‘It’s India’s batting vs Pakistan’s bowling in ICC Champions Trophy final’

Kumar Sangakkara, former Sri Lanka captain, feels while Virat Kohli-led India’s strength lies in its batting, especially its fantastic top four, Pakistan would bank on its superb bowling attack in the ICC Champions Trophy final at The Oval on Sunday.

icc champions trophy 2017 Updated: Jun 18, 2017 08:46 IST
Kumar Sangakkara
Kumar Sangakkara
Champions Trophy 2017,India vs Pakistan,Kumar Sangakkara
Indian cricket team will take on Pakistan in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. It’ll be interesting to see how Virat Kohli goes about his game against the tournament’s highest wicket-taker, Hasan Ali. (Getty Images)

So, after two-and-a-half weeks of international cricket, some rain but plenty of great cricket and several surprises, we are all braced for a huge final – India versus Pakistan.

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The ICC’s commercial department have probably been celebrating with their rights partners since Thursday because this is the organiser’s dream clash with the possibility of a TV audience well in excess of one billion.

While there may be anti-climax for the England’s fans, there will be a frenzied atmosphere inside The Oval on Sunday. It should be a brilliant day for spectators.

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I certainly did not predict this final before the tournament, but no one can claim they don’t deserve to be there.

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.

India 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.

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All departments within the team are functioning at their best. Their batting has been peerless. Their bowling varied and penetrative. Their fielding alert and strong.

But I know India will also be wary. It may have thrashed Pakistan in its opening game of the tournament, but it would have also hoped it was its last game against its arch-rival.

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The problem about playing Pakistan is that when all things click and the team gels in unison, it can become an overpowering force – as a very strong England team found out this week.

Pakistan is a 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.

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While India’s strength lies in its batting, especially its fantastic top four, Pakistan’s strength is its superb bowling attack.

If Mohammad Amir fully recovers from his back spasm and returns, it will have plenty of firepower to throw at India.

Unlike some teams, it is also able to sustain pressure after the new ball period by exploiting reverse swing. In this regard, the skiddy and passionate Hasan Ali has been sensational.

Pakistan batting, although talented, can be its weak point. Its fielding can also be up and down. In both departments in can be brilliance or disaster.

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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.

Pakistan will be helped by coach Mickey Arthur, who has done a wonderful job in maturing and nurturing players. His involvement and contribution are obvious.

We should have fantastic conditions at The Oval for the final. I would expect a good pitch which starts a little slow but settles down nicely for the batsmen.

Presumably both teams will be keen to bowl if they win the toss. India loves chasing and Pakistan will really want to deny it that comfort.

I am not even going to try and predict the winner.

Credit: www.icc-cricket.com

First Published: Jun 17, 2017 15:37 IST