Azhar Ali’s reflections on dropping Kohli during 2017 CT Final.

Sanjay Bangar

Virat Kohli has a track record of successfully chasing targets, especially against his favourite rival, Pakistan. Kohli has scored 22 of his 46 ODI hundreds in successful run-chases for India, making him a master in this field. However, during the Champions Trophy final of 2017 against Pakistan, Kohli failed to perform. He returned to the pavilion after scoring just 5 runs off 9 balls. During Kohli’s brief innings, he received a life on the eighth ball after being dropped by Azhar Ali in the first slip. Ali, a former Pakistan cricketer, recently disclosed that he felt burdened with pressure as soon as he dropped India’s premier batter on the big stage. He feared criticism from the entire country if Kohli were to score big and take India home.

Fortunately for Ali, the then-Indian captain was dismissed on the very next ball. Kohli got a leading edge against Mohammed Amir, which went straight to Shadab Khan at point.

“I saw it in reality. Between that drop catch and his dismissal, plenty of things flashed before my eyes. It felt as if I have been burdened with weight and pressure, and that the entire world is watching me asking as if ‘Look what he’s done’. That was my feeling and I thought ‘God forbid, if he does what he is famous for… if he chases this down – he scores a lot in chases – my house will get vandalised’. Fortunately, I was just thinking about all these scenarios and he got out the next ball,”

Azhar said.

Fakhar Zaman had a dream that he got off a no-ball: Azhar Ali

In the game against India, Fakhar Zaman was the top performer for Pakistan, scoring an impressive 114 off 106 deliveries. He got a reprieve early on his innings when Jasprit Bumrah dismissed him on a no-ball. Interestingly, Zaman had dreamt of the same incident a few days before the final.

Pakistan set a monumental target of 339/4, and India was bundled out for just 158. Mohammed Amir was the star bowler with figures of 3/16 in 6 overs. Hardik Pandya showed some resistance with his knock of 76 off 43 balls. But was dismissed due to miscommunication with Ravindra Jadeja.

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