The stage was set for the mother of all battles on 18 June 2017 at The Oval. A very confident India took the field in the final of the Champions Trophy with many predicting a convincing victory for Virat Kohli’s side. What the Indian think-tank did not include in their calculations was the sheer brilliance and unwavering determination of one man, Fakhar Zaman. On a day when fortune favoured the brave, Fakhar hit 114 runs in an innings which defied all odds, thereby instantly catapulting him to the status of a national hero for Pakistan with his side trouncing their arch-rivals by 180 runs to win the title.
A former Pakistan Navy employee, Fakhar Zaman’s penchant to take on bowlers without fear has become his trademark and earned him plaudits from all quarters. Later on, he bettered his previous high score of 114 in a ODI with a double-century against a hapless Zimbabwe and became the first Pakistani to achieve this honour and sixth in the world to do so.
His fortunes since those heady days have wavered a bit with some below par-performances in the Asia Cup but a total of 1442 runs in 31 ODI games for his country and an average of 53.40 tells a story of immense promise and huge potential. With England a happy hunting ground for Pakistan in historical terms, it is this ability to score runs at breakneck speed that Mickey Arthur and Sarfaraz Ahmed will be counting on when Fakhar takes the field once again in England for the ODI series against England and then in the real test versus the best during the World Cup.
If Fakhar Zaman can repeat his heroics of the summer of 2017 to help his side to their second World title, he will be elevated to a legendary status by the cricket-mad fans of Pakistan.