Champions Trophy 2017: Amir redemption part of wonderful Pakistan story
|Champions Trophy final, The Oval|
|Pakistan 338-4 (50 overs): Fakhar 114, Azhar 59, Hafeez 57*|
|India 158 all out (30.3 overs): Pandya 76, Amir 3-16, Hasan 3-19|
|Pakistan won by 180 runs|
Before the Champions Trophy final, some people were saying that the best hope for Pakistan was to make a game of it before India's inevitable triumph.
That Pakistan then demolished India by 180 runs to win a global 50-over title for the first time since 1992 - when they defeated England in the World Cup final - is a big upset.
This success reminds me of that Imran Khan side in that, on both occasions, Pakistan gained a lot of late momentum and won a tournament that they looked like going out of.
It just shows what happens when a team gets on a roll.
Pakistan were horrible in losing their first match against India, but a fresh approach saw them improve and steadily gain in confidence.
By the end, they peaked at the right time.
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The win in the final was built around the performances of two men - one who already has quite a history in this team and one who has only played four one-day internationals.
Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, who made his debut in this tournament, has been a revelation and his 114 at The Oval was a wonderful innings.
I believe that an aggressive left-handed opener can be a real asset in one-day cricket, because these guys can find so many different ways to hurt you.
They can hit the ball anywhere from behind point on the off side to deep mid-wicket on the leg.
Think of men like Chris Gayle, Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist. Fakhar is not an imposing character, but he's wiry, he has a fantastic eye and he gives it a real go.
India were not the only team to suffer from his aggression.
England were defending a small total in their semi-final and, once they were hit by Fakhar, the game sprinted away from them. It is his instinct to attack, allowing the others to play around him.
While Fakhar set the tone with the bat, the bowling attack was led by Mohammad Amir.
We are seven years on from the spot-fixing offences committed at Lord's that ultimately cost Amir five years of his career.
This Champions Trophy final almost feels like the completion of his return.
The left-armer took three wickets - three huge wickets. Openers Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, either side of the massive scalp of Virat Kohli, a ball after having the same man dropped at slip.
Amir was pretty much world class at the age of 18, filled to the brim with potential. Now he is a bowler who will win many, many matches for Pakistan.
Just imagine how good he might be now if he had not been so stupid in 2010. Five years is an awful lot of development to miss.
He perhaps doesn't swing the ball quite as a much as he did when he was a teenager, but he may have sacrificed that in order to add a little pace.
His attitude in this tournament has been excellent, that of a man who has moved on from the problems of his past.
Is it redemption for Amir? I suppose it is. There were people who did not want him back in the game but, now he is back, he will be a high-class performer. Good luck to him.
This is not only a wonderful story for Amir, but for the whole of Pakistan cricket.
Their problems are well-documented, but their list of achievements are worth repeating.
They still cannot play international matches at home because of fears over security and yet, a year on from topping the world Test rankings in this country, here they are winning a global tournament.
As a team, they may not always feel like they receive a great deal of goodwill, yet I firmly believe that we in England have so much affection for them because of the way they play.
They can be magnificent one day and utterly atrocious the next.
Therefore the challenge for coach Mickey Arthur is the same as every man that has gone before him - make Pakistan consistent, because when they play as they have here, they are the best.
As for India, they will feel very similar to how England did after they were beaten in the semi-final - like they have been hit by a battering ram. Two teams that were highly fancied were beaten and ended up with bitter disappointment.
It some ways, that will be the way in which I will remember this tournament, for the surprise results - let us not forget that Bangladesh also made their first major semi-final.
There has been wonderful fielding, batsmen just seem to get better and better and there has been bowling to enjoy - especially when Pakistan get the ball in hand.
At times, this tournament has been difficult, because it has been played against the backdrop of some truly awful events in our country. It is so sad that many matches began with a minute's silence and it has been uncomfortable to be thinking about sport in some terrible times.
However, people can sometimes look to sport for reassurance. Its presence is a sign that everyday life goes on.
Sport can be a huge boost to morale. Maybe that was the case on a sun-kissed Sunday at The Oval.