on the back of a significantly new look side in an astoundingly harmonizing act of fantastic fast bowling and magical batting. If the first hint that Pakistan was on course was flashed by some impeccable swing bowling by the fast bowlers giving an indication that they had been tutored by former fast bowling great Wasim Akram, what followed against England indeed applied salt. From Mohammad Amir to Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Hafeez. They were simply great.
The opening batting duo of Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali followed their 100-plus alliances against England in to the final against India. The 128 was indeed anointing stuff that signaled taking the wind out of India as Zaman went on to blast his way to 114 in just 106 balls with Ali making 59 that saw Pakistan close on 338 for 4 wickets. The duo not only scripted a huge trophy euphoria, they also signaled a new bastion of batsmen that has taken over the baton; a new aura reminiscent of the Saeed Anwar era right up front.
The manner in which India caved in for 158 with all the big guns reduced to shambles by the new ball in swing wizdry of Mohammad Amir was awesome. In his bag was the Indian prince of batting after Sachin Tendulkar – Virat Kohli who had been bragging big things wearing the big captaincy mantle of late.
The big plum in the bag apart, Pakistan dominating all the following individual awards buttressed the new ICC Champions of great quality: Player of the match – Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan), Player of the series – Hasan Ali (Pakistan), Batsman of the series – S Dhawan (India), Bowler of the series – Hasan Ali (Pakistan).
By Srian Obeyesekere
-The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sri Lanka Cricket-