ICC Champions Trophy 2017: India vs Pakistan Preview
Birmingham: The countdown for the biggest match of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 to be played between India and Pakistan here has already begun with the match scheduled to start at 3pm on Sunday.
People from around the world are busy making arrangements to enjoy yet another intense cricketing battle between the arch-rivals, who will lock horns after a long gap of over two and a half years.
India and Pakistan do not play each other often these days and only meet in the ICC tournaments. India might enjoy an unbeaten streak in the World Cup matches against neighbouring country, but the latter has a better record when it comes to ICC Champions Trophy.
The two countries have played each other thrice in the Mini World Cup till date, in which Pakistan has the 2-1 advantage over India. With a bunch of world class players in the batting and bowling line-ups having exceptional fielding expertise, India surely has a great chance of equalling their Champions Trophy record with the subcontinent partners.
India, also being the defending champions, got off to a brilliant start ahead of the tournament winning both the practise matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh by 45 (D/L) and 240 runs, respectively.
As far as batting is concerned, India looks far better side than an inexperienced Pakistan line-up. Shikhar Dhawan, who was not part of India's playing XI over the past few months, has made a strong comeback playing two good confident innings of 40 and 60 runs in the warm-up matches. Skipper Virat Kohli, who holds phenomenal record when playing against Pakistan, had also played a blissful 52-run unbeaten inning in the practise match against New Zealand.
MS Dhoni was also looking confident in the first practise match though he had only scored 17* runs. In the second practise match, Dinesh Karthik played a brilliant 94 run inning before getting retired out, while Hardik Pandya exploited Bangladesh bowlers amazingly well to score a rapid fire 80 off just 54 balls.
Ravindra Jadeja also played a handy knock of 32 runs. The only problem for India would be Rohit Sharma's recent form as he neither lived up to the expectation with the bat in the Indian Premier League nor he could perform well in the warm-up match against Bangla tigers.
India's bowling has also been exceptionally well over the past few months. Be it Tests or ODIs, Indian bowlers nailed it in the recently concluded home season against teams like New Zealand, West Indies, England, Australia and Bangladesh.
In the practise matches also, they first wrapped up New Zealand for a paltry 189 runs in 38.4 overs and in the second match, bundled up Bangladesh for mere 84 runs in 23.5 overs, after setting a huge target of 325 runs.
In the first practise match against NZ, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami had grabbed the figures of 3/28 and 3/47, respectively, while in the second encounter, Bhuvi and Umesh Yadav plucked three wickets each. Jasprit Bumrah had also played a crucial role in Mumbai Indians' IPL win this season.
India's spin attack, led by the greats like Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja, has great potential of dismantling any batting line-up in the world. Apart from this, with fielders like Jadeja and Pandya and bowlers too putting in great efforts on the ground, India can pitch itself as one of the strongest contenders for the coveted trophy.
On the other hand, Pakistan might not have ample amount of experience and world class players, but they surely possess a bunch of young and potential cricketers who are capable of upsetting any team in the huge tournament.
In the two practise matches, against Bangladesh and Australia respectively, Pakistan won the first one while the second was washed out due to some heavy rain.
The match against Bangladesh was a high-scoring battle with around 700 runs being scored in almost 100 overs. Bangladesh won the toss and elected to bat first. Everything went their way in the first inning as they posted a huge total of 341/9, riding on the back of some excellent performances with the bat by Tamim Iqbal (102), Imrul Kayes (61), Mushfiqur Rahim (46) and Mosaddek Hossain (26).
Pakistan’s bowlers suffered heavy beating but Junaid Khan managed to bag 4 wickets for 73 runs in 9 overs. Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan also plucked 2 wickets each.
Pakistan started off poorly losing two wickets for just 19 runs but a great team effort saw them over the 342-run target, as Shoaib Malik (72 off 66), Fahim Ashraf (64* off 30), Mohammad Hafeez (49 off 62), Imad Wasim (45 off 50), Ahmed Shehzad (44 off 40), Hasan Ali (27* off 15) showed amazing determination and character in their respective innings.
Well, India vs Pakistan clashes have always been high intensity battles, the pressure of which could never be judged by just looking at the numbers. No matter which players are representing the countries in the match, all of them strive to give their best and register their name in the glorious history of the game.
So, just stick to your TV sets and hope the rain, as forecasted by the concerned department, doesn’t play the spoilsport in the biggest battle of the tournament.