It was the clash of the titans final that many cricket fans wanted to happen; India versus Pakistan. Although a repeat of their opening game where India won by a comfortable 124 runs, Pakistan set up a strong run of performances to get to the final to meet an ever-reliable India side.
And once there, Pakistan were a different side. They were a team with heroes throughout, many playing a crucial part in their team’s victory.
Fakhar Zaman shared an impressive opening stand of 128 with Azhar Ali, at one point taking 32 runs in the space of eight legal deliveries.
Bowler Azhar Ali played some of his best cricket with many claiming he will soon reach world class status.
Even the mighty Virat Kohli, the captain of India and a superstar of Indian cricket, and possibly the world’s best batsmen, could not find any answers to the Pakistani bowling attack. He could not score more than five runs.
In all, it was Pakistan’s day. From the start of the final they seemed to have an edge and a belief they would do well. They were a team on the rise and they played like it.
Both India and Pakistan had stormed in to the final, with Pakistan’s victory over England and India’s defeat of Bangladesh. Though tellingly Pakistan might have faced tougher opposition to do so.
England, the host nation, seemed to be the in form team but capitulated to Pakistan and ended up suffering an eight-wicket hammering in the first semi-final. Some brilliant Pakistan bowling and fielding completely subdued the hosts. The signs were ominous.
India had also taken complete control of their semi-final. Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli hit sublime centuries to secure India’s place and for Virat Kohli it was another batting masterclass, proving why he is one of the biggest names in global cricket. His side won by nine wickets. However, perhaps the Indian batsmen had not been tested.
There was to be no repeat of the group stages for Indian fans. Pakistan, a side that had seemed to be beaten, had a point to prove. And prove it they did.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed was full of praise for the team’s victory and his team mates, ‘After the India match when we lost in the group stage, I told my boys the tournament hadn’t finished yet. Credit goes to my boys. Fakhar is a great impact player, he played like a champion batsman. Amir bowled brilliantly but all my bowlers [did] really well. We have a young team and credit to my boys.’
And India captain Virat Kohli was gracious in defeat, ‘Pakistan had a good performance, I congratulate them. They deserve to win. They need victories like these. Things weren’t happening for them and then they win a tournament.’