It has been one year since Pakistan defeated India by 180 runs in the 2017 Champions Trophy final. Not many gave Pakistan a chance as they had just about qualified for the tournament.
Then in their first match of the tournament in England, Pakistan lost to India by 124 runs which lowered expectations to next to zero. But thereafter, Pakistan staged a stunning turnaround by defeating South Africa, Sri Lanka and England to reach the final. There, they came up with the best performance of the tournament as Fakhar Zaman hit a mesmerising century to help Sarfraz Ahmed’s men post 338 for four before pace ace Mohammad Amir snared the scalps of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli to seal the match and the title.
So where are Pakistan’s Champions Trophy heroes now? We take a look at their performances.
The sky seemed to be the limit for the left-handed batsman after his stunning assault in the final. But Zaman hasn’t set the stage alight in white ball cricket since. In nine matches, Zaman has scored 298 runs at an average of 37 with two fifties. It’s decent but not great when you look at the top four batsmen in the same period – Rohit Sharma, Jonny Bairstow, Shikhar Dhawan and Jason Roy – are all averaging around 50 or more.
His T20 record has improved, scoring 342 runs from 14 matches at a strike rate of 140. Zaman picked up a thigh injury in New Zealand in January.
The right-arm fast bowler has improved an already impressive ODI bowling record. Since the Champions Trophy, where he was the star of the tournament for Pakistan with his pace and explosive celebrations, Hasan has taken 20 wickets in nine matches at an economy of 4.8.
He has done equally well in T20s, taking 13 wickets in 11 matches even though the economy is a bit high – 8.1.
However, the pacer got into a bit of a tangle early in the year when captain Sarfraz Ahmed admonished him during the second T20 in New Zealand and he shrugged his skipper off.
Arguably, the biggest gain for Pakistan in all formats in the last 12 months. The leg-spinner has quickly developed into an all-condition bowler and his batting has come up by leaps and bounds.
In 10 ODIs since the CT final, Shadab has picked up 15 wickets with an improved economy of 4.5 and average of 24. In T20s, he has 17 wickets from 14 matches at a slightly more expensive economy of 6.6.
However, it’s his batting that has been really good. Shadab scored three critical fifties in three successive Tests against Ireland and England to emerge as one of the more promising all-rounders in the world.
It has been quite a ride for the Pakistan skipper. While he has taken Pakistan to the top of the T20 rankings, the team has been decent in ODIs and unpredictable in Tests. In the last 12 months, Pakistan have won two and lost three Tests, won five and lost as many ODIs. It included a 2-0 Test series defeat to Sri Lanka in the UAE.
Their T20 record is brilliant with 12 wins from 14 matches.
Personally, Sarfraz has been poor in ODIs, averaging an abysmal 14. The Pakistan team is still in a rebuilding phase and there will be tougher challenges ahead, the main one being consistency in all formats.
The left-arm pace ace is beginning to show signs of fatigue. Playing non-stop in all formats since his comeback in 2016, Amir has started to manage his workload and has even talked about playing fewer Tests in order to prolong his career. He endured a knee injury and shoulder pain during the Ireland and England Tests, underlining his importance to the team.
His bowling figures for the last 12 months are not that impressive. In five Tests, Amir has picked up 13 wickets and has just two wickets in four ODIs (5.1 econ). His T20 record is excellent – 13 wickets from seven matches at an economy of 5.88. Maybe that’s the way forward for him.