Rohit Reshammiya Hashmi
It doesn’t get any bigger than India taking on Pakistan in an ICC tournament final. It is as big an occasion as the ICC could have hoped for, but most would have foreseen Pakistan going the distance in the tournament given the nature of their defeat to their greatest rivals earlier in the tournament.
Pakistan’s shock defeating of the in-form host nation England has set up what’s undoubtedly the most important meeting of the two sides in recent memory. As per pre-analyses of experts, currently India is too experienced a side for Pakistan & should come out winners at the end of it all.
”In all departments, be it talent or experience, we are ahead by some margins. India’s team is young, confident & will be raring to go on Sunday at The Oval and Pakistan will have to put up a very hard attempt against them,” said the Turbanator.
Former India Captain Rahul Dravid believes skipper Kohli must avoid making any changes to the team prior to the final against the arch-rivals. ”I think Virat has to stick to what’s worked well for him. India is better familiar in chasing, we have witnessed that. They have got some real talents who stepped up at big pressure games. They are aware of handling these sort of situations, which I think is an effective tactical effort by them,” asserted The Wall.
As for Pakistan’s chances Dravid expressed that the likes of experienced Shoaib Malik & Mohammad Hafeez will have to make an impact. The pressure on Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed is enormous, yet he interacted being relaxed when the reporter of a Kolkata daily met him in the lobby of The Grange City Hotel on Friday evening.
Sarfaraz, who has played a major role in Pakistan making up to Sunday’s Champions Trophy final, had come down to meet acquaintances with wife Khushbakht & four-month-old son Abdullah. The calmly well-behaved infant was moving around in a pram. ”Pressure ka sawaal nahin hai (There’s nothing much about pressure)… We’ll play our best, and the rest is up to Allah,” said The Karachi based captain of Pakistan’s ODI & T20I squad.
Meanwhile, pacer Mohammad Amir, who missed the Champions Trophy semifinal due to back spasms, is feeling better after completing a training session at The Oval on Friday.
But the Pakistan team management is yet to decide on his availability for Sunday’s decider against India, said bowling coach Azhar Mahmood. ”Amir bowled today. He is better now & fit, but we are yet to decide on his inclusion in the final,” Mahmood said at The Oval. ”We have guys with such skill & ability that they can perform on any stage. It is just a matter of self-belief & confidence. I think anyone can replace anyone,” Mahmood stressed.
Kedar Jadhav too was an equally important contributor for India’s semifinal victory over Bangladesh on Thursday. ”It will be a good final. We have already played them once, but every game we play is with the same intensity. We’ll be doing just the same things we have been doing in this tournament. I believe it will work for us,” said the partnership-breaker.
Former South African captain Graeme Smith said, ”This Indian team is in sensational form, and as they so often do, they are peaking at the right time. It’s certainly a big ask of Pakistan to lay that performance to rest and front-up to the challenge that awaits them on Sunday.”
Former Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara points out that the opening partnership has been vital to India’s success. ”Dhawan is an outstanding player and beautiful to watch. Apart from his obvious cricketing abilities, he is also a wonderful human being. He matched equally in this regard by his partner Rohit. They combined not to get India off to a flyer in this tournament, ” depicted Sangakkara.
On the other side, Dennis Amiss, an England stalwart and member of the elite 100 first-class centuries’ club, spoke to a Kolkata daily in Birmingham on Thursday evening. ”I have been very impressed with India… Very good batsmen, with their captain Virat Kohli leading the way… Good bowlers and they are pretty good in the field as well… India appear to be the favorites,” concluded Dennis, who describes Virat to be presently world’s best batsman across formats.
Marais Erasmus, the senior most umpire of South Africa, and Richard Kettleborough were chosen by the ICC as on-field umpires for Sunday’s final. Rod Tucker & Kumar Dharmasena were chosen as third & fourth umpires, whereas David Boon will be the match referee.
The fierce battle along with the respective national anthems will go on air at 15:20 BDST & 14:50 IST.
Let’s check out the possible lineups of both the contenders :-
INDIA (Likely) : Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli (Captain), Yuvaraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Wicket-Keeper), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.
PAKISTAN (Likely) : Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfaraz Ahmed (Captain & Wicket-Keeper), Imad Wasim, Rumman Raees / Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Hassan Ali, Junaid Khan.
Rohit Reshammiya Hashmi is a musician under Bangla Rock Society and Trinity College of Cambridge. He is also a cultural activist and blogger from India.