We knew we were prepared well.
His words spurted out hurriedly, urgently, nearly desperately.
"We have had youngsters benefiting from PSL".
It was hard not to feel for him. What took a weird turn was the press conference, post the match.
"We have no hesitation or shame to admit we didn't play our best game today". But then, cricket or for that matter, any sports, is a great leveler. In Pakistan, cricket still being the number one sport today is as much a statement of survival and defiance as anything else. Credit goes to my batsmen, my bowlers and the team management. They'd also lost Afridi, whatever role he fit in that team. Team was in a dilapidated condition, literally, and its massive loss to India in its first match of the tournament only stamped that.
He emphatically defended his decision to play two spinners despite them going for 147 runs in 18 overs during the second Powerplay. "However, by the time it lifted the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 at The Oval, it was undoubtedly playing its best cricket", he added. It doesn't always happen when a team written-off by experts at the very start of a big tournament goes on to win it like a true champion.More news: 62 die in forest fire still raging in Portugal
While Pakistan won the finals, Kohli's gesture won hearts not only in India but also in Pakistan. That, coming into this tournament, the entire Pakistan squad of fifteen had scored fewer runs against the white ball than Dhoni, Kohli and Yuvraj.
It was exactly two weeks ago when the Virat Kohli-led side thrashed Pakistan by 124 runs in their opening match of the eight-team marquee event at Edgbaston.
The South Asians arrived in Britain for the eight-team, one-day worldwide tournament as the lowest-ranked side, packed with players still trying to find their feet at the highest level and given little hope of emerging victorious. ─ AP Pakistan team prostrate in thanks after their Champions Trophy win.
Between overs 11 and 40, they have claimed 19 wickets from the three group games, more than any other side.
"To be appointed as captain of the Team of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, which includes some of the finest and most attractive cricketers of this generation, is the flawless icing on the cake", Sarfraz told the ICC website. It's going to be harder still because the generation most likely to supply fresh talent will have spent its formative years in a country under an global lockout and will take some time to catch back up.
Out for 3 in the fourth over of the Champions Trophy final, he walked away from the celebrating Indians then stopped to watch the replay on the video screen at The Oval. And if there's one thing still reliably Pakistani about this team, it's that if they get enough runs to defend, their fast bowlers will take your lunch money. "I'm so happy", said Babar Khan, selling mangoes out of a pushcart.