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June 19, 2017

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Players celebrate the triumph 

Players celebrate the triumph 

LONDON: Eight years ago, on a pleasant summer evening ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’ rang out across Lord’s as Younis Khan and his men celebrated winning the World Twenty20 championship. 

On Sunday, it was The Oval’s turn to turn green as Sarfraz Ahmed lead Pakistan’s victory celebrations after his team turned its much-anticipated Champions Trophy final into a mismatch that they won by 180 runs. 

It was an astonishing role-reversal as less than a fortnight ago, Pakistan were on the receiving end of a one-sided Indo-Pak encounter at Edgbaston. 

But that loss was forgotten like a distant nightmare on Sunday as Pakistan celebrated their biggest 50-over title since the 1992 World Cup triumph in Australia.  They were celebrating a stunning victory against India, the defending champions who were favourites to retain the title. 

With rookie opener Fakhar Zaman hitting a maiden hundred and left-arm pacer bowling a heart-stopping new-ball spell, Pakistan just shrugged aside the Indians to win their first ever Champions Trophy title. 

Sarfraz Ahmed, the man who has quickly turned an under-achieving bunch of players into a winning unit, hailed his boys for the tremendous victory. 

He also underlined the team’s never-say-die approach saying that Pakistan have showed character by bouncing back from the 124-run defeat against India to win the title. 

“After the (previous) India match, I told my boys that the tournament hasn’t finished yet,” he said. “I think it’s a very proud moment for me, and my team and my country. 

I want to thank the people of Pakistan. Keep supporting us and keep praying for us,” he added. Sarfraz hailed his young players. “I think he’s [Fakhar Zaman] a great impact player. 

Credit goes to him, he was playing his first ICC event, and he played like a champion player.  I also want to give credit to my bowlers. 

Amir bowled brilliantly in the tournament, and so did Junaid, Shadab, Imad and Hasan. 

“It’s a very young team and credit goes to them and the management. It’s a very important boost for us to win this tournament. Indian captain Viral Kohli was gracious in defeat. 

“I want to congratulate Pakistan, they had an amazing tournament, the way they turned things around, speak volumes for the talent they have,” he said. 

“They proved it again, they can upset anyone on their day, disappointing for us but I have a smile on my face because we played well to reach the final. Credit to them they outplayed us today in all departments. This is what happens in sport. We can’t take anyone lightly but they were more intense and passionate on the day.”

 Mohammad Hafeez, who hit a whirlwind fifty, said that his team was happy to have delivered a great win. “We were in the knockout stage but no one gave us a chance. The way we showed character, this is for the nation. They have been waiting for this for a long, long time. 

This is the least we could do.” Shoaib Malik, the former Pakistan captain was speechless. 

“It’s tough to describe this feeling in words. Back home, I’m sure roads will be blocked,” he said with a big smile. Mickey Arthur, meanwhile, reminded his team that a bigger challenge – World Cup 2019 – awaits them. 

“We want to be a little more consistent as a team. We’ve got a group of young players who are fantastic. We have to keep this momentum going. We’re happy with the brand of cricket we’re playing. We’ve got two years until the 2019 World Cup. We’ve got the monkey off our back in terms of qualifying. We now have two years to identify a squad we want to take forward and give them enough game time. That’s the aim at the moment,” the Pakistan coach said. 

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