ODI batting performance of the year February 19, 2018

The firestarter

Fakhar Zaman got the ball rolling emphatically for Pakistan's win in the Champions Trophy final

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Fakhar Zaman
114 v India, Champions Trophy final

Fakhar Zaman's was the hand that led the madness in.

Pakistan had lost their opening match by 124 runs. They had barely survived an ailing Sri Lanka. Yet, in eventually demolishing India in the most emphatic fashion imaginable, they would lift the trophy, and it was Zaman who was responsible for the start. Without his tremulations, there might have been no avalanche.

For an award-winning innings, it was terribly flawed. Fourth ball, he inside-edges just wide of leg stump to collect his first run. The eighth ball, he nicks to the keeper, but the bowler is over the line. Later, beaten by Hardik Pandya, mishitting R Ashwin square of the pitch, miscuing balls to the boundary, Zaman's innings takes on an aura of invincibility. He is not batting that badly, but even if he were, it seems as if a hundred in this final is his destiny. In between the tetchy moments: stretches of proper batting dominance. In the 26th over he runs at Ravindra Jadeja to blast him over long-on, slaps the next ball behind point for four, and when he regains strike later in the same over, smokes it imperiously over cover. Next over, Ashwin is hit for a six, then a three, and another four behind point.

The hundred, not long after he has top-edged a four off his gloves, comes via a premeditated sweep. The whole innings might as well have been premeditated. Zaman was carried along on the river of fate that day; no intervention could have changed its course. Out, finally for 114 off 106 deliveries, he sped Pakistan to 200 for 2 in under 34 overs, setting the base for their eventual 338.

Key moment

Zaman should have been out for three. The eighth ball he faced was a short one from Jasprit Bumrah, angled across him. Having nicked it to the keeper, Zaman was on his way to the dressing room when he heard himself recalled. Bumrah had overstepped, much to the ire of India captain Virat Kohli. Zaman got another chance. India's attack soon wilted against the heat of his innings.

Zaman's innings was far from chanceless, but a classic all the same © Getty Images

The numbers

2 The number of fifties Zaman had already struck in the tournament.

8 The number of years since Pakistan had last beaten India in an ICC event. The previous occasion was in the 2009 Champions Trophy.

72 The percentage of shots Zaman was in control of during this innings.

45 The number of runs Zaman scored off Ashwin, off 33 deliveries.

What they said

"He had Zorro's sword in his hands, flashing and flaying the ball to all parts. One slog-sweep was a triumph of imagination, eye and athleticism; one on-drive - I think we can call it that - was a miracle of flexibility and power. These strokes, and many others, were more like cuts, both vivid and threatening."- Mark Nicholas

"Fakhar Zaman gets caught off a no-ball. You look at that and you go, 'Hang on, it's the aligning of the stars.' I believe things don't happen, though, to teams that haven't worked and prepared. There is a Mother Cricket that looks down at you and says, 'You guys have been outstanding and we'll reward you.' You've worked extremely hard and so those little breaks go your way."- Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur is a believer in fate (at least when it comes to Zaman's innings)

Closest contenders

Rohit Sharma, 208 not out v Sri Lanka
The game after India were skittled for 112 by Sri Lanka, Rohit Sharma hit his third ODI double-hundred, and his second against Sri Lanka, as India amassed 392 for 4, and eventually won by 141 runs.

Martin Guptill 180 not out v South Africa
In pursuit of South Africa's 279 for 8, Guptill hit 11 sixes and 15 fours, leading his side to a seven-wicket win, with five overs to spare.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando