Team India tasted defeat only for the second time in four finals in the Champions Trophy encounter and we suffered seventh defeat in nine finals against the Pakistan side overall. So, we have final fever catching up and fizzle out without much fight and lost by 180 runs to our arch rivals. It was a fine picturesque setting at the Oval and there was no fear of rain interrupting the game. Instead of batting first Indian skipper Kohli opted to field and paid heavy price for complacency. Kohli-Kumble feud on the eve of Champions Trophy 2017 had a direct impact on team selection and the morale of the side was low when the team lost to Sri Lanka despite scoring 300 plus runs.
Instead of putting up a big total and imposing pressure on opposition Team India choked on the fateful final day. We still remember how Kapil Dev took India from 17 for 5 on a Tunbridge Wells against Zimbabwe in the 1983 World Cup league game. That was a fine exhibition of batting under trying conditions. We have bunch of players who played without a plan and the blame was squarely put on bowlers. Kohli failed to take a gamble and followed his regular routine of changing bowlers and the move boomeranged in the end. Bhuvaneshwar Kumar bowled well in patches, whereas Jasprit Bumrah was off colour throughout. This put additional pressure on spinners to perform and they failed miserably. Both batting and fielding was below par.
First of all, it was a tactical mistake to chase as we have failed to win 14 finals on the trot in the past, when the fab four were in the side. Sachin Tendulkar, the superstar could score hardly 200 odd runs in the 14 finals as an opener. For chasing a big total like the one put up by Pakistan, we need to shuffle batting order and less talented batsmen should be promoted up and see whether they can take up the score to certain level so that the regulars can go on a hitting spree when it really matters. Kohli and company failed to capitalize on the big moment and surrendered meekly.
Thus Team India lacked the intensity and played into the hands of Pakistan without semblance of fight. We can fight and go near the target rather making ourselves a laughing stock in front of the knowledgeable English crowd. Again, players like Yuvraj Sing and Ravindra Jadeja failed to cash on the opportunities given to them as left handers are gifted and can change the course of the game very well. Pandya made a quickfire 76 when the Indian ship was destined to sink. Both Dinesh Karthik and Umesh Yadav should have included in the side alongside Ashwin.
Agility of our fielders is a question mark as fielders like Rohit Sharma, Shikar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav all struggled when the going was good for Pakistani team. The openers could not last long to put a brave fight and the likes of Ashwin should have been promoted to go in and kill the pace of Amir instead of sending the sacrificial goats up in the order.
Pakistan played to a plan as Fakhar Zaman scored 114 and well supported by Azhar Ali (59) added 128 runs for the opening wicket and the Indian bowling lacked imagination. Later on the run flow was sustained by the batsmen followed the duo and a score of 300 plus score was on at the half way period of the Pakistani innings. We lacked the will to win and chase the big total and the end was in sight when the first wicket had gone for 0. The team never recovered from the shock and we were bundled out for 158 with Amir-Ali combine claiming six wickets between them. Team India was over confident and failed at the altar after a surgical strike by the Pakistani team.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)