India suffered probably its most humiliating defeat with Pakistan in ODI history when it got thrashed by a whopping 180 runs in the final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy at the Oval in England.
It was like watching an Australia-Ireland match, such was the mismatch. Batting first, Pakistan set up a mammoth victory target of 339 on the back of a scintillating century by the unheralded Fakhar Zaman.
India were playing in their sixth ICC tournament ODI final in the new millennium, while Pakistan was playing its first. India was a team full of superstars in sizzling form, while Pakistan looked totally uncertain in the first half of the tournament.
It was the perfect David versus Goliath match. Goliath looked invincible and David slayed Goliath easily with one stroke in the end. Indian fans were bitterly disappointed that Team India did not even put up a semblance of a fight. The fast bowling unit failed.
The spinners failed. The batting unit totally collapsed.
Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli together had scored more than 850 runs in the tournament. Alas, their combined scores in the finals barely made a quarter century.
Even the big hitters MS Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh and Kedar Jadhav together could muster up barely 35 runs between them. At one stage we were at 72-6 and it looked as if we would fold within 100, but Hardik Pandya saved us the blushes with a 43-ball 76. He could at best postpone the inevitable.
We could not even last 31 overs!
The Asian troika completes the troika
India became the first country to complete the ICC tournament troika in 2007. It won the ODI World Cup in 1983, the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 and the T20 World Cup in 2007. Sri Lanka became the first country to emulate India in 2014.
The Lankans won the ODI World Cup in 1996, the ICC Champions Trophy in 2002 and the T20 World Cup in 2014. Now thanks to Pakistan, Asia has achieved a hat-trick of hat-tricks. Our arch enemy won the ODI World Cup in 1992, the T20 World Cup in 2009 and the ICC Champions Trophy in 2017.
The ODI scene is fast turning into an Australasia affair. Australasia has won the last four Champions Trophies. Australasia has won all the ODI World Cups from 1983-2015.
Pakistan gets a new batch of heroes
Pakistan has faced a rotten 2010s in the ODI scene and seen a lot of churn. They were ranked No. 8 before this tournament and seemed to have absolutely no chance of winning.
But boy did they turn it around! Sarfraz Ahmed is Pakistan's new captain courageous and becomes only the second captain since Imran Khan to win an ODI ICC tournament. Interestingly Sarfraz also won the 2006 Under-19 World Cup and at that time too he beat India in the final!
Fakhar Zaman scored the first ODI century of his career and what a way to do it! Fast bowler Hasan Ali continued with the glorious tradition of Pakistani fast bowling and emerged as the highest wicket taker of the tournament.
The importance of Kapil and Dhoni
India has just won four ICC tournament finals. Kapil Dev was the captain in 1983 while MS Dhoni was the captain in 2007, 2011 and 2013. No other captain has been able to manage the feat. Note: The 2002 ICC Champions Trophy final was cancelled due to rain and the trophy was shared.
Virat Kohli failed to do so in his first attempt, but he may yet get a chance if the T20 World Cup takes place in 2018 and of course there is the 2019 ODI World Cup.
Never won a final under a non-Cong Govt at the Centre!
In 1983 Indira Gandhi was Prime Minister. In 2007, 2011 and 2013 it was Manmohan Singh. Even when we won the 1985 Benson & Hedges World Series (called the mini World Cup), Rajiv Gandhi was Prime Minister.
Our only hockey World Cup also came in 1975 when Indira was Prime Minister. All our hockey Olympic gold medals came under Congress governments. Even Abhinav Bindra won an Olympic gold when Manmohan was Prime Minister.
It seems we can’t win an ICC tournament final, a hockey World Cup or Olympic gold unless there is a Congress government at the Centre!
With the way it’s going in the national political scene, we may never have a Congress government at the Centre!