London: Mohammad Amir removed all of India’s top three as Pakistan routed their arch-rivals by 180 runs in an astonishing Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday.
Title-holders India, set 339 to win, collapsed to 33 for three and 54 for five against a Pakistan side they had thrashed by 124 runs in their tournament opener at Edgbaston on June 4.
They were eventually dismissed for 158 in reply to Pakistan’s 338 for four, which featured Fakhar Zaman’s 114, the left-handed opener’s maiden one-day international hundred coming in just his fourth match at this level.
Amir, who missed Pakistan’s eight-wicket semi-final win over England with a back spasm, finished with three wickets for 16 runs in six overs.
But it was fellow paceman Hasan Ali, the player of the tournament having kick-started Pakistan’s revival in their group-win over South Africa, who ended the match with more than 19 overs to spare when he had tailender Jasprit Bumrah caught by gleeful captain and wicket-keeper Sarfraz Ahmed.
Left-arm fast bowler Amir, whose career was almost ended on the other side of London’s River Thames by a ban and jail term he received for his part in a spot-fixing scam during a 2010 Test against England at Lord’s, was superb. He dismissed three of the world’s top (ODI) batsmen in Rohit Sharma (nought), India captain Virat Kohli (five) and Shikhar Dhawan (21) in a stunning new-ball spell.
Amir struck just three balls into India’s reply when, after bowling two outswingers to Sharma, he had him lbw with a superb inswinger.
Then one ball after Kohli, the world’s leading ODI batsman, was dropped at slip off Amir, the bowler had him caught at point by Shadab Khan.
The collapse continued when left-handed opener Dhawan was caught behind off Amir by Sarfraz.
India then lost two wickets for no runs in four balls to be 54 for five inside 14 overs.
Leg-spinner Shadab took a wicket with his sixth ball when Yuvraj Singh (22) was lbw, although it needed a Pakistan review of an original not out decision.
Former captain MS Dhoni had rescued India from many a dire position in his long career.
But he could not stop Sunday’s slide as he holed out off Hasan, with Imad Wasim taking a low catch in the deep.
Pakistan, who had lost all three of their previous matches against India in the knockout stages of International Cricket Council tournaments and started this event the lowest ranked of all the eight teams taking part, were now on the brink of a sensational win.
Hardik Pandya gave the stunned India fans in a capacity crowd something to cheer as he hit three sixes off succesive balls to bring up a dashing fifty.
But he only looked to be delaying the inevitable and a huge mix-up with Jadeja saw the all-rounder, to his evident fury, run out for 76.
Earlier, Fakhar made the most of an early reprieve after Kohli won the toss and sent Pakistan in on a typically good Oval pitch, with the sunny conditions seemingly ideal for batting.
He was caught behind off Bumrah on three but replays showed the paceman had bowled a no-ball.
Fakhar, the man-of-the-match, shared an opening stand of 128 with Azhar Ali (59) and then put on 72 with Babar Azam (46) for the second wicket. Pakistan veteran Mohammad Hafeez’s quickfire 57 not out, including three sixes, then took Pakistan well beyond 300. Denied the calming influence of an early wicket, India’s bowlers looked nervous. But the run-out Pakistan’s openers had pair had threatened arrived when Fakhar’s failure to respond to Azhar’s call saw the former ODI captain fall by a distance.
Fakhar then drove left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja for six. The 27-year-old completed a 92-ball hundred including two sixes when he swept star off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, for his 12th four.
He was eventually out when he sliced medium-pacer Pandya to Jadeja, running back from point. AFP