It is less than 24 hours left for the much anticipated Indo-Pak final of the ICC Champions Trophy and the only question going around in the cricket circles is – will the match live up to the expectations?
We all know India and Pakistan have not played bilateral series of late due to political reasons and if we look at the recent track of India-Pakistan matches in multi-team events, it will be found, the majority of those have been one-sided with India outclassing the opponent without much of resistance. So from the cricketing point of view, fans are hoping for a competitive game on Sunday.
But, here the question is, can the Pakistan boys get a hold of their nerves, to put up their ‘A’ game against this strong Indian outfit, which has been playing some dominating cricket in competition?
A finale of an elite tournament like Champions Trophy is expected to be a high-pressure fixture and according to ViratKohli, the previous results will have a very little significance on this occasion.
“I don’t see any relevance of the first game [Last encounter between India and Pakistan in Birmingham] here because you can never tell how a particular team starts a tournament. Some teams start very confidently and then they fade off. Some teams might not have the best starts, and they come back amazingly, which Pakistan have done. So 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.”
Well, Kohli rightly pointed out that Pakistan bounced back in the competition in an emphatic fashion following the thrashing against India. Though this comeback has been led by their bowling performance, but as a team, Pakistan lifted their game significantly to get the momentum on their side. And we all know, a Pakistan team with momentum is always a dangerous unit.
“I said before the Edgbaston game [against India], that I thought they [The Pakistan boys] were really, really calm. But they’re very, very excited now, and there’s a hell of a good vibe in that dressing room. Let’s hope we can pull out our ‘A’ game again tomorrow. If we play our ‘A’ game together and do the basics well, we can beat anybody,” these words of Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur in the pre-match press conference, sounded quite similar to the ones which he said before the semi-final against England in which Pakistan were clearly the underdogs.
Once again, the ‘Boys in Green’ will go into this final as the less fancied side and they have to play out of their boxes to go past India.
Meanwhile, like the old days, once again the talking point of Sunday’s game will be the contest between in-form Indian batsmen vs lethal Pakistan bowling attack. A lot will depend on how Pakistan use the new balls against the likes of ShakharDhawan, Rohit Sharma and ViratKohli– the much talked about India’s in-form top three.
Pakistan’s strategy will be to get rid of the top three early to expose the middle-order, which has not spent significant time in the middle in this competition.
“We’ve got to look at our strengths, and our strengths has 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,” Aurthr had no hesitation to reveal his game plan.
Kohli’s India, on the other hand, wants to keep it simple and boring.
“We haven’t spoken about this game in any different way. We’ve practiced the same way from the first day we came here. Even today’s practice was absolutely similar. There wasn’t any drop of intensity or something extra. There’s no overexcitement. People are just doing the normal things that they do in any practice session, and that’s the kind of approach we have maintained throughout the tournament, and as I said last time, it’s just another game of cricket tomorrow, and whatever the result, we have to go forward and play more games after that.
“The more relaxed you stay in these kinds of situations, it’s a good thing because it helps you take better decisions when you are composed and calm mentally and you can help the team come out of difficult situations only if you’re thinking in that fashion. We have changed nothing from the first day we came here honestly,” the Indian captain said.
Thus, both camps have a clear and well-known strategy on their head. Now it will be interesting to see which team can implement their gameplan on the field on the big day.