Published: Tue, June 20, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Champions Trophy: Sarfraz Ahmed wants cricket to return to Pakistan

Champions Trophy: Sarfraz Ahmed wants cricket to return to Pakistan

Fakhar capitalised on a lucky escape to strike a superb 114 and lift Pakistan to a commanding total of 4-338 and fast bowler Amir ripped out India's top three batsmen before the defending champions subsided to 158 all out. His domestic performances in the Pakistan One-Day Cups of 2016 and 2017 were exceptional where he was the second and fourth highest run-scorer respectively. It was after Ali's dismissal in the 23rd over, for a 71-balll 59 - via a run out, that Zaman - playing his fourth global innings, switched gears and set Pakistan on course for a sizable total. Ali joined in and the duo hit five fours in the next three overs. The final flourish was provided by veteran Mohammed Hafeez (57 off 37) with help of four boundaries and three sixes.

"I have played with Amir since 2007", revealed Imad Wasim, the Pakistan all-rounder. "It's a final against India, so I just tried to enjoy the innings".

Shikhar Dhawan, who had hitherto had a fine time in England, followed Kohli, edging Amir behind for 21. It was a beauty of a cross seamer with extra bounce.

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Yuvraj Singh was lbw to leg-spinner Shadab and former captain MS Dhoni, the hero of many an India rescue mission, holed out in the deep. If it weren't for Kedar Jadhav's golden arm, Bangladesh would've scored over 320. Hardik Pandya swatted six sixes off spin and got himself 76 off 43 balls, giving India - six down now - a microscopic speck of hope. Saeed Ajmal was bowled first ball, and new man Junaid Khan got off the mark with a single, giving Shahid Afridi the strike against offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Left-arm fast bowler Amir, whose career was nearly ended on the other side of London's River Thames by a ban and jail term he received for his part in a spot-fixing scam during a 2010 Test against England at Lord's, was superb. He showed signs of moving the ball.

Fakhar Zaman couldn't resist the length ball outside off stump, so he poked at it and only nicked it. Soon the openers faced the Indian pacers comfortably.

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Replays showed, however, that Bumrah had overstepped. There after the Pakistan openers were in full flow, refusing to commit any mistakes. India were always a bowler light. Ali hit him over long off for a six to announce he was determined to take on the bowlers.

He shared a fluent century opening partnership with Azhar Ali (59), the pair unleashing a barrage of crisp attacking strokes all around a sun-kissed ground. There were inside edges, a boundary off the helmet, a couple of wild heaves that evaded fielders; but nothing rattled Zaman.

Although the tweet of Pandya can be referred to Jadeja who apparently could be blamed for his run-out at a time when he was steering India in the best possible manner but a dropped catch of Fakhar Zaman could also be on his mind. A desperate Indian skipper Virat Kohli - wanting to stem the run flow - introduced Ravindra Jadeja in the 16th over. Arthur replied: "Yeah. But look, it's not about me and my career, it's about 15 unbelievable players in that dressing room who have been absolutely fantastic for the last one year".

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