Brendon McCullum had adviced Fakhar Zaman to play his natural game © Getty Images
Brendon McCullum had adviced Fakhar Zaman to play his natural game © Getty Images

Pakistan unearthed a talent worth gold in Fakhar Zaman in the ongoing edition of ICC Champions Trophy. The young left-handed opener, who averages over 50 in List A cricket and operates at a strike rate over 95, made his debut in the game against South Africa. He made an immediate impact with his 23-ball 31, which helped Pakistan win the rain-truncated tie. Later, his consecutive fifties in final group game and semi-final put Pakistan in the final against India. And finally, in the mother of all battles against India, Zaman scored a brilliant hundred — his third 50-plus score in four games — and became the first Pakistani to score a hundred in an ICC event final. LIVE CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 – Final at The Oval

Zaman, who loves to play his shots, interestingly takes inspiration from another swashbuckling opener Brendon McCullum. The former explosive Kiwi opener and captain, McCullum has worked with Zaman at the Lahore Qalandars in PSL. It was McCullum’s advice of playing his natural game that has worked for Zaman. “The first time I met him, he saw me batting and he told me ‘Fakhar, you’ll play all our matches, but ensure you play this (style of) game everywhere,” Fakhar recently told cricket.com.au of the former New Zealand captain, who is in the UK on commentary duty.

“I learnt a lot from him. And I saw him the other day after my debut and he’s told me so many things that are working for me. So it’s a great experience to have a captain like Brendon McCullum,” he said before adding, “All of the Qalanders really enjoyed playing with him.”

Zaman gave a good account of his skills and temperament in the high-pressure final against India as he hammered 106-ball 114. His innings propelled Pakistan to a massive 338 for 4 after put into bat first. Indian batting will now be tested by the strong Pakistan bowling when they come out to chase the target.