Pakistan opener makes India pay in CT final for no ball on 3

Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman kisses the ground as he celebrates after scoring a century during the ICC Champions Trophy final between Pakistan and India at the Oval in London, Sunday, June 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

LONDON (AP) Fakhar Zaman couldn’t resist the length ball outside off stump, so he poked at it and only nicked it.

He heard the ball pouched behind him and knew he was dismissed before he’d really got started in the biggest cricket match of his life on Sunday.

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.

The replay showed medium-pacer Jasprit Bumrah overstepped. A no ball.

Fakhar got another life, and the Pakistan opener embraced it.

Not wanting to let India know he was rattled, he hit two boundaries quickly, plus a third off his helmet, and he was on his way. He ran out his fellow opener Azhar Ali while he was ball-watching after they’d made a record 128 but he shrugged that off too to earn his maiden century for Pakistan, in only his fourth one-day international, 11 days after his debut.

He was finally out in the 34th over, scoring 114 off 106 balls, including 12 boundaries and three sixes.

His century set up Pakistan’s massive total of 338-4, and they went on to dismiss India for 158. Fakhar even got in some spin bowling, stepping in when an injured Imad Wasim couldn’t finish the 20th over. Fakhar’s figures of 3.3-0-25-0 were ruined only by Hardik Pandya hitting two consecutive sixes.

Fakhar had the last laugh, as Pakistan won its first Trophy final by 180 runs, and its first global ODI title in 25 years. He was named man of the match.

”I was lucky with the no ball,” he said. ”It’s a final against India, so I just tried to enjoy the innings.

”I wasn’t feeling well yesterday, I was thinking I wouldn’t be able to play, but the physio said I would be fine in the morning. I took my time to begin with, you look at the wicket, and then play your natural game.”

Fakhar’s natural game has plundered Pakistan domestic cricket for five seasons. With the retirements of Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq, the national selectors could no longer ignore his form and he was finally summoned in March, for Twenty20s on the tour of the West Indies. He was picked for the Champions Trophy squad, missed the opening loss to India so didn’t have any nightmares to process, then scored 31, 50, and 57 to cement his place.

Even India captain Virat Kohli was impressed.

”A guy like Zaman, when players like that get going on their day, it becomes real difficult to stop them because I think 80 percent of his shots were high-risk and they were all coming off,” Kohli said. ”Sometimes you have to sit and say, `The guy is good enough on the day to tackle anything.’ You can only do so much.”