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Two missed chances and a bizarre run out


India_Pakistan_CricketThe Champions Trophy final turned on its head after two missed chances, one in each innings. The impact, it has to be stressed, was quite contrasting but both went in favour of Pakistan, enabling them to grab the Trophy and finally break their hoodoo against India in major ICC tournaments.

Fakhar Zaman, that flamboyant opener, was the architect of Pakistan's huge total of 338 as he slammed a terrific hundred. Mohammad Hafeez and Imad Wasim then led Pakistan to a pretty good total for a tournament final. But India had their chances in the game.

The first of them came in the 4th over of the Pakistan innings.

Over 3.1

Jasprit Bumrah to Fakhar Zaman

The Indian seamer angled a full length delivery across Zaman, who slashed at the delivery and edged behind to MS Dhoni. The Indians were already celebrating before noticing umpire Marais Erasmus had signaled that it was a no-ball.

The terrific Pakistani opener went on to dominate the Indian bowlers, flaying them to all corners of the ground to raise a maiden hundred. The Indians had only Bumrah's foot to blame as the southpaw stepped out to the spinners to crash them over mid-wicket or rocked back to cut them through point. His hundred came at more than run a ball and it gave Pakistan a mighty big start that they could build on.

The second moment came in the Indian innings with Mohammad Amir having gotten rid of Rohit Sharma in the very first over, off the third ball, for a duck. The left arm seamer was pumped up and in his next over induced an edge off Virat Kohli that flew between the off side fielders for a couple. But the real moment came two balls later.

Over 2.3

Mohammad Amir to Virat Kohli

Amir persisted with his outside off-stump line to Kohli, knowing that the Indian skipper has a tendency to nick behind off that line when the ball is moving a bit. Amir angled one across Kohli and the skipper edged it to Azhar Ali at first slip, who made a mess of a straightforward chance. He caught the ball but let it slip out, juggling it off his shoulder and ultimately dropping it, much to the annoyance of Mohammad Amir and Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed.

However, what occurred after that was the real turning point in this all important final. The very next delivery was pushed into Kohli's pads but was still moving across him. The Indian captain looked to whip it leg-side and got a leading edge which popped up to point, where Shadab Khan held on to a regulation catch to silence the Indian fans. Kohli's departure was followed by a mini collapse as India were reduced to 54/5.

The contrasting results of the two missed chances turned the Champions Trophy 2017 final around. After India lost Kohli, they seemed to quickly lose the belief that a big total like 339 could be chased. The likes of MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh departed in quick succession. Kedar Jadhav tried to force the issue, only to race back into the hut. Hardik Pandya, who was among India’s best bowlers of the day, turned up determined to destroy the Pakistan bowling.

With the game literally out of India’s grasp, Pandya slogged his way to a fine half-century that included three consecutive sixes off Shadab Khan. Just as Pandya was beginning to raise India’s hopes, a colossal misunderstanding took place.

The misunderstanding

Ravindra Jadeja pushed Hasan Ali’s delivery to cover and Hardik Pandya set off for a non-existent run. Jadeja hadn’t called him through, but considering the ominous touch Pandya was in, the sensible thing for Jadeja to do was sacrifice his wicket. However, Jadeja stood firm as Pandya ran straight to his end.

The bails were whipped out at the non-striker’s end and India had lost their last ray of hope. Pandya was understandably emotional and made his feelings clear to Jadeja then and there. He had fought out there and kept India in it with a 43 ball 76.

The repercussions

Losing two big wickets up front pegged back India’s attempt to chase down Pakistan’s total. They had been used to a cushion platform set up by Rohit and Dhawan in the previous games, but with the former and Kohli departing quickly, the batting had turned into a complete mess. The middle-order, which was vulnerable, had never been exposed this early in the tournament. When it happened, they did not have enough firepower to stay in the contest.

In hindsight, the no-ball by Bumrah, Kohli’s wicket and Pandya’s run-out affected India badly as their hold over Pakistan in ICC tournaments took a beating.

Pakistan, on the other hand, came into the multi team event ranked no.8 and played some outstanding cricket to win four games on the trot. The highly mercurial unit showed huge improvement in the field and with the bat after their loss to India in the series opener. Their stars, Hasan Ali with the ball and Fakhar Zaman with the bat, are promising cricketers with a long career in front of them.

Pakistan fought, went down, fought again, brought in the right personnel, never stagnated and eventually emerged deserving winners. The cricketing world needs Pakistan more than Pakistan needs cricket.


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