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After 15 games, we are back down to the opening game for two teams – India and Pakistan. And what a fitting way to end things for the fans and the cricketing world. They get to see two rivals square off in the decider at The Oval. If one goes by their tournament opener at Edgbaston in Birmingham, the odds are heavily in favour of India but things have changed radically since. Where India have mostly maintained their level in all departments, Pakistan have improved significantly – as they showed against England in the semi-final – to reach the final.
Once again, if one moves their eyes to statistics, India are heavy contenders to lift the trophy for a second straight time. India are 13-2 against Pakistan in ICC events including seven straight wins. Overall, since 2011, India have won 34 and lost seven in ICC events whereas Pakistan are 20-16. But then again, the numbers and rankings mean nothing in tournament contests – again as England found out.
For India, all departments have worked but it is the batting that has consistently fired. Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have been key figures in India’s batting by providing a strong start which is solid foundation for the middle order to free their arms later on. Their impact can be seen by the fact that they are the top scorers in the tournament, Dhawan has scored 317 runs and Rohit 304 runs, and are then provided good base by skipper Virat Kohli. India have scored the most runs in the tournament (1098 runs) and have the best strike rate (6.23 per over). In fact, Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli have together scored 874 runs for India with not all members getting to bat even once in the tournament.
For Pakistan, it is their bowling that has done wonders. Hasan Ali is top of the charts in terms of wickets taken as he’s picked 10 scalps so far and has been ably supported by Junaid Khan who has picked 7 wickets. Pakistan themselves have taken the most wickets in the tournament (31) and would bank on the bowling once again to shine in the final. Pakistan bowling is further bolstered by the return of Mohammad Amir who is fit for the final after skipping the semi-final due to an injury.
India: Virat Kohli (captain), Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni (wk), Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Dinesh Karthik, Mohammed Shami, Ajinkya Rahane, Umesh Yadav.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Ahmed Shahzad, Azhar Ali, Babar Azam, Mohammed Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Hasan Ali, Mohammed Amir, Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Shadab Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail.