From "no-hopers" at the start to champions in the end, former captain Shahid Afridi feels Pakistan have become serious title contenders for the 2019 ODI World Cup with their stunning Champions Trophy triumph.
Pakistan thrashed India by 180 runs in the final yesterday to lift their maiden Champions Trophy title.
"This is one victory that Pakistan fans will remember for long. It has been an ultra-quick turnaround from no-hopers to champions for the Pakistan players and the manner in which the team won the match was really impressive," Afridi wrote in his column for the ICC's official website.
"Rarely have I seen Pakistan deliver such a clinical performance in a tournament decider and annihilating hot favourite India came as a pleasant surprise," he added. "Pakistan, meanwhile, has a team that can develop into one of the top three teams by the time the 2019 World Cup is played in England. This squad is built around exciting young talent and has an astute and passionate leader in Sarfraz." Afridi lauded the performance of centurion Fakhar Zaman and the tournament's leading wicket-taker Hassan Ali besides congratulating captain Sarfraz Ahmed.