The British ruled the undivided India. They severed that country to form the two rivals of today.
Ironically these two – Indian and Pakistan, seem to dominate the game they invented centuries ago – cricket. It seems almost surreal how the things actually turned out in this edition of Champions Trophy. When it commenced, only India among the teams from the subcontinent was actually considered as a potential contender. That too was because they are the defending champions.
England, Australia and South Africa were the incontrovertible favorites of this competition and with South Africa’s age-old problem of choking, many of the cricket friends round the world foresaw an ‘India vs. Australia’ or an ‘India vs. England’ final at the Oval. But since the crushing defeat against India in the first match, Pakistan pulled off an absolute coup de theatre. By defeating two potential favourites, they got their coveted entrée into the Finals.
As for India, they were almost completely up to their expectation. The defeat against Sri Lanka gave a small wound but that seemed to have healed by now. With top run scorers in this tournament, Indian top order is looking impregnable now.
The Ashes has been the most prestigious and sought-after cricket rivalry for the cricket lovers. The history of England taking on the Aussies goes way back to the early 19th century when this game itself was in an inchoate stage. Watching this battle is like having an expensive bottle of Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc.
On the other hand, when it comes to passion, emotion, and individual display of brilliance, an India-Pakistan rivalry is literally unbeatable. Compared to tasting expensive wine, this battle is like having tequila shots. Over the years, from Zaheer Abbas to Gavaskar, from Shoaib Akhtar to Tendulkar, or from Mohammad Aamer to Virat Kohli, you would never find a dull moment in this battle despite some too one-sided matches in recent times.
India and Pakistan have been historically two sides of extremely capricious nature. They can be appalling and amazing at the very same time. India, however, has acquired significant consistency in recent times but Pakistan remained the same. And this particular factor makes them even more dangerous in this final because you will never know what they are actually capable of. No one can be sure that they will be pulverized again as they were in their very first game – they might or the result can be completely unheralded.
So, it doesn’t matter whether it’s going to be a nail-biter like the 2007 T20 WC final or not, an India-Pakistan final is always going to be an epic.
India WWLWL (completed matches, most recent first)
India (possible) 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Shikhar Dhawan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 MS Dhoni (wk), 6 Kedar Jadhav, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ravindra Jadeja, 9 R Ashwin/Umesh Yadav,10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Mohammad Amir has been ruled fit after missing the semi-final with a back spasm, meaning Rumman Raees is likely to exit the XI, despite his excellent debut.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Azhar Ali, 2 Fakhar Zaman, 3 Babar Azam, 4 Mohammad Hafeez, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Sarfraz Ahmed (capt & wk), 7 Imad Wasim, 8 Mohammad Amir, 9 Shadab Khan, 10 Hasan Ali, 11 Junaid Khan
Pitch and conditions
A fresh pitch is being used for the match and appears mostly dry, so perhaps the track will favour batsmen and scores in excess of 300 are likely. The forecast is for a slightly cloudy, but mostly dry day, with temperatures reaching the high twenties.
Stats and trivia
- Although Pakistan has an overall lead in the vis-a-vis stakes, having won 72 matches to India’s 52, they have lost eight of the 10 matches the teams have played in global tournaments.
- India has scored 1098 runs at a per-batsman average of 91.50 in the tournament, which makes them by a distance the best batting side on show. The next-best average is England’s 41.11
- Pakistan’s 31 wickets are the most taken by any team in the Champions Trophy. Since that opening loss to India, they have taken 28 wickets at 23.78 and maintained an economy rate of 4.46.
- Three of India’s top-five average higher than 43 against Pakistan – Rohit Sharma (37.90) is the lone exception.
- Junaid Khan has taken eight wickets at an average of 21.50 in five matches against India. He has dismissed Kohli three times and conceded only two runs to him.
Photo by wonker