With India and Pakistan encounters restricted to ICC tournaments, the fans from both the nations cherish the rare opportunity to see them in action. While we haven’t witnessed a bilateral series for about seven years now, it is these tournaments – the T20 World Cup, the 50-over World Cup, the ICC Champions Trophy and also the Asia Cup – that gives the world a glimpse of the arch-rivals in action. The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 was one such event, where the two teams met much to everyone’s joy. The India-Pakistan contests have produced some of the most memorable matches in cricket and given the history of the two nations and the fact that they are not on good diplomatic terms further adds to the intensity of the tie.
While India are well and truly ahead of Pakistan when it comes to their battles in the 50-over World Cups, it is not the case in the Champions Trophy. Before this contest, Pakistan had won two out of their three matches against India in the tournament – their only loss coming in the 2013 edition at Edgbaston, Birmingham – the venue for this encounter.
It was a crucial tournament especially for captains of both sides – Sarfaraz Ahmed had taken over the reins from Azhar Ali just a couple of months ahead of the tournament, while for his counterpart Virat Kohli, this was the first big tournament he would lead since he was installed as the limited-overs skipper in January 2017, taking over from MS Dhoni no less, who had guided India to the title in 2013.
The stakes were high. While Pakistan were chasing their first ICC trophy since 2009, India on the other hand needed to convince themselves that they could still go on to win big matches and tournaments without Dhoni donning the captain’s hat.
Also, just a day before the match, London witnessed a ‘terror attack’ where in a vehicle rammed into a bunch of pedestrians on the London Bridge, which saw eight people killed and 48 injured. As a result, the security all over the country, more so for this match, was beefed up.
Pakistan won the toss and amidst overcast conditions, they decided to have a bowl. Mohammad Amir and Imad Wasim kept things tight. The first boundary came only in the fifth over. Given that Rohit Sharma is susceptible to left-arm bowlers, especially the pacers, he was extra cautious early on. But he slowly started getting in on the act, while Shikhar Dhawan played second fiddle before the rain came pouring down – the first of many interruptions in the match.
After a 40-minute break play resumed with dark clouds hovering around Edgbaston, but the Indian openers looked unscathed. Rohit brought up his fifty off 71 deliveries and the duo brought up the 100-run stand in the 20th over. Luckily for India, Dhawan too was getting into the groove and also brought up his fifty shortly. Things were looking ominous for Pakistan, whose decision to bowl seemed to be backfiring.
Just when it seemed like the openers are going to run away with the game, Dhawan holed out at deep mid-wicket for a quickfire 65-ball 68. Kohli joined Rohit in the middle. The duo had put on many memorable partnerships in the past and needed one more from here to ensure India put up a formidable total on the board. The partnership was blossoming but the rain gods took offence and there was an interruption once again. Nearly 45 minutes were lost and it now turned into a 48-over contest, which meant India had just under 15 overs to bat. After smacking a six and a four off Wahab Riaz, Rohit found himself in a tangle with his skipper and was run-out for 91 off 116.
With a little over 11 overs to go, Yuvraj Singh walked in and along with Kohli started to stitch a match-altering partnership. After being dropped early on, he made Pakistan pay with some exquisite strokes around the park and took the game away. Kohli brought up his fifty off 57 flat-batting the ball over long on. Yuvraj too joined suit, bringing up his half-century off just 29 deliveries. India muscled 72 runs off their last four overs to finish at 319 for 3 – an uphill task for Pakistan.
Rain played spoilsport once again when Pakistan were 21 for no loss in the fifth over, with the match set to lose one over every four minutes. For a 20-over contest, Pakistan would have needed 173 to win the game. The game restarted 30 minutes later with Pakistan needing 289 from 41 overs – a further 267 from 217 deliveries with all 10 wickets still intact.
Four overs later, India had their first breakthrough with Ahmed Shehzad trapped in front for 12 by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Babar Azam followed him back to the hut for eight. Azhar Ali had a lucky escape when he was dropped at long-on on 46, but he was soon dismissed by Hardik Pandya for 50.
Pakistan needed to score at close to 10 with 20 overs left. They kept losing wickets at regular intervals and barring Mohammad Hafeez’s 33, no-one really stepped up and Pakistan crumbled to an embarrassing 124-run loss. Umesh Yadav was the pick of the bowlers with 3 for 30, with Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja chipping in with a couple of wickets.
Pakistan went on to win their maiden Champions Trophy crown, incidentally by beating India in the final by 180 runs
Yuvraj played just eight more ODIs for India
India continued their good run over Pakistan in World Cups, beating them by 89 runs in the 2019 edition
Later that year, Sarfaraz was sacked as Pakistan captain – Azhar Ali took over in Tests, while Babar was appointed limited-overs captain