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Pakistan wins Champions Trophy, crushes archrival India

Embarrassed by India in its opening match, Pakistan has astonishingly turned the tables on its arch-rival to win their Champions Trophy final by a crushing 180 runs at The Oval.

India was the lopsided 4-9 favorite by English bookmakers to win a record third Trophy in a record fourth final, but Pakistan blew away all predictions and expectations with a win of stunning ease.

Pakistan, made to bat first for the first time in the tournament, racked up a final-record innings of 338-4, founded on a 128-run opening stand between Fakhar Zaman, who earned his maiden one-day international century with 114, and Azhar Ali, whom Fakhar ran out on 59.

India was then routed for 158 in the 31st over.

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed took the last catch and aeroplaned around the pitch with his arms out before he was swamped by teammates.

India’s top three batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and captain Virat Kohli – came to the final having combined for 874 runs, more than 80 percent of the team’s tally in the tournament.

But Sharma was out for a duck off the third ball, Kohli went for 5, and Dhawan, the player of the 2013 tournament and a candidate for this one, was out for 21.

All three were gone after nine overs, five of them fierce seam bowling by Mohammad Amir, who was passed fit to play after missing the surprise semifinal victory over England because of a back spasm.

Pakistan’s players celebrate their victory over India on the pitch after the ICC Champions Trophy final cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Oval in London on June 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Amir took out all three of India’s premier batsmen, bowled a maiden for figures of 6-2-16-3, then watched as his teammates mopped up.

Hardik Pandya hit a go-for-broke 76 off 43 balls, including six sixes, but his career-best slog was stopped when he was run out by teammate Ravindra Jadeja.

Jadeja was out in the next over, as India’s last four wickets went for six runs, medium-pacer Hasan Ali taking two of them to extend his tournament-leading tally to 13.

Pakistan was the last team to qualify for the Trophy, the lowest-ranked at eighth out of eight, and written off after its opening loss to India by 124 runs.

But the Pakistanis wrote off that defeat as an aberration. They beat South Africa, Sri Lanka and host England to reach their first Trophy final, where only they believed they could end a seven-match, six-year losing streak to India in global tournaments.

The omens weren’t good at the toss as India made Pakistan bat first. Pakistan bowled first in its previous four Trophy matches, and only once in Trophy history has a team batting first won the final; India in 2013. But luck was on Pakistan’s side.

Fakhar should have been out for 3 in the fourth over, caught behind, but Jasprit Bumrah delivered a no ball.

Fellow opener Azhar survived run out chances on 15 and 29.They made India pay for the let-off and misses.

Fakhar and Azhar produced a stand of 128, the first consecutive opening century partnership by Pakistan in 14 years.

After Fakhar caused Azhar to be run out on 59, he took out his frustration on India, notably spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Jadeja.

Pakistan’s Sarfraz Ahmed (L) celebrates with teammates after taking the final catch, confirming their victory over India after the ICC Champions Trophy final cricket match between India and Pakistan at The Oval in London on June 18, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Fakhar brought up his maiden century in his fourth one-day international by muscling a sweep of Ashwin for his 12th boundary. He danced to the other end, waved his bat to all parts of the packed ground, and kissed the pitch.

The sixth ever century in a Trophy final ended in the 34th over at 200-2. Fakhar, out to a nice catch on the run by Jadeja behind square, scored 114 off 106 balls.

For once, the Pakistan middle order didn’t waste the great start.

Mohammad Hafeez whacked 57 not out off 37 balls, Babar Azam 46, and Imad Wasim 25 not out, as the last 10 overs netted 91 runs, giving Pakistan’s bowlers – its strength – an impressive total to defend.

India was asked to produce the highest successful run chase in Trophy history, and had the weapons to do it.

But so did Pakistan, who restricted their last three opponents to below 240. Amir, fired up, got Sharma lbw.

In Amir’s second over, Kohli was dropped at slip. But the Pakistanis consoled culprit Azhar and reset.

Next ball, Kohli hit it straight to Shadab at point and Amir, bowling at 140-plus kph, had his second wicket.

Dhawan was out to an Amir cross seamer, and India was 33-3.Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni could still rescue India, but Singh was hit pad first by spinner Shadab, confirmed by video review.

The next over, Dhoni top-edged a pull off Hasan to deep square leg and, at 54-5, Indian fans began to leave in droves. This was a reversal they couldn’t bear to watch any longer.

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