Surreal Pakistani performance in the CT final dazzles the world

Ex-Indian captain Saurav Ganguly gives India a 73% winning chance. The bookies somewhat agree and give 1/3 for betting on Pakistan. India are clear favourites.

Meanwhile, the Pakistani public, the social media, and the entire nation do what they know best. They pray a little harder.

First conundrum of the morning: win the toss and bat? Or bowl?

Pakistan cannot chase well, and well, India can chase anything. Looks like a flat pitch, but a fresh one. For Virat, it is simple: win the toss, bowl first. For Sarfraz, probably a good toss to lose. He could have very easily fallen into the death trap of chasing a big total in a massive final against India.

Pakistani openers Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman start the proceedings. First over is a maiden by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. India have done their homework. They bowl a tight line to Fakhar and give him no width. India are prepared. They are wired to win. They are facing Fakhar for the first time, but they know he likes width. They give him none.

Fakhar has been pegged on the stumps for eight deliveries and then Bumrah floats one outside off. Fakhar follows it and edges to Dhoni behind the stumps. But Pakistani prayers intervene and the first signs of magic appear. Bumrah has overstepped, it’s a No Ball. Fakhar gets a life.

It is the start of lady luck playing in Pakistan’s favour. Inside edge goes for four, outside edges go for four, and it even races off the helmet for four. India miss clear run out chances against both Pakistani openers. And luck continues favouring the brave.

Fans express their enthusiasm for the match with placards. — AFP
Fans express their enthusiasm for the match with placards. — AFP

Fakhar and Azhar take their chances, keep stealing quick singles and flash their bats at anything on offer. But it is not just boom-boom, bam-bam Pakistani batting. They have a plan too. They have targeted men in their minds. They know whom they are going after today.

Ashwin, who was not picked for the first game against Pakistan, bowls the eighth over. And Azhar charges down the ground and smashes Ashwin out of the park for a six.

The tone is set. Pakistan will attack Indian spin.

Pakistan blow punches, but are also circumspect. India feel the heat, and their fielding standards drop a notch. Fakhar hits straight to Yuvraj Singh but it goes through him to the boundary for four as Fakhar gets to his third consecutive fifty.

Is Fakhar the opener Pakistan has been searching for? Three fifties in four games with a career strike rate of 113 – so far, so good. Keep going, lad.

They run hard and take risks, till they are caught ball watching. Azhar is finally run out and is visibly upset. Some of the blame for the blunder is on Fakhar, but most of it is on lack of communication.

Azhar Ali walks back to the pavilion after being run out for 59. — AFP
Azhar Ali walks back to the pavilion after being run out for 59. — AFP

Azhar had taken the initiative in the partnership and was surprisingly scoring faster than Fakhar.

But this is where Fakhar changes gear and scores 58 off the next 37 deliveries, smashing three sixes and five fours. Reaching his first maiden hundred in style, but holding out in the deep not much after.

It was not the classiest hundred that one would see, but it was as important as any.

Babar Azam and Shoaib Malik tick the scoreboard but are not able to really explode.

Then walks in Mohammad Hafeez. The first ball he steps out of the crease and hammers it down the fence. For once, Hafeez is not given the liberty to play himself in. He does not have to rotate strike cause he’s striking so clean.

We know that Hafeez can time the ball as good as anyone in Pakistan. Maybe coming in at number five is more suited for his game play. Maybe when the professor has fewer options, perhaps when the game dictates play, he will not need to complicate things, like he so often does.

India are on the back-foot and feeling the pressure of a big game. They give away 25 extras. In their first game against Pakistan, they had given eight.

With runs on the board, Pakistan is in command.

Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century, going on to score 114 runs before being caught out on a Hardik Pandya ball. — Reuters
Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century, going on to score 114 runs before being caught out on a Hardik Pandya ball. — Reuters

But this is India. If there is anyone in the world who can chase down a mammoth total, it is Kohli and his men.

However, they are up against the most potent bowling attack of the tournament. In the last three games, Pakistan restricted South Africa to 219/8, bowled Sri Lanka out for 235 and bundled England for 211.

The new ball is in the hand of Pakistan’s ace fast bowler, Mohammad Amir. He angles two of them out and brings the third one back in – truly reminiscent of Pakistani left-arm god, Wasim Akram. The ball is too good for Rohit Sharma, who has scored 301 runs in the week with an average of 101. But he now returns to the pavilion with a duck.

Fast bowlers hunt in pairs. And Junaid Khan is steaming in from the other end. The last time Kohli had to walk in this early was in June, 2015. He is not used to this, and he is up against Pakistani fast bowlers who have their tails up.

Amir bowls another jaffa that catches the outside edge and flies straight into the hands of Azhar Ali at first slip, and then falls out of it. Kohli is dropped on five. Kohli, who has 17 hundreds when batting second. The 23-year-old Kohli had clobbered Pakistan for 183 not out and chased 330 runs in less than 48 overs.

Now he is 28, Indian captain and the number one batsman in the world.

Amir is livid, and rightly so.

Then something very Pakistani happens. Amir gets Virat twice in two balls. Pure Pakistani magic!

Amir is on fire, so is Junaid. Both have bowled maidens. But it is Amir who strikes again. This time, his victim is Shikhar Dhawan, the holder of the Golden Bat, the leading run scorer of the tournament.

India are reeling at 33-3 in nine overs, and Amir has taken 16-3 in five.

Junaid Khan celebrates after taking Ravindra Jadeja's wicket. — Reuters
Junaid Khan celebrates after taking Ravindra Jadeja’s wicket. — Reuters

Amir has stream-rolled through Rohit, Virat, and Shikar; the top three Indian batsmen who had contributed 82% of the runs (894 out of 1094) that India had scored in the championship, before the final.

Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni stand as the last ray of hope for India. They stand between Green Glory and Bleeding Blue. But there is little respite.

Fast bowlers hunt in pairs, but Pakistani fast bowlers are known to hunt in packs. And they are deadlier when they have a leg-spinner in their ranks.

Sarfraz soon unleashes his second line of attack. Hasan Ali is bowling from one end, and Shadab Khan from the other.

The 19-year-old Pakistani leg spinner was two years old when Yuvraj made his international debut. But Shadab has the zest of youth and tosses one up to lure Yuvraj into a cover drive. It is from the back of Shadab’s hand. Shadab’s wrong’un is not easy to read as it goes past Yuvraj’s outside edge. Yuvraj is half out.

And then the second half is out on the next ball, one that pitches on a similar length but turns back in. Yuvraj tries to jam his bat, and the umpire adjudges it not out. Shadab thinks otherwise, he knows better and directs his captain into taking a review. He is right.

Shadab is sure he has got his man, Yuvraj Singh.

Technology confirms that Yuvraj was plumb.

Pakistan team prostrate in thanks after their Champions Trophy win. — AFP
Pakistan team prostrate in thanks after their Champions Trophy win. — AFP

Hasan Ali sets his field against Dhoni. Deep square leg in place. It is an obvious trap. The ball is short and climbing into Dhoni’s ribcage. He takes a dab at it and puts it straight down the trap, where Imad completes a fine diving effort.

Hasan starts the generator and opens his arms in trademark celebrations. He is already the highest wicket taker in the tournament, but this moment is more important to him. He has come, he has planned and he has conquered the Indians.

In the space of four balls, both Yuvraj and Dhoni are parcelled back to the pavilion. India are 54/5, with the top five back in the hut. That’s game, set and match for Pakistan.

Hardik Pandya later launches himself into Shadab, but it is too late. A lot of the Indian crowd is leaving the stadium and the writing is on the scorecard.

India are eventually bundled out for 158 runs. Pakistan win the match by 180 runs and are crowned as the champions. They received white jackets that are two sizes bigger, perhaps tailored better to fit the English team.

Sarfraz and his boys celebrate.

The entire team goes down in prostration.

The streets of London turn into Lahore. And celebrating fans surround Sarfraz’s house in Karachi. Television sets break across India, and Rishi Kapoor’s twitter account is painted with green graffiti.

Almost every Pakistani player who comes for an interview starts by first thanking Allah. It is as if Pakistan believes that they play with supernatural support from a superior being. As if they have a team of twelve instead of eleven on the field.

Pakistan’s performance is paranormal, it is pure magic and it is almost unfair.

Pakistan lift the Champions Trophy after a nail-biting final match against India at the Oval in London. — Reuters
Pakistan lift the Champions Trophy after a nail-biting final match against India at the Oval in London. — Reuters

Banks say they hold too much capital

The nation’s biggest banks have a common gripe: They have too much money.

Since the 2008 financial crisis, regulators have forced Wall Street to set aside larger financial reserves, enough capital for banks to survive losses they may suffer in an emergency — without the help of taxpayer bailouts. Now, some of the industry’s key players say their financial cushions are getting too plump.

“Left to our own devices, we wouldn’t hold as much capital as we’re holding,” Lloyd Blankfein, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, said at an investor conference this year.

“It is clear that the banks have too much capital,” Jamie Dimon, head of JPMorgan Chase, said in his annual letter to shareholders. “. . . We think it’s clear that banks can use more of their capital to finance the economy without sacrificing safety and soundness.”

With lower capital requirements, the industry argues, banks could buy back more of their stock or increase dividends, effectively returning wealth to shareholders.

Regulators have largely dismissed the industry’s complaints, saying banks may need even more capital, not less.

“Although capital standards are higher than before the last crisis, they are not nearly high enough,” Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said in response to Dimon’s shareholder letter. “. . . Unfortunately, regulators have taken it easy on the large banks, which today have only about half of the equity they need.”

But that could change under President Donald Trump. The White House has said officials went too far in regulating the banking industry, making it too hard to get a loan.

At the centre of the debate is one of the chief causes of the financial crisis: Banks had too much debt and not enough capital to absorb growing losses and had to be bailed out by taxpayers.

The industry has significantly increased its financial cushion since then. The common equity capital ratio — which compares an institution’s core equity assets with the relative risk of its various assets — is one measure of a bank’s ability to absorb losses.

The ratio for the country’s largest banks has more than doubled, from 5.5pc in early 2009 to 12.2pc by 2016, according to the Federal Reserve. That amounted to an increase of more than $700 billion in such capital, to $1.2 trillion.

But just how much banks should hold and what forms it should take are contentious questions.

“Too little capital is bad for a company; too much capital is also bad,” said Ed Mills, a policy analyst at investment bank FBR Capital Markets. After Trump’s election, ‘investors got excited’ that ‘we may be seeing the high-water mark’ in the amount of capital banks are required to hold.

One approach championed by some Republicans is to give banks regulatory relief if they hold onto more capital. Under legislation passed last week by the House, banks that raised more capital would be eligible for an ‘off-ramp’ and would not face the same level of regulatory scrutiny.

Critics say the requirement in the legislation is still too low. The bill is likely to meet stiff resistance in the Senate, but even if it passed, many of the biggest banks would probably not choose the off-ramp, industry analysts say.

JPMorgan Chase would need to set aside an additional $107bn to take advantage of that option, according to research by Nomura, a global investment bank. Goldman Sachs and Bank of America would need to set aside an additional $45bn and $82bn, respectively.

“The challenge for regulators is that there is no magic number for what is the appropriate amount of capital,” said Kevin Petrasic, a banking partner at White and Case.

“Economic risks change over time — they inflate and contract,” he added. “How do you establish capital criteria that are flexible for all types of situations? What is the appropriate amount of capital, relative to the potential risk?”

The current capital standards are already too high and complex, industry officials say. US regulators sometimes ‘gold-plate’ the standards set by international groups, putting American firms at a disadvantage, they say. Also, the way US regulators count capital can differ according to the agency or the rule under consideration.

That has prompted some banks to hold onto more capital than they need, creating a buffer to comply with changing federal standards. Banks are sitting on $131bn in excess capital, according to a March research report from Goldman Sachs. If capital requirements were lowered, banks could return the money to shareholders in the form of dividends, boosting the payouts perhaps by 45pc in 2018, the report found.

Hampering the industry’s arguments are record profits. Despite the higher capital requirements, the US banking industry reported more than $171bn in profits last year, and the volume of bank loans has increased significantly since the financial crisis.

“To the point that they have shown themselves profitable, the Federal Reserve has taken the opportunity to further raise capital” requirements, said Mills of FBR.

In a 2015 column in the Financial Times, former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan argued that having 20pc capital was reasonable. “The objection to a capital requirement of 20pc or more, even when phased in over a series of years, is that it will suppress bank earnings and lending. History, however, suggests otherwise,” Greenspan wrote.

And former Federal Reserve governor Daniel Tarullo said in a speech in April that it may be time for banks to increase capital again.

A recent study by three Federal Reserve Board researchers concluded that some capital levels should be between 13pc and 26pc, he noted. “Current requirements for the largest US firms are toward the lower end of this range,” he said.

The Washington Post Service

Imran flayed for ‘personal attacks’ on rivals

PESHAWAR: PML-N provincial president Amir Muqam has criticised PTI chairman Imran Khan for what he calls personal attacks on politicians and advised him to compete his rival politicians in initiating development schemes and alleviation of poverty in the country.

In a statement here on Sunday, he said that Imran Khan had nothing solid to prove against his rival politicians but he was in the habit to use derogatory language and level baseless allegations to influence people.

Mr Muqam, who is also adviser to prime minister, said that by appearing before the JIT, Nawaz Sharif and Shahbaz Sharif proved that they were innocent and had the courage to face any forum of accountability.

He said that Panama Leaks case was also about to end and Sharif family would emerge successful while Imran Khan would be unable to face the nation in future.

Mr Muqam said that the PTI chief should focus his attention on improvement of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government during the remaining period of its tenure otherwise none of his party’s candidates would be able to win elections in 2018.

He expressed the hope that PML-N would win maximum seats in the next general elections as its popularity graph was growing up owing to the policies of the federal government.

The PNL-N leader advised KP Chief Minister Pervez Khattak to copy Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif in development schemes. The KP government, he said, should focus on welfare of people.

Man held for allegedly shooting warden

RAWALPINDI: A man suspected of shooting a traffic warden was arrested on Saturday as the critically injured is still struggling for his life in the ICU of a hospital.

Doctors at the Benazir Bhutto Hospital (BBH) described Sohail Shahzad’s condition as critical. The injured has not regained consciousness since he was operated upon after being shot by a motorcycle rider doing a wheelie on Murree Road on Thursday.

City Traffic Officer (CTO) Yousuf Shahid said the suspect was rounded up by the New Town police from People’s Colony. The suspect claimed that he fired gunshots into the air to get his friends released from the police.

The CTO identified the suspect as Junaid alias Jony and said during interrogation the suspect said he was wearing black shalwar kameez and riding a 70cc motorcycle when he fired gunshots near Sixth Road.

The CTO said the suspect had also been involved in mobile phone snatching.

The official said the traffic police had launched a crackdown against motorcycle riders doing wheelie risking their own lives as well as that of other citizens. So far, he added, 29 motorcyclists have been arrested besides impounding dozens of motorcycles modified for wheeling.

Special police squads have been constituted to check wheelie on Murree Road.

The CTO warned parents to keep a check on their sons, especially those using modified motorcycles.

Pakistan romp to historic win over arch-rivals India in thrilling Champions Trophy final

Pakistan thrashed favourites India by 180 runs to clinch the Champions Trophy title in a thrilling competition at London’s Oval ground on Sunday.

The green shirts set up a daunting 339-run target with a loss of four wickets for the men in blue, but Indian batting collapsed under a calculated bowling attack, with all men out for just 158 runs in the 31st over.

The score is Pakistan’s second-highest against India. The last time Pakistan beat India was in 2009 ─ also during a Champions Trophy match.

Virat Kohli won the toss and put Pakistan in to bat first.

Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century in the Champions Trophy final against India — Reuters
Fakhar Zaman celebrates his century in the Champions Trophy final against India — Reuters

The green shirts’ total was bolstered by a solid 128-run opening stand between Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali which set the mood for the first inning. Fakhar, who scored his maiden ODI century in style with a four off the 31st over, was awarded Player of the Match.

The opening pair broke two records ─ one for the best score posted by Pakistani openers against India in an ICC tournament (86 runs), and the second for the best partnership against India in an ICC tournament when 100 came up for Pakistan in the 18th over.

The last time Pakistani openers scored more than 100 runs prior to the fall of the first wicket in two consecutive matches was in 2003. This is only the second time the same has happened outside Asia.

Azhar and Muhammad Hafeez both racked up half centuries, whereas Fakhar smashed 114 off 106 deliveries, and Babar Azam scored a solid 46 off 52.

Hardik Pandya was the top-scorer for India with 76 runs before he was run out by Hasan in the 27th over after a mix-up with partner Ravindra Jadeja. The left-hander scored 54 runs off 32 balls, the fastest half-century in a world One Day International (ODI) final.

Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of India's Rohit Sharma, lbw for 0 during the ICC Champions Trophy final. ─ AFP
Mohammad Amir celebrates taking the wicket of India’s Rohit Sharma, lbw for 0 during the ICC Champions Trophy final. ─ AFP

Left-arm fast Muhammad Amir kicked off Pakistan’s bowling attack, taking three crucial early wickets ─ those of Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Shikhar Dhawan.

Two overs into the match, opener Sharma succumbed to a LBW, whereas skipper and heavy-hitter Kohli was caught out by Shadab Khan, and Dhawan was caught out by Sarfaraz Ahmed.

India won the toss and decided to field first in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval. — Photo courtesy ICC Official Twitter
India won the toss and decided to field first in the Champions Trophy final at The Oval. — Photo courtesy ICC Official Twitter

Hasan Ali matched Amir’s three, taking the wickets of MS Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin and JJ Bumrah.

India’s lineup remained unchanged for the match, whereas Pakistan replaced Rumman Raees with Muhammad Amir. Amir had been ruled out of Pakistan’s semi-final against England due to a back spasm during a practice session.

In Champions Trophy history, 2013 has been the only edition in which the team batting first won the final. The other 5 finals have been won by the chasing team.

Squads

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (w + c), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (capt), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wkt), Hardik Pandya, Kedhar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Jaspreet Bumrah