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The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 is into its business end as arch-rivals India and Pakistan gear up for the final. With India looking to defend their title, which they won in 2013, Pakistan hope to lift the Champions Trophy title for the first time. The Sarfraz Ahmed-led side started their campaign with a 124-run defeat to India but now have a chance to avenge their earlier defeat on Sunday.
India’s top order, consisting of Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, has been phenomenal form as they have steered India to victories over Pakistan, South Africa and Bangladesh. Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur believes his bowlers have ‘no option’ but to attack India’s in-form top order to give themselves the best chance of winning the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday.
“We have to (attack), we’ve got no option. We’ve got to try and make that new ball really work for us. We’ve got to try and get into them. That middle order haven’t had massive hits, they haven’t batted much under pressure of late. So we’ve got to try and put them under extreme pressure particularly by knocking their top order over,” Arthur told cricket.com.au.
The stage is all set for a high-voltage ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final at The Oval on Sunday. Captain Sarfraz will bank on his pace attack, which has restricted South Africa, Sri Lanka and England to totals under 240 to book a place in the final. On the other hand, the Blue Brigade has scored 250 plus runs in each of their four matches. India’s success in the ongoing tournament is because of the preformances by their top order batsmen. But their middle order has barely spent time in the middle.
And Arthur says his side will be in with a huge chance of winning if their in-form bowlers can strike with the new balls and expose the middle order early in the innings. “If we can do that, we’ve got a real chance of getting to their underbelly.”
But the work of pace spearheads Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan and Mohammad Amir, as well as frugal spinners Shadab Khan, Imad Wasim and Mohammad Hafeez, has allowed the Pakistanis to build pressure and strike prolifically in the middle overs.
“Tactically we’d always spoken about our guys wanting to express themselves with the ball and wanting to attack. (The second Power Play) historically has been a bit of a dead period where you’re just trying to squeeze and contain the opposition. But what happens is you just allow the opposition to play, they keep so many wickets in hand that scores are getting too big at the back end,” Arthur added.
Former South African cricketer feels for Pakistan’s successful run, Sarfraz has to be credited.
“Our execution has been great and we’ve attacked. The captain has kept slips and put catchers in attacking positions and it’s worked for us. He’s very positive. He’s an aggressive captain and he wants to take wickets. That’s how we want to play and I think that’s how you have to play one-day cricket now. He encapsulates all that,” he concluded.