Former Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq reminisced on Pakistan’s famous 2017 Champions Trophy title win and believes opener Fakhar Zaman’s sizzling knock against South Africa was instrumental in turning the fortunes of his side.
Pakistan, who were ranked 8th on the ICC ODI rankings heading into the tournament, started off with a humiliating 124-run loss (DLS method) to India in their opening match.
Skipper Sarfaraz Khan and coach Mickey Arthur immediately changed the playing XI with opener Fakhar Zaman and left-arm paceman Junaid Khan walking into the side. Pakistan won their next two games against South Africa and Sri Lanka to qualify for the semi-final.
“Sometimes one innings can take you down or bring you up. In the Champions Trophy, Fakhar Zaman played an innings of just 37 runs (actually 31) against South Africa, but the aggression with which he batted in that match completely changed the morale of the team. It just made everyone realise that they too can attack the opposition. The team never looked back from there as they went on to defeat Sri Lanka and then everyone came back to form and we went all the way,” Inzamam-ul-Haq said on his YouTube channel.
In the semi-final, Pakistan beat a strong England side and then ended up defeating India in the final by 180 runs to avenge their opening game loss and take home the trophy for the first time. And, Fakhar Zaman scored a brilliant hundred in the final to set up the victory.
Inzamam-ul-Haq compared Fakhar Zaman’s knock against South Africa to Kamran Akmal and Abdul Razzaq’s back-to-the-wall knocks against India in the first Test at Mohali, which Pakistan ended up drawing after trailing India by 204 runs in the first innings.
“The senior players in the dressing room like me and Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan told ourselves that if youngsters like Kamran and Razzaq can bat like this, why can’t we show some fight. Although we lost the next Test but we managed to level the series with a sensational win in the final Test in Bangalore,” the 50-year-old recounted.
Fakhar Zaman finished the ICC CT as Pakistan's highest run getter
Although Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma were the highest run-scorers for India in the tournament, Fakhar Zaman scored the most runs for Pakistan with 252 runs in four games, including a scintillating 114 in the final.
Inzamam-ul-Haq further said that when he spoke to Sarfaraz Ahmed after the team’s loss to the Indians in the first match even then they had not thought Pakistan would eventually win the title.
The Pakistan side said their only hope was to try and win the next two matches to at least reach the semi-finals. Inzamam-ul-Haq said that if juniors in the team play well, it tends to boost the morale of the senior players.
Fakhar Zaman is one of the players who tested positive in the recently conducted COVID-19 tests by Pakistan Cricket Board as they look to gear up for the upcoming tour of England.