The ultimate victory of champions

Pakistan’s triumph over India in Champions Trophy Final on Sunday was perhaps the best ever example of “unpredictability” that our team has always been famous for. They may get defeated by a team in opening match of a championship but they will beat the same team in final match of the same series. That is Pakistan for you. Pak team entered the championship with the lowest ranking (8th) among all participants and they were facing the defending champions. After the horrible 124-run defeat at the hands of India in first league match, Pakistan was almost completely written off by cricket pundits all around and were most likely to drop out of series in first round, but then fates took a turn at 180 degree. It defeated the No.1 ODI ranked South Africa, the unbeaten England in semi-final and finally the defending champions India in the final. Doing what others think is impossible has always been the hall mark of Pakistan team and they proved that once again.

India was completely out classed by a resurgent Pakistan in all departments. Batting first, the new comer Fakhar Zaman helped his side erect a mammoth total of 338 runs that promised an interesting final but then the bowling happened and it was complete blood bath. Mohammad Amir ripped through the top batting order of India and then Hasan Ali finished the job and India was bowled out for 158 in just 30 overs. The two heroes for Pakistan were two of the most junior players in the team. Opener Fakhar Zaman only made his international debut in the second match of the tournament. He proceeded to score two half centuries and then a magnificent century in the final which knocked the stuffing out of the India team. The player of the tournament was pacer Hassan Ali, who ended up as the highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets and, entirely appropriately, took the final wicket as well. But this was a team effort, with everyone chipping in to do their bit and by the final even our much-maligned fielding had gone to a new level.

Pakistan’s victory in Champions Trophy final over India has proven to be the good news we all have been waiting for. The vigor and joy with which whole of the nation celebrated it shows that cricket still possess the capacity to bring around everyone for a brief period of relief. After a long wait, after many ups and downs, Pakistan as a nation once again saw how quickly, how decisively and how joyously cricket can bring the country together, uniting people across class, ethnicity, gender and every other divide. The celebrations seen in Baluchistan and Indian held Kashmir shows that cricket frenzy is a national treasure that can act is a force of solidarity. This is the beginning of a new era in Pakistan’s cricket where a young but talented and united team can continue the winning streak that has just been formed at the Oval. Fault lines still exist but now is not the time to worry, now is the time to celebrate and give our champions a welcome they deserve.

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Mian Bilal