ISLAMABAD, June 19, (AFP): Jubilant photographs of Pakistan cricket fans dancing in the streets were plastered all over national newspapers Monday after their eighth-ranked team produced a thrilling win against arch-rivals India in the Champions Trophy final.
Pakistan inflicted a massive 180-run defeat upon title-holders and favourites India at the Oval in London on Sunday to win the tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international nations.
The victory was splashed across most major newspapers, with leading English daily Dawn proclaiming: “Pakistan breaks jinx, trounce India in dream final”.
While the country’s largest paper, the Urdu-daily Jang, announced: “Pakistan Champions, trounced Indian team.”
Pakistan made 338 for four, with the cornerstone being opener Fakhar Zaman’s 114, his maiden ODI hundred. Mohammad Amir then reduced India to 33 for three by dismissing their much-vaunted top three, with Rohit Sharma out for a duck and opposing skipper Virat Kohli, the world’s top-ranked ODI batsman, falling for just five.
India eventually collapsed to 158 all out as they suffered their heaviest defeat in terms of runs in 129 ODIs against Pakistan.
Banks, government and other organisations ran full-page advertisements congratulating the team for their historic win.
In an editorial titled “Victory is sweet”, the Express Tribune said: “When you are an underdog in a high-octane tournament final and your highly-regarded opponent is the defending champion, hardly anyone has any expectations of you — except of course your cricket-mad 200 million plus compatriots.”
The News, in a piece headlined “Champions”, said: “When Pakistan was thrashed by India in its opening match of the Champions Trophy, the obituaries were already being written.
“But if there is one thing you can say about the Pakistan cricket team, it is that it exists to confound everyone.”
In India almost all print media went easy on Kohli and his team, crediting Pakistan’s performance though the front-page of the Hindustan Times screamed “Obliterated at the Oval: India humiliated by Pak.”
The Times of India proclaimed: “The Unpredictables Rise Again”.
Former India captain Ravi Shastri said: “The better team won.”
Cricket-mad Indian fans resorted to humour to sweep away the disappointment. Twitter user Prachi Dasin said “This is cheating, Fakhar Zaman is out of syllabus!”
Top industrialist Harsh Goenka sent a message to India’s foreign minister Sushma Swaraj. “11 Indians stranded in Oval, London. Madam Sushma Swaraj please rescue them,” he tweeted.
Some news channels showed handful of fans smashing a television in the street after the match — but the antics appeared to have been staged.
Pakistan have been forced to play most of their home matches overseas since a 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore. But the International Cricket Council are planning to send a World XI to play in Pakistan in September.
Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said he hoped a proposed World XI visit to the country later this year went ahead after his side served notice of their enduring talent with a stunning Champions Trophy final win over India.
Bottom-ranked Pakistan produced a breathtaking display at London’s Oval on Sunday to inflict a 180-run defeat upon arch rivals India, the title-holders, in the climax of a tournament featuring the world’s top eight one-day international nations.
With the exception of Zimbabwe’s tour two years ago, Pakistan have had to play all of their ‘home’ matches outside of the country since a 2009 terror attack on Sri Lanka’s team bus in Lahore.
However, the International Cricket Council are set to send a World XI to Pakistan in September.
That team could find themselves acting as a ‘path-finder’ for the resumption of tours of Pakistan by major cricket nations.
Giles Clarke, the president of the England and Wales Cricket Board and head of the ICC’s Pakistan task force said, in comments reported by the Guardian in March: “The desire is to give the cricket-starved Pakistani supporters the chance to see some of the world’s finest players in live action.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said he hoped his side’s stunning 180-run Champions Trophy final win over arch-rivals India would be a catalyst for the full return of international cricket to his homeland.
“I hope this win will boost Pakistan cricket and hopefully all the (major) playing nations will come to Pakistan,” said Sarfraz.
Mohammad Hafeez hailed Pakistan’s team spirit as the key to their stunning Champions Trophy final triumph against India.
Just two weeks ago, Pakistan were at a low ebb after crashing to a humiliating 124-run defeat against India in the group stage.
But Pakistan batsman Hafeez says his team-mates vowed to stick together despite the avalanche of criticism and they reaped the rewards in memorable fashion on Sunday.
Gaining sweet revenge over India, Pakistan thrashed their arch rivals by 180 runs at The Oval to win the Champions Trophy for the first time.
“It’s a great team effort. After losing the first game, we had no chance to lose again,” said Hafeez, who played an important role in the win with a classy 57 not out.
“We showed great character. I’m so happy for the nation of Pakistan who have been waiting for this for a long time.”