How Pakistan Cut India To Size And Become ICC Champions 2017 – OpEd


Pakistan created history, if not a miracle, at The Oval on June 18 by winning the ICC Champions 2017 Trophy — and they did so by thrashing a formidable team from India.

Eventually, the bowlers won the Trophy for Pakistan. Re-energized bowler Mohammad Amir tore through the India top order to cripple Indian “prowess” and force the “defending champions” to a meager 54-5. India eventually limped to 158, thanks to Pakistani team decision, after taking a dominant winning position, to take its neighbors beyond 150 runs.

Yes, a strong Indian cricket fort has decisively been breached by Pakistan in England to clinch the prestigious ICC Champions Trophy 2017, trouncing the “defending champions” and in doing so it emerged as a formidable team for the first time in years — notwithstanding the fact that the nation has been undergoing destabilization process led by the USA-NATO on the one hand, and by India and the UK, on the other.

Pakistan won by 180 runs to take their first global 50-over title since 1992. The rest of the Pakistan attack was irresistible, backed up by excellent fielding, all in front of a vibrant, raucous and enthusiastic capacity crowd. That Pakistan lifted the trophy was surprising enough — at eighth in the world they began as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament — but it is the way they demolished the strong favorites that will live long in the memory.

When both the bowlers and batboys from Pakistan play well working in tandem, Pakistan can win any trophy. As the Pakistani team came with a well-knit plan and unitedly executed it on the field, all ‘sensible’ knocks of Rohit and Dhawan and Kolhi became irrelevant and their consistency had no place in front of Pakistani bowlers.

India’s humbling defeat in recent years took place at the Oval in England where the tournament took place as Pakistan shocked the world by producing an incredible display of bowling-bating capability to thrash fierce rivals and the defending Indian team,  which betting agencies had projected as the favorites and to win the Champions Trophy. Nevertheless, inspired Pakistan thrash India by 180 runs. (Pakistan 338-4 (50 overs): Fakhar 114, Azhar 59, Hafeez 57. India 158 all out (30.3 overs): Pandya 76, Amir 3-16, Hasan 3-19)

As PM Modi and Indian corporate lords were busy with their visit to the US to meet a confused Trump, India hoping to outsmart the Green team and let Pakistan score a big total 339 runs. Thus Pakistan set Kohli’s side what India thought was a “competitive” target of 339. This kind of total is unusual and it cannot be chased down by the Indian opponents without help from the Pakistani bowling team. But Indian batboys did not expect a serious bowling team of Pakistan emerging right in the tournament. India upon managing the toss asked Pakistan to bat first and Indian batboys were sure of easily chasing down whatever target the bowlers offer to Pakistani batboys.

Fortune favors the brave, it is said, and so it proved for Pakistan — Fakhar finding his touch eventually to smite his way to 114 off just 106 balls – a maiden ODI hundred plucked straight from one of his wildest dreams. Batboy Fakhar Zaman hit a spectacular century to propel Pakistan to 338-4 in the scorching south London sunshine, a maiden century coming in his fourth ODI after Pakistan was invited to bat. Fakhar flayed the ball all around the Oval. Fakhar was installed at the top of the order, man of the tournament Hasan Ali fronted a talented pace attack and energetic captain Sarfraz Ahmed marshaled a team that grew in confidence and momentum.

Pakistani batboys did shine as the Indian bowling unit failed to grasp the rising power of Pakistani team in the tournament already defeating better teams Sri Lanka, England and South Africa. World number ones South Africa were beaten in the rain before Pakistan edged past Sri Lanka to reach the last four. England, the much-fancied hosts, was brushed aside in Cardiff before an incredible performance in the final – their biggest margin of victory over India in an ODI.

Young batboy Fakhar Zaman, who was yet to play for his country when the tournament began, showed early on just how clearly the day would always be Pakistan’s. In the fourth over he was out caught behind. Except he wasn’t, Bumrah had bowled a no ball — fate had other plans.

Though Fakhar had illuminated The Oval, there was confidence in Indian camp and a suspicion around that Pakistan’s total was within reach of India’s stellar batting. That was until Amir got to work. He routed Indian bating bones and nerves by taking quick 3 wickets of top batboys. Rohit Sharma was pinned lbw by the third ball of the innings, only for Azhar Ali to spill a straightforward first-slip chance off India captain and master run-chaser Virat Kohli. However, from the very next ball, Kohli was squared up and athletically held at point by Shadab Khan, before Shikhar Dhawan edged behind. After Yuvraj Singh was given lbw on review to leg-spinner Shadab and MS Dhoni holed out off the pace of Hasan, the contest was as good as done.

A quarter-of-a-century ago, Pakistan came from the brink of elimination to win the World Cup, inspired by captain Imran Khan telling them to “fight like cornered tigers”. Here, they recovered from a humbling defeat by India in their opening game with similar tenacity. Bowler Aamir led the team to reach the final and then continued to lead it to win the trophy as well.

Indian strategy

India started off on a strong note with a commanding win over Pakistan in the Group B match, but Pakistan extracted revenge rather emphatically in the summit clash of the tournament, pulling off a 180-run win. The tournament saw its share of ups and downs — from rain spoiling the proceedings in most games, top sides such as South Africa and Australia getting knocked out in the first round to Bangladesh reaching the semi-final of an ICC tournament for the very first time, and Pakistan scripting a fairy tale.

India was sure and upbeat about its chances to retain the Trophy. The other competitor was England. Pakistan was nowhere in the picture until all of a sudden it won the title. Luck favored them.

Pakistan did not let India shine even a little – let alone too much. India may have won the toss, but it was of no concern to Pakistan, they only dealt in certainty. Indian agenda of winning the final easily with at least 2 full hundreds, maybe one each for Kolhi and Rohit or Dhoni fizzled out. Dhoni thought Pakistan would let him shine with non-stop 6s and 4s so that he could take all the credit for the trophy. But no, that was only a pure imagination of Indians. …

When Pakistan thrashed England at the semifinals, India also wanted similar win and Bangladesh that played the semifinals with India helped the latter to achieve that objective. Now Bangladesh or West indies would first help India n batboys to shine before India could face Pakistan.

Possibly India tried for quick wickets but failed and began offering big runs. Ideas were to feed Pakistani batboys well so that Indian batboys also would be given enough runs in return. India gave a 100 to a new Pakistani batboy and expected return favors to Koli, Rohit and Dhoni. That was a miscalculation. Not only Pakistani batboys enjoyed a big score with so many 6s and 4s and flue gifts, their bowlers also enjoyed removing the batboys in a sustained manner and refused to throw easy balls to Dhoni for 6s and 4s. Dhoni, like Kohli, is fond of hitting 6s and 4s but Pakistani bowlers were not quite impressed by their interests.

India, favoring a chase, gave up the chance to bat first on a run-filled surface and were made to pay by left-hander Fakhar. He was reprieved on three, caught behind off a Bumrah no-ball, and went on to carve, slice and belt his way to a 92-ball century. Fakhar shared an opening stand of 128 with Azhar Ali and, after a mix-up that saw Azhar run out, sprang to life. At one point, he took 32 runs in the space of eight legal deliveries. When Fakhar miscued the impressive Bhuvneshwar Kumar to a back-tracking Ravindra Jadeja at point, India pulled themselves back into contention. Mohammad Hafeez made an unbeaten 57 from 37 balls and Babar Azam 46 from 52, but India’s canny death bowling seemed to have kept them in contention. As it turned out, Pakistan had far too many for them.

Interestingly, even while batboys were falling, Indian cricket commentators kept on assuring the fans on TV that India would emerge victorious. When Dhoni came to the crease they said that now Dhoni would the needful to steady lead the team to victory. But he also fell quickly, disappointing the Indian government and BCCI.

However, India is happy that at least Hardik Pandya got a 50 from Pakistan but his six-hitting in a 43-ball 76 always seemed likely to be in vain. It was not long after he was run out that last man Bumrah flapped at Hasan – and the Pakistan celebrations begun.

Pakistan’s day

The Oval in Great Britain was always destined to belong to Pakistan even much before the final match was to begin. Pakistan was upbeat and more confident than a hitherto formidable India. Pakistani body language revealed that they had a foolproof plan which it executed perfectly.

Pakistan is qualitatively and emotionally different from Bangladesh and did not let India shine.

A pathetic looking and badly composed Pakistan entered the tournament of ICC title as its lowest ranked side and without any homework to target each player of the opposite camp. But India always works overnight to identify the weaknesses of batboys and bowlers as well as their strengths.
Apparently India and England competed for the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 and made strenuous efforts to keep other top competitors like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In many ways they helped the opponents to defeat teams like South Africa so that both play the final. But to their shock Pakistan came up fast and played the final with India, England having been kicked out by Pakistan.

Obviously, the entire cricket world stands shocked and England cannot digest this and so is India which is unable understand the Pakistan phenomenon even after several decades of fights on the borders and cricket fields now. And obviously India cannot take the crushing defeat by India kindly and would wait for opportunities so to defeat Pakistan in a similar fashion. That is the mindset of India.

One can guess it’s going to be your day when Mohammad Hafeez — ODI strike rate 75.58 — makes an unbeaten 57 off 37 balls. But when the ball cannoned into his stumps only for a bail to cheekily hop up out of its groove and land straight back in it again, they should really have started engraving Pakistan’s name on the trophy.

However, this was no fluke from Pakistan, rather a match where they forced fortune to wear green and white for the day, an opening salvo from Mohammad Amir all but finishing the game off inside the first nine overs. There was still time for Shadab Khan, the youngest man to ever play in an ICC final, to pick up a couple of scalps, the first requiring admirable confidence to unequivocally ask for a review when his LBW shout against Yuvraj Singh was turned down. Shadab, along with man of the match Fakhar and man of the tournament Hasan Ali, showed the impact the Pakistan Super League has already had on the fortunes of the national team, the triumvirate all coming to prominence thanks to performances in the fledgling T20 competition. For Hasan the acclaim was well deserved, he ended as leading wicket-taker in the competition, fittingly finishing things off when he got Jasprit Bumrah caught behind — the match, the day and the tournament destined to be never anything else but belonging to Pakistan.

Amir has potential to be the greatest bowler!

Mohammad Amir, the target of Indo-England to cripple Pakistan bowling unit, is a big match player. Ever since his comeback from the “spot-fixing” ban, Amir hasn’t lived up to the high hopes and expectations of the cricketing world. He’s sparkled in bits with breathtaking spells, providing the ‘WOW’ moments. But somewhere down the line consistency and a match-winning performance were missing.

When the games are on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs and the more amped up he gets. He doesn’t shy away from pressure situations and big games. He provides the defining moment of the match, sending back the best ODI chaser in the world and giving a complete performance that the country was yearning for. He’s got proper big match temperament. From anguish to joy in a matter of seconds, Amir has gone through a whole range of emotions just like he has throughout his bumpy career so far.

The story was the same before the final in this Champions Trophy. He had scalped just two wickets from 28.1 overs at 67.50 and a strike rate of 84.5. His most telling contribution came with the bat where he played a sensible knock of 28 against Sri Lanka to guide Pakistan past the finish line in a tense chase along with Captain Sarfraz Ahmed. Then onwards, Pakistan was moving ahead.
On a sunny Sunday the June 18, the Oval was amidst the cacophony of 25,000-odd vociferous fans, watching the collapse of Indian batting line up. Aamir, the sleeping giant, woke up on the big stage to bowl one of the most crucial spells of his life — 6-2-16-3. It broke India’s spine and they never recovered. This was the Amir that Pakistan was craving for. The Amir phenomenon could destroy the opposition with consummate ease and put his hand up when Pakistan required him the most. The Amir who could win matches for Pakistan. He even made a nostalgic Wasim Akram tweet, “You little beauty reminded me of my days.”

At the Oval, on can feel the adrenaline pumping as Aamir turns at the top of his mark against India. There is a genuine sense of belief that Pakistan could pull something special out of the hat. Amir sets the tone by setting up Rohit Sharma beautifully. Two outswingers are followed by an inswinger to trap the in-form opener on the crease and dismiss him LBW. The partnership that had amassed the most runs in the tournament is broken. Amir lets out a roar. Rohit trudges back in disappointment. Shikhar Dhawan was his next target. He’s bowling in the corridor of uncertainty with substantial pace. Dhawan, the highest “run-getter” in the tournament, is slowly getting into the groove but six overs later, Amir outclasses the southpaw with a cross-seam delivery which generates extra bounce to catch his outside edge.

There is still that thrill and excitement factor related to Amir every time he runs in to bowl. After quick wicket of Rohit, Mohammad Amir had already set off in celebration. But each time Pakistani fielder drop catches of his ball, Aamir is in disbelief with a ‘you’ve dropped the Champions Trophy’ look on his face. After the dropped catch, Amir walks back, kicking the field probably wondering whether a unique record — that of the number of catches dropped off his bowling — could be created. Amir’s aeroplane celebration takes off. Arthur is up on his feet applauding. Kohli walks off in disbelief shadow practicing the shot again. Kohli was out and he returned to pavilion, totally disillusioned.

And again bowler Aamir played very vital role in quickly removing the top three batboys from the crease without giving them any real runs even as many India’s former cricket gods led by S. Tendulkar witnessed the collapse of their team without getting any support from Pakistani bowlers. Blessing of Tendulkar as god did not work in India’s favor.

The top order has been India’s lynchpin throughout the tournament. The trio of Dhawan, Rohit and Kohli has scored a staggering 81 percent (874/1074) of the team’s runs before the final. Amir, with three wickets, has virtually forced India into submission inside the first powerplay, on a batting paradise. “We spoke about it actually in the team meeting. We thought that if we could get through that Indian top order early, we could probably expose that middle order that hadn’t batted a fair amount. And Amir was the guy who could do that for us,” coach Arthur says in the post-match conference. “In the first two games he didn’t get any wicket but he had bowled particularly well. We were always thinking there was one spell in him somewhere and the spell came thankfully today. At the start of the final, we put India on the back foot which certainly gave us an upper hand.”

First he got Rohit Sharma LBW with a perfect swinging delivery. Then in his next over he bowled two balls that perfectly encapsulated the entire cricketing history of Pakistan. Despair followed by elation, as Virat Kohli was dropped in the slips only to be caught off a leading edge the very next ball. With Kohli gone, so too did Indian hopes of chasing down Pakistan’s total, followed a bit later by many of their fans pouring out of The Oval, their places in the stands taken in many cases by Pakistan fans who had been waiting outside the ground.

Former England captain Alec Stewart on Test Match Special: “That was Aamir single handedly dong everything for the team. Brilliant from Pakistan’s point of view – their bowling was high quality. “Former England captain and now a commentator Nasser Hussain said “He loves a challenge, Kohli. He loves doing things that people can’t do.” But very soon Kolhi was back in his seat at the pavilion. Minutes later, Amir sends Kohli back into the hut, but not before Kohli has been dropped. It’s not often that someone forces Kohli to make mistakes twice. Amir does. Aamir sent him back quickly enough. Indeed Kolhi and other batboys do not love or appreciate challenges from bowlers. They can shine and hit only if bowlers are weak or “arranged” to offer big scorers. The best example is how Bangladesh bowled India to a handsome win at the semi-final, letting it reach the final as the “going” team.

Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis are two of the all-time greats but Amir is showing he has the same potential.” Pakistan legend Wasim Akram on Twitter: “Wow, wow, wow – unbelievable performance by team green. It feels like deja vu after winning the 1992 World Cup. I am over the moon.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed: “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 bowled really well. We have a young team and credit to my boys.”

Former Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq on Twitter: “Congratulations to the Pakistan team and the whole country for such a great win. Boys, you made us happy and proud. Up and above from here!
However, Misbah wants the cricket matches to be won by batboys and he never gives credit to bowlers. India captain Virat Kohli: “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.”

India and UK lose cash in bets

Neither India nor England could win the trophy. England’s fans also supported India in the final. Not just that. Both lost a lot of money in bets.

With deteriorating diplomatic ties preventing the two from facing each other in a bilateral series, India vs Pakistan is one of the most anticipated and most watched fixtures in the cricketing world. Some may say it’s even bigger than the Ashes. As it was the first major final between both these nations since the 2007 World T20 final, the prospect of watching the two face-off in an ICC Champions Trophy final only raised the expectations of fans.

When India faced Pakistan at the Oval, national pride apart, a lot of money too was at stake, Rs 2,000 crore to be precise, according to a report in Times of India. Gambling like sex market is legal in England and Indians can bet on the match through international cards and e-wallets. According to estimates by the AIGF, roughly Rs 2,000 crore will be bet on the match. Rolland Landers, CEO of AIGF (All India Gaming Federation) was quoted saying to the Times of India, “It has been estimated by many studies that roughly a total of Rs 2 lakh crore is wagered on all matches that India play throughout the year. And since this is the first time India and Pakistan will be meeting in the final of a cricket tournament in around 10 years, the bets are high.” Cricket bosses, experts and fans have predicted India to win the match and the bet odds that have been offered reflect the same.


ICC Champions Trophy 2017 belongs to Islamabad but that is not everything.

Bowler Aamir makes Pakistan a serious contender for titles in future. Only a team spirit and perfect home work on video clips should do a lot of good for them and positive attitude would provide inspirational guidance.

Pakistan who lost their opening game to India by 124 runs to sweet revenge at the finals’ show with its mammoth total of 330 runs with a win margin by 180 runs at the Oval.

That is the real show of strength and display of united will of the team. No one expected this kind of disciplined show of performance in unity. This was indeed monumental from Pakistan, who in dispatching India by 180 runs seemed to almost bend the will of the Indian and global cricket gods, cricketing or otherwise, with the unstoppable force of their performance.

Pakistanis are now somewhat perfect in bowling that gave extra force to its batboys to play better and the team played the best and the 2017 ICC Trophy home. This time, Pakistani batboys avoided runouts. Hence one early run out by the opener possibly was deliberate. In the 50th over, Pakistan did not lose any wickets and kept the remaining 6 wickets intact. This upset Indian team leaders Kolhi and Dhoni and caused negativity in them in the next session where entire team collapsed cheaply.
Pakistan had to offer 50 to Pandya as a gift to India as they apparently wanted to give at least 150 runs to India. Otherwise Pandya could not have got so many runs when the top players like Kolhi and Dhawan and Rohit could not get any such runs.

Pakistani cricketers are not supposed to help Indian batboys, unlike other foreign bowlers and even batboys who work for Indian causes as the IPL members bought by Indian compote lords and black monied billionaires, like international fraud BJP MP Mallya, who is now wanted by Indian courts but now enjoys life in London with UK-Indian joint state protection.

Once again, it has been proven that by and large the bowlers decide the outcome of cricket matches. If the bowlers are fools and offer big and quick runs, batboys would enjoy their stay at the crease and hit 50s, 100s, etc and throw away their wickets to their favorite fielder when they amass runs in 6s and 4s. If bowlers refuse runs to the batboys, even the top most batboys would collapse and return to pavilion. Indian returned to the pavilion that way. Tendulkar stopped paying cricket that way.

Yes, devils know all tricks and use them weaken any good, talented worker.

In the latest IPL India, it was vividly clear that from the semi-level onwards the batboys were not allowed to enjoy at the case and they lost their wickets soon as bowlers were somewhat serious about their profession.

India cannot just take cricket defeat kindly, especially against Pakistan and that too losing a very important ICC trophy for which India was well prepared. India would frantically looking for opportunity to pay back. First, it would secure 100s and 50s for their defeated batboys in the scheduled tours. South Africa Bangladesh would help India overcome the ICC cup agony to some extent. Hence Pakistan also needs to be up to date in skills and trainings.

Batboys hit only if bowlers are fools or pretend to be so. Pakistan should make bowling their main fort and train more bowlers. Usually, bowlers are told to take wickets and offer too many runs in 4s and 6ds so that batboys survive as favorites of the regimes and compote media for awards.

This scenario must change. Bowlers should be told not to focus on bogus wickets but on dotball techniques to deny easy runs to the batboys. Let the batboys struggle to get runs. ^s and 4s are illegal as if ball is het directly outside the boundary line that should be signaled OUT. And there should not be 4s as well. Batboys must earn runs in the proper way by running between the wickets.

Aamir should henceforth be very cautious as Indo-UK would try new tricks to trap him and remove him from the cricket field once for all so that there is no real threat to batboys who crave for 100s by mischievous means. Already he had a bitter experience with these two nations and because of them he had to suffer.

Dr. Abdul Ruff

Dr. Abdul Ruff is a columnist contributing articles to many newspapers and journals on world politics. He is an expert on Mideast affairs, as well as a chronicler of foreign occupations and freedom movements (Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Xinjiang, Chechnya, etc.). Dr. Ruff is a specialist on state terrorism, the Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA), commentator on world affairs and sport fixings, and a former university teacher. He is the author of various eBooks/books and editor for INTERNATIONAL OPINION and editor for FOREIGN POLICY ISSUES; Palestine Times.

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