Pakistan smash 338 vs India in Champions Trophy final

LONDON: Pakistan smashed the highest total in a Champions Trophy final — 338-4 that included a maiden century from opener Fakhar Zaman — after being made to bat first by defending champion India at The Oval on Sunday.

To retain the title, India will have to produce the highest successful run chase in Trophy history in cricket’s biggest rivalry.

Pakistan bowled first in its previous four Trophy matches, including the 124-run opening loss to India two weeks ago, and the omen wasn’t good to bat first. Only once in Trophy history has a team batting first won the final; India in 2013.

Pakistan, which has lost to India seven straight times in global tournaments, started shakily. Fakhar ought to have been out for 3 in the fourth over, caught behind, but Jasprit Bumrah delivered a no ball. Fellow opener Azhar Ali also survived run out chances on 15 and 29.

Together, they made India pay for the let-off and misses.

Fakhar and Azhar shared an opening stand of 128, their second in a row in triple digits after 118 in the semifinal win over England. After Fakhar caused Azhar to be run out on 59, he took out his frustration on India, notably spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.

Fakhar brought up his maiden century in his fourth one-day international by muscling a sweep of Ashwin for his 12th boundary. He danced to the other end, waved his bat to all parts of the packed ground, and kissed the pitch.

Ashwin, who has played more than 100 ODIs since 2010, conceded 45 runs off 33 balls to Fakhar, the most one man has taken off him in ODIs.

The sixth century in a Trophy final ended in the 34th over with Pakistan at 200-2. Fakhar was out to a nice catch on the run by Jadeja behind square. Fakhar scored 114 off 106 balls.

For once, the Pakistan middle order didn’t waste the great start.

Mohammad Hafeez, averaging 30 in the tournament, whacked 57 not out off 37 balls.

Babar Azam scored 46 off 52 balls, and Imad Wasim was 25 not out off 21.

The last 10 overs netted 91 runs, giving Pakistan’s bowlers — the team’s strength — an impressive total to defend in a bid to win its first global ODI title in 25 years.