It does not have to be a final, but that is the treat in prospect this Sunday when India and Pakistan will lock horns with each other in the summit clash of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 in The Oval.
Not many people tipped the two arch-rivals to clash in the final, especially after the one-sided defeat Pakistan had to endure in its opening match in Birmingham. Still, Pakistan made a brilliant comeback thereafter, and they also got some nod from fare, and now here they are, in the grand finale.
India will be very confident going into the game and they deserve to be: They have been the best team in the tournament playing consistently high-class cricket. All departments within the team are functioning at their best. Their batting has been peerless. Their bowling varied and penetrative. Their fielding alert and strong.
Still, the Virat Kohli-led side will also be wary. They may have thrashed Pakistan in their opening game of the tournament, but they would have also hoped it was their last game against their arch-rivals.
The Indian batsmen look unfazed even in a pressure situation, Kohli’s scarcely believable record while chasing is known to all and Pakistan would have to target taking wickets with the new ball since strikes at the top of the innings are likely to be crucial for the game’s outcome.
While India’s strength lies in its batting, especially their fantastic top four, Pakistan’s strength is its superb bowling attack. If Mohammad Amir fully recovers from his back spasm and returns, it will have plenty of firepower to throw at India.
Unlike some teams, they are also able to sustain pressure after the new ball period by exploiting reverse swing. In this regard, the skiddy and passionate Hasan Ali has been sensational.
Pakistan batting, although talented, can be its weak point. Its fielding can also be up and down. In both departments in can be brilliance or disaster.
There is a reserve day for the final but it’s unlikely to be needed, for the sun has been out through the week in London and is forecast at 30 degrees tomorrow. It automatically means that teams from subcontinent will feel at home, and hopefully produce some of their best cricket.
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.
BTV, GTV, Maasranga and the Star Sports Network will telecast the match live while the official streaming will be available on hotstar. The match will start on 3.30pm BdST.
– Jannatul Naym Pieal, Correspondent, bdcrictime.com