Mohammad Amir times Virat Kohli’s dismissal perfectly in Champions Trophy final
Mohammad Amir bowled Pakistan to their first ICC Champions Trophy at The Oval on Sunday. Even if Man of the Match Fakhar Zaman’s pugnacious maiden ODI century set up Pakistan’s impressive 338 for four, it was Amir who delivered those three killer balls that virtually ended India’s fight in what finally turned out to be a one-sided final.
“What have you done, Virat?” read one placard held up by a disappointed Indian fan after Pakistan crushed India by 180 runs to script the biggest-ever victory in a Champions Trophy final. The elderly fan was surrounded by a sea of green as most Indian supporters, who never believed Pakistan could win, had left the stadium after India plummeted to 152 for 7 following Hardik Pandya’s run out for a 43-ball 76.
Pandya pummelled the Pakistan attack with gay abandon and his four fours and six sixes (mostly against the spinners) gave the Indian dressing room its only moment of joy on a bad day at office. More importantly, Pandya’s breezy innings highlighted how India’s top batsmen squandered a great opportunity to give Pakistan a run for their money.
VIRAT KOHLI, THE HEART
No matter how many runs a Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan score, Virat Kohli remains the heart of India’s batting. Sunday was the first time Mohammad Amir got the better of Kohli in a limited-over international. The 25-year-old Amir will never forget his 54th ODI wicket in a hurry because that paved the way for Pakistan’s march towards victory. So far, Kohli has faced 24 balls and scored 20 runs with two fours in three matches against Amir.
“If we could get amongst the Indian top order early we could probably expose the middle order that hadn’t batted a fair amount, and Amir was the guy that could do that for us,” said Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur.
“In the first two games, he (Amir) didn’t get a wicket but he had bowled particularly well. We were always thinking it was one spell in somewhere, and the spell came thankfully today at the start of a final. We put India on the back foot and certainly gave us upper hand,” added Arthur.
A PLAN FOR KOHLI
Amir had clearly worked out Kohli. The biggest of batsmen are always vulnerable to any ball that is back of length, pacy and moves off the seam. Amir delivered two such deliveries in succession. The first ball flew off Kohli’s edge but Azhar Ali dropped a sitter at first slip.
Kohli played a false stroke the next ball, cross seaming and moving. The flick went to point and Pakistan players went delirious with joy.
Amir bowled all of six overs on Sunday and all in one single spell. His 6-2-16-3 had done enough damage. Pakistan needed three killer deliveries and Amir produced the magic that only he can. India never recovered from 33 for three. Pandya’s glorious innings was only like a shooting star.
Amir’s wickets reflected his personality. He has conquered personal setbacks after being banned from cricket for five years due to match-fixing. So, emerging triumphant on a big day is probably child’s play. He reserved his best for the last and India happened to be at the receiving end.
“Mohammad Amir is a big-match player. I do know that when the game is on the line and the bigger the game, the more he performs, the more amped up he gets,” said Arthur.
“He doesn’t shy away from pressure situations. He doesn’t shy away from big games. He’s got proper big-match temperament, and he showed that today on the biggest stage,” the Pakistan coach said.
Virat Kohli will not contest that statement.