We generally do associate Pakistan cricket team with a term ‘unpredictables.’ They tend to come up against the odds in big games or ICC events. Nothing was different this time in the build-up to the Champions Trophy 2017.
Defeated By Zimbabwe in 2015, Things Looked Gloom and Doom:-
Two years ago, Zimbabwe defeated Pakistan in an ODI game. This loss meant Pakistan were 9th in the ODI rankings table. A few days later, the deadline to qualify for the Champions Trophy was on the horizon. Many thought this is Pakistan cricket at worst, they can’t turn this around.
Yet the Green Army managed to qualify for the lucrative ICC event. They defeated Sri Lanka in an ODI series away from home to confirm their place in this tournament. Though, things did look bleak leading up to these sets of matches against world’s top sides.
Thrashed by India in the first game but came back strongly:-
To start with, a game against India was of utmost importance. Pakistan lost that game by 124 runs and never looked a team which can even turn up in the next games. Then came the unpredictability and fearlessness of this team. They defeated South Africa by bowling extremely well against a well-oiled Protea batting lineup.
In a do or die game against Sri Lanka, it was Pakistan’s bowling again which restricted the Lankans to 236. Chase was a bit wobbly until captain Sarfaraz Ahmed stepped up when required to get his team into the semi-finals. It felt like a fairy tale to many, but few were slowly starting to compare this team with the one that won the World Cup back in 1992.
That comparison took another level when Pakistan thumped England in the semi-final. A good bowling performance again set up that victory. This time it was complemented by an even better batting performance. Into the final they go, arch-rivals against them, fairy tale had another story, the stage couldn’t be bigger to upstage the favourites.
On the finals day, they were put into bat by Virat Kohli and never looked back from there. A tentative start but once the openers settled, it was surprisingly a fearless approach by the Pakistan batsmen to outplay Indians in the field. Fakhar Zaman with brilliant innings and Hafeez playing a gem to propel them to a challenging 338. I say ‘challenging’ just because the Indian batting lineup had enough potential to chase this down.
But, you can’t count the Pakistan bowling out at any time. Mohammad Amir stepped up and delivered a spell that dismantled India’s lucrative top order which until then had made 80% of the team’s runs in this tournament. They cranked up the pressure on a rusty Indian middle order and managed to bowl them out for a paltry 158.
In all fairness, win by a margin of 180 runs in a final of an ICC tournament against arch-rivals can’t be done by any other team. Pakistan can only manage these types of wins. They always turn up on the biggest stages and show the world that talent is infinite in this country. Yet another ICC event and the Green Army have managed to defy the odds and win something miraculous.
This time they have clinched the trophy which underlines their credentials. For sure, they are an exciting team to watch as a neutral, you always know something is around the corner when this team is on the field. Especially in ICC events, they tend to excite their fans with unbelievable performances. Worthy winners, in the end, I’d say, outplayed the favourites in a final.
It won’t be a surprise if they lose matches in the future and again turn up for the 2019 World Cup. This is how they function and this is what is exciting about them, on their day they can even the beat the invincibles. A true example of ‘unpredictability’ in this world.