ISLAMABAD, Pakistan celebrated one of its biggest cricket victories on Sunday, defeating archrival India in the Champions Trophy final in London.
Back home, streets were deserted in the federal capital Islamabad and Rawalpindi ? and in big cities across the country ? as fans watched Pakistan thrash defending champion India by 180 runs at The Oval.
“Congratulations to Team Pakistan on their great performance in winning #CT17 And how wonderful to watch Fakhar’s raw talent in action,” Pakistan cricket great Imran Khan tweeted.
Left-hander Fakhar Zaman, playing in only his fourth ODI, smashed 114 off 106 balls and top-scored in Pakistan’s 338-4, before India crumbled to 158 all out.
The last time Pakistan won a major 50-over ICC tournament was also during Ramadan, the Muslim holy month, when Khan led his team over England in the 1992 final at Melbourne, Australia.
Wasim Akram and chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq were among the players from that famous win 25 years ago.
“Wow wow wow unbelievable performance by team green. It feels like deja’vu after winning the 1992 WCup. I am over the moon,” Akram tweeted.
Left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Amir’s three-wicket burst reminded him of his own playing days, Akram said, adding: “So proud. Pakistan played like winners and now are champions of the world. Tonight belongs to the heroes in the Green and white.”
Inzamam was equally happy.
“This is my team. This is my Pakistan. Pakistan all the way …. Congratulations! :),” he tweeted.
As soon as the sun set and people broke their religious fast back in Pakistan, large numbers came out to watch Pakistan seamers squeezing India in its run-chase.
“Our team has presented us with a best gift in the holy fasting month of Ramadan,” said Shabbir Ali Asghar, a 14-year-old student, as he watched the final with friends on television in Rawalpindi.
Special arrangements were made to broadcast the final live in community halls, cinemas and parks across Pakistan.
“Once we put up a strong total, I was more than million percent sure India can’t beat us today,” said Zahra Mehmood, a housewife.
It was a remarkable turnaround of form for Pakistan, ranked No. 8 in the eight-team tournament.
India handed Pakistan a 124-run defeat in the first group match before Pakistan defeated South Africa, Sri Lanka and then thrashed England in the semifinals to qualify for its first ever Champions Trophy final.
“Today’s win shows that no one is favorite when it comes to India v Pakistan match in international cricket,” said a beaming Mohammad Ashraf, who distributed sweets among people on a street in Rawalpindi.
“India didn’t expect to be outplayed in such a fashion,” said cricket fan Naseem Bukhari in the southern port city of Karachi. “It wasn’t in their wildest dreams. I think it’s the worst defeat that India has tasted in any international cricket tournament.”
Not many had backed Pakistan to go beyond the group stage in the Champions Trophy, but the team led by Sarfraz Ahmed enjoyed an extraordinary revival after its disastrous opener.
“After the first game I said there is a big gap between Ind & Pak these days. The gap remained in this match. Just the other way round.??” tweeted commentator Sanjay Manjrekar, a former India test cricketer.