India’s quest of defending their title will be tested when they take the field at The Oval on Sunday as they face arch-rivals Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Both the teams come in with wins over England and Bangladesh respectively, however, the defending champions will have the psychological advantage, after they edged out Pakistan by 124-runs in their tournament opener.
Former Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara in his column for ICC wrote that he didn’t expect an India-Pakistan final in the beginning of the tournament. He said “Both teams have played some exceptional cricket, adapted really well to conditions, and have shown enormous heart and spirit along the way, both bouncing back from heavy defeats.”
Coming in as favourites, India have played a dominating role and is considered to be one of the best team in the world. Sangakkara, who lost to India in 2011 World Cup, believes the Blue Brigade will be very confident going into the game and it deserves to be. It has been the best team in the tournament playing consistently high-class cricket.
India’s top order, consisting Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli, has been among the runs and have steered their team to 300 plus runs in each of their games. The Kohli-led side has all its departments functioning at their best. Their batting has been peerless. Their bowling varied and penetrative. Their fielding alert and strong.
Facing an uphill task against well-balanced side, Pakistan’s strength relies on the bowling. The 39-year old cricketer said “Pakistan as perilous opponent when on song and India knows that it can’t sit back on past victories or ICC rankings. It needs to rise to the occasion and be at its very best.”
“I think its biggest battle is going to be psychological. The challenge for Pakistan is how it keeps emotions in check and uses the hype, build-up and occasion to channel its focus to execute its skill. I would expect a good pitch which starts a little slow but settles down nicely for the batsmen,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
The right-hander batsman feels both the teams will be keen to bowl if they win the toss. India loves chasing and Pakistan will really want to deny it that comfort.