Pakistan batsman Mohammad Hafeez dedicated his side’s stunning thrashing of fierce rivals India in the Champions Trophy final to the public of his homeland who have been deprived cricket for the best part of a decade.
Holders India were destroyed at the Kia Oval as Fakhar Zaman struck a clinical ton and fellow opener Azhar Ali and Hafeez weighed in with half-centuries in Pakistan’s total of 338-4.
Seamer Mohammad Amir then ripped through India’s top order to leave them reeling at 54-5. They never recovered and eventually limped to 158 all out as Pakistan, conquerors of England in the semi-final, sealed their first global 50-over title since the 1992 World Cup.
Aside from one series against Zimbabwe, Pakistan have had to play home internationals at neutral venues since an attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore in 2009, something not lost on Hafeez in the moment of victory.
“We wanted to inspire the whole nation because we have been missing this for the last nine years with no cricket at home,” said Hafeez. “I think this is something we wanted to do because the millions of people at home were waiting for this.
“It’s a great, great team effort from where we came from because we knew after losing the first game [in the group stage to India], we were nowhere.
“And then we just showed great, great character and I am really happy because it’s all for the nation of Pakistan because they’ve been waiting for such a long time.”
Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur praised his side’s resolve after they recovered from that 124-run hammering by India at Edgbaston to win effectively four knockout matches in succession.
“It’s been an up and down ride for us but I’m just so proud of the boys,” said Arthur, whose side began the tournament No8 in the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) one-day rankings. “We dusted ourselves off after the defeat to India at Edgbaston and came back superbly.
“The whole group kept believing. We knew we’d prepared well, we knew that game was an aberration, we knew we were better than that. So to dust ourselves off and come back from that was a remarkable achievement.”
Fakhar, a former sailor in the Pakistan navy, underpinned his side’s innings with a classy century after being handed a reprieve on just three when he was caught behind off a Jasprit Bumrah no-ball.
The 27-year-old proceeded to share a 128-run opening stand with Azhar before posting his maiden one-day international century, brought up in 92 balls. He eventually departed for 114.
Hafeez struck an unbeaten 57 from 37 balls and Babar Azam amassed 46 as Pakistan chalked up 338 – a total deemed eminently gettable on a run-filled surface. But that was far from the case.
India’s wickets tumbled with alarming regularity. Amir, who served a five-year ban for spot-fixing, trapped Rohit Sharma lbw, had India skipper Virat Kohli caught at point and forced Shikhar Dhawan to edge behind.
Once Yuvraj Singh departed leg before and MS Dhoni holed out to Imad Wasim off paceman Hasan Ali, who finished with 3-19, India were in deep trouble at 54-5.
All-rounder Hardik Pandya smashed a 32-ball half-century – the quickest in an ICC final – to give India’s chase a degree of respectability, but the day belonged to Pakistan.