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When Champions Trophy win brought more than pride and silverware
India-Pakistan Classics

When Champions Trophy win brought more than pride and silverware

As the subcontinent giants turn 70, writers at Cricingif relive the most riveting India-Pakistan encounters.

Normally it is a particular spell or an innings at the most critical juncture that make a match memorable. Not often does a one-sided affair qualify to be a classic.

But this match - the final of the ICC Champions Trophy between Pakistan and India - goes down as one of the most epic finals in the history of the game.

Victory in this match brought Pakistan much more than the satisfaction of defeating arch-rival India; the white coats that came with the win; and of course the prestigious silverware.

They defied all the odds that day to be crowned the champions.

Facing an opposition known for its penchant for chasing in the one-day format, it wasn’t surprising that Pakistan wanted to bat first. After winning the toss, Virat Kohli had no hesitation in putting Pakistan to bat right away.

The sun shone brightly that day, which was odd considering how the whole tournament had progressed under heavy cloud cover with most of the matches affected by erratic rain.

Perhaps the change in conditions led to a unique result.

For a nation languishing at the bottom of the rankings for securing automatic qualification for the 2019 World Cup, being in the final of the miniature World Cup was in itself a gigantic achievement.

Pakistan’s openers put up a century partnership for the second match running, helping them set a target of 338, the most in the final of an ICC event.

Later, their impressive display with the ball and in the field, save the moment when Azhar Ali spilled Kohli, made arguably the best batting line-up in the world look pedestrian. Pakistan won that contest comfortably by a huge 180-run margin.

The two-year-old PSL – that had been played in the United Arab Emirates due to an ongoing war at home - had a role to play in the extraordinary triumph. The exceptional youngsters that it brought forward spearheaded the team in all three facets of the game.

With a fiery century, Fakhar Zaman bagged the Man of the Final award. Hasan Ali’s three wickets in the match made him the Player of the tournament. Eighteen-year-old Shadab Khan appealed with the confidence of a veteran win the review, and wicket of Yuvraj Singh. A transformed Pakistan had shown up that day.

After being written off in the one-day format for a long time, the win has not only made them a 50-over force to reckon but it also pushed other teams to visit Pakistan, a thesis Waqar Younis presented on a late-night talk show.

Whether this is the case or not, time will tell. But one thing is for sure, it has put Pakistan right at the top, where it has waited forever to return to.