Michael Hussey : Underdogs Pakistan played at their best in the final

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Michael Hussey : Underdogs Pakistan played at their best in the final

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SportsCafe Desk


Former Australian batsman Micheal Hussey feels that underdogs Pakistan were deserved to be the champion of the CT and they played their best cricket in the final. Hussey also added that tournament plays are about peaking at the right time and Pakistan did just that to clinch their maiden title.

"Pakistan was the underdog coming into the final but there was a feeling of destiny about it. Tournament play is all about peaking at the right time and after a poor start to the tournament, most pundits gave it no chance of winning," Hussey wrote in his column for ICC.

"However, by the time it lifted the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at The Oval, it was undoubtedly playing its best cricket. Huge congratulations need to go to Mickey Arthur, Sarfraz Ahmed, the support staff and players for showing great character and turning the team's fortunes around."

Pakistan entered as the lowest-ranked team in the tournament and went on to lift the Champions Trophy title. Hussey noted that the top teams in the cricketing world have the ability to beat anyone and everyone.

"...top teams in the world are very close and anyone can be beaten on a given day. This was shown with Pakistan, which came into the tournament ranked eighth and went all the way through to win the final," he said.

Pakistan's strength in the tournament was its bowling and Hasan Ali emerged as the highest wicket-taker with 13 wickets to his name at an astounding average of 14.69. On the other hand, Mohammad Amir played a pivotal role in the final dismissing the dangerous Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma to dismantle the Indian top-order. Fakhar Zaman made a dream debut for the Pakistani side scoring two half-centuries and a century in the crucial final. 

"Its bowling attack was brilliant with Mohammad Amir and Junaid Khan contributing well throughout the tournament but the emergence of a couple of newer players in Hasan Ali and Fakhar Zaman, who scored a brilliant century in the final, is exciting for the future for Pakistan." noted Hussey.

Shikhar Dhawan continued his exploits in yet another ICC tournament and bagged the man of the tournament award for his 338 runs scored at a strike rate of 101.80. India's bowling line-up spearheaded by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah also performed exceptionally well with Kumar having an economy rate of 4.63 while Bumrah giving away just five runs in an over. Hussey heaped praises on the Indian side for their performance in the tournament.

"India has a batting order that every team would be envious of, with Shikhar Dhawan's love affair of batting in England continuing, but it also has a somewhat unheralded bowling attack that has been very effective," he wrote.

"Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah form a great combination who complement each other very well, and the spin options of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja keep the pressure on in the middle overs. There is a nice blend of youth and experience in this Indian team."

England played brilliantly to reach the semi-finals of the tournament undefeated and Hussey suggested that the English team might emerge as one of the favourites to win the 2019 World Cup.

"England has shown plenty of improvement in the last two years and should come into the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 as one of the favourites," he wrote.

"The fearless brand of cricket it is playing is exciting to watch and it have some real quality in the squad that should only get better in the future. Ben Stokes has emerged as one of, if not, the best all-rounders in the world."

Speculations are doing rounds that this might have been the last Champions Trophy tournament and the upcoming events would be scraped at the expense of World Twenty20 tournaments. The issue is to be discussed in the ongoing ICC Annual General Meeting in London. However, the former Australian batsman dismissed the idea of scraping the tournament citing the example of the quality of the game played in the recent edition.

"This Champions Trophy was an excellent tournament with some high quality one-day cricket played that has created plenty of interest around the world. I feel that a tournament like this should end the debate about the future of ODI cricket.

"This is a fantastic form of the game ... I believe as long as the matches have context, then there is a place for all three forms of the game to survive and thrive in the future," he wrote.

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