England beat Pakistan to win ICC World T20 title for the second time.
Thirty years ago, at this very stage, in a relatively longer version of the game, an Imran Khan-inspired Pakistan wrote their most memorable cricket moment, breaking a plethora of English hearts.
On that fateful night in 1992 at Melbourne Cricket Ground, England’s hopes of winning their first cricket world cup were dashed by an inspired Pakistan.
Three decades later, at the same venue, the pendulum of fortune swung in England’s favour as they recorded a five-wicket win over mercurial Pakistan, who crumbled under the weight of expectations, to register their second ICC T20 World title on Sunday.
The tone of the final was set by England’s bowlers – led by an unassuming Sam Curran, who leads England’s bowling charge in the tournament.
While the southpaw, who ended the tournament with 13 wickets, made his name as a death overs specialist. But on Sunday, he gave England the breakthrough with the crucial wicket of Mohammad Rizwan.
Pakistan paid the same penalty that India did for failing to pace the innings. Shan Masood tried but perished while trying to outthink Curran. Skipper Babar Azam offered a return catch to Adil Rashid and the rest just crumbled when tested.
Even with The Falcon Shaheen Shah Afridi on their side, a total of 137 for eight was never going to be enough. He needed runs to defend.
As clouds gathered over the Big G, a defiant Afridi gave a glimmer of hope with the wicket of Alex Hales, and Haris Rauf was quick to remove Phil Salt and England skipper Jos Buttler.
Stokes, now a senior member controlling the exuberance of youth, stood tall when the team needed him. Crucial partnerships with Harry Brook and Moeen Ali ensured they reached home with time to spare.
Pakistan, on the other hand, was left wondering what would have happened if they had dealt with The Falcon more effectively. What if Afridi had not hobbled out in the middle of the game?
PS: For those who were questioning Sam Curran. Perhaps India’s beloved former captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni can explain this better to Indian fans. But for now, he is the player of the tournament as well as the player of the match.
BRIEF SCORE: Pakistan 137/8 (Shan Masood 38, Babar Azam 32, Shadab Khan 20; Sam Curran 3/12, Adil Rashid 2/22, Chris Jordan 2/27) lost to England 138/5 (Ben Stokes 52*, Jos Buttler 26; H Rauf 2/23) by 5 wickets