Preview by Ganesh Chandrasekaran
We’ve come down to the conclusion, finally, of what has been a very interesting ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Not many matches have been the nail-biters that have been wished for but there has been context, and drama. Rain, run-rates and the format of the tournament has left people engaged enough with it. If that was a satisfying main course, then the dessert that awaits has left tongues wagging.
In cricket, there is no bigger off-field context than the one that exists between India and Pakistan, thanks to the history between the two countries. They’ve been together, separated and fought with each other ever since. It’s a soap opera that, sadly, has not seen an end in sight. And so every time there is match being played between the two sides, it is an event in itself. No doubt there will be more group viewings and debates on social media. Brace yourselves for the fury of the unruly.
The journey of the two teams in the tournament began against each other, where Pakistan came out second. It was also something that forced their coach Micky Arthur to ask a few hard questions of the players. What followed has been a resurgence fronted by a few of their youngest members like Fakhar Zaman and Hasan Ali. Their skipper Sarfraz Ahmed showed them the way through at their most difficult hour in the tournament against Sri Lanka. And they are a team on the rise. For a team that has been through a transformation phase, the tournament is already a success.
The same cannot be said about India though. Along with England, they started as pre-tournament favorites thanks to the skill, form, and experience in the side. They’ve lived up to that billing by reaching the final but their success will be gauged upon how they turn up on the day of the final.
When: Sunday, June 18, 2017, at 10:30 AM Local Time
Where: The Oval, London
What to expect: Predictions are for a fully sunny day with temperatures on the higher side. If it stays true, then all invested parties are bound to be happy.
There is not much left to tinker with and Virat Kohli has made it clear that they are not looking to make changes. However, a day ahead of the game, Ravichandran Ashwin picked up an injury on his right knee while practicing. The spinner had a bandage and was with the physio for some drills before coming back to a bowl in the nets. He didn’t seem to be in big discomfort but his fitness is something that India could be sweating upon. If absent, one of Umesh Yadav or Mohammed Shami would fill in.
Probable XI: Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin/Umesh Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah
Mohammad Amir is fit and will play after missing the semi-final. That could mean that Rumman Raees, who did well in that game, could face a harsh sit-out call. There should be no big changes otherwise since Pakistan have seized upon a combination that ticks.
Probable XI: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan
Stats and Trivia
13-2 India’s win-loss record against Pakistan in ICC tournaments (including wins in one-over eliminators) – the most any team has beaten an opposition in ICC events. India has won the last seven head-to-head encounters between the two sides in these events with Pakistan’s last win coming way back in Champions Trophy 2009.
4.19 Economy rate of India’s bowlers in the first ten overs this tournament – the lowest among all teams. They concede a boundary every 11.00 balls which are bettered only by Pakistan – boundary every 11.67 deliveries.
3 A number of times Junaid Khan has dismissed Virat Kohli across 22 balls bowled to him, conceding just two runs in five ODIs. No other Pakistan bowler from their squad of 15 has dismissed Kohli in ODIs.
We’ve got to look at our strengths, and our strengths have been the fact that we’ve been able to take wickets and we’ve been able to take wickets consistently through the middle periods. If we can get amongst them with the new ball, we can expose the middle order that hasn’t batted much this competition, so that’s pretty much our aim and focus – Micky Arthur, Pakistan coach has his plans laid out for the final against India
everyone is aware of the kind of talent they have on their team, and on their day they can beat any side in the world. That’s the kind of players they have, and that’s the kind of ability they have on their side. So we’re quite aware of that. But at the same time, neither are we too intimidated nor are we too arrogant about what we are doing. It’s important to maintain the balance of being confident in your own skill and what you are doing as a team – Virat Kohli
India (From): Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Ajinkya Rahane, Dinesh Karthik, Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami
Pakistan (From): Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan, Mohammad Amir, Haris Sohail, Fahim Ashraf, Ahmed Shehzad