Homeless Pakistan capture Champions Trophy

David Lord Columnist

By , David Lord is a Roar Expert

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    It’s hard to comprehend how Pakistan has played just one international series – against Zimbabwe in 2015 – at home since 2009, when terrorists attacked the touring Sri Lankans in Lahore.

    They have become cricketing nomads, often based in Dubai, which does nothing for the married members of the side as they live out of suitcases on the road.

    So it came as a major shock when Pakistan, having lost their opening game to India by 124 runs, then beat South Africa by 19, and Sri Lanka by three wickets to qualify for the Champions Trophy semis.

    There they smacked unbeaten England by eight wickets, and last night turned their Cinderella run into reality by crushing the white hot favourites in the final at The Oval by a record 180 runs.

    The win defied the odds, the pundits, and the commentators.

    Pakistan batted first to post the tournament’s highest score of 4-338 off their 50 overs.

    Fakhar Zaman showed the way with a brilliant 114 off just 106 that included 12 boundaries and three maximums. His opening stand with Azhar Ali of 128 set the scene and the pace for Pakistan to launch into the strong Indian attack.

    Mohammad Hafeez’s unbeaten 57 and Babar Azam’s 46 combined for that extraordinary total. What a time to post a tournament high.

    As high as it was, the Indian batting lineup was quite capable of reaching it, until Mohammad Amir took the new ball.

    Five overs later, India were blasted out of contention with massive run-getters Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and skipper Virat Kohli all back in the shed at 3-33, with Amir claiming 3-16.

    To put those three vital dismissals in perspective, Kohli averaged 129 for the tournament, Sharma 76, and Dhawan 67 – yet they could only manage 26 between them last night.

    In fact, India’s surprisingly low 158 was only reached thanks to 23-year-old Hardik Pandya, playing in just in his 12th international, who smashed 76 off 43 batting at seven with four fours and six huge sixes.

    In the washup, Zaman’s 114 won him the man of the match award, although there were many good reasons why Amir’s 3-16 could have been chosen.

    But it was Pakistan’s tournament even though they were never in the mix to even reach the semis.

    Pre-tournament, it was England and Australia in from the first group and India with South Africa in the second. But Australia, hurt by two successive no results due to persistent rain, and South Africa were beaten off by Bangladesh and Pakistan respectively.

    Now the beaming Pakistanis can return home to their cricket starved faithful with the coveted Champions Trophy held high, wearing their very smart white winner’s blazers.

    For mine, the best part of the tournament was the way both India and Pakistan mixed freely after the final, and Viral Kohli being very gracious in defeat, highly praising the Pakistanis.

    It’s a pity their politicians can’t be as open.

    David Lord
    David Lord

    David Lord was deeply involved in two of the biggest sporting stories - World Series Cricket in 1977 and professional rugby in 1983. After managing Jeff Thomson and Viv Richards during WSC, in 1983 David signed 208 of the best rugby players from Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and France to play an international pro circuit. The concept didn’t get off the ground, but it did force the IRB to get cracking and bring in the World Rugby Cup, now one of the world’s great sporting spectacles