The Champions Trophy has witnessed some brilliant batting, exceptional run chases, deadly pace bowling and electric fielding as eight teams displayed their majestic talent in 14 matches until the grand finale arrived.
An India-Pakistan battle at ‘The Oval’ on Sunday in the grand finale of the Champions Trophy promises to be a mouth-watering clash which cricket fanatics always dream about. The marquee clash allows more significance as both the premier South Asian nations now compete only in International Cricket Council (ICC) matches.
India and Pakistan both have eclipsed the 8 other teams across 15 days to emerge as the best cricketing nations of the premier tournament. Defending champions, India, with their excellent all-round performance were a certainty in the finals and pre-tournament favorites.
They have displayed some supreme performances apart from the fiasco in Group stage against Sri Lanka. However, they emerged as the best team from Group B by defeating both Pakistan and South Africa by massive margins. They showcased amazing stuff in the semi-finals of the tourney as they steamrolled Bangladesh in a ruthless manner.
Pakistan, on the other hand, started disastrously against India, losing by 124 runs. However, in a matter of days, their fast bowlers brought them back into the tournament by winning successive games against South Africa and Sri Lanka.
When no one gave them a chance to proceed further, they surprised the cricketing pundits by beating a far superior team like England en-route to the finals.
However, as the ‘mother of all cricketing rivalries’ is once again ready to set the tourney on fire, let’s have a look at some of the statistics between both the teams.
# 13-2 India’s win-loss record against Pakistan in ICC tournaments (including wins in one-over eliminators) - the most any team has beaten an opposition in ICC events. India has emerged as far superior with astounding victories in the last seven head-to-head encounters between the two sides in these events with Pakistan’s last win coming way back in Champions Trophy 2009.
# 7-3 Pakistan lead India seven wins to three losses in the finals of ODI tournaments. Nine of these were at neutral venues - one in Melbourne and four each in Sharjah and Dhaka. The only time these two teams faced off in an ODI final in this century was in Dhaka in 2008 when Pakistan got the better of India by 25 runs.
Cricket pundits, former players, and fans have dubbed India the favorites and expect them to retain the silverware. Blessed with mercurial players and outright match winners, the Indian team will be expected to go for the kill in the match.
Five Indian stars who can take India to the title triumph and emerge as a trump card in the finale are listed here:
1. Shikhar Dhawan: The elegant left-hander, termed as ‘Gabbar’ Dhawan, took the 2013 Champions Trophy tournament by storm, slamming hundreds against South Africa and West Indies. Four years ago, he scored 363 runs from five matches as India went on to win the cup in style.
This year too, although coming from an injury lay-off, he has been in exceptional form and lit up the tournament with his scintillating strokeplay. The fifties against Pakistan and South Africa and a century against Sri Lanka in the league stages were followed up by a cracking 46 against Bangladesh in the semi-finals.
Dhawan has so far totaled 317 runs from four matches. He has scored 680 runs and overtaken Sourav Ganguly as the leading run-scorer in the tournament for India.
Dhawan is now also the fourth highest run-scorer overall in the Champions Trophy. Chris Gayle (791) tops the list followed by two Sri Lankans - Mahela Jayawardene (742) and Kumar Sangakkara (683). India will expect him to provide some more fireworks in the final in order to lay hands on the glittering trophy.
2. Rohit Sharma: The ‘hitman’ of Indian cricket has been in impeccable form and provided valuable support to his partner Shikhar Dhawan. They have hit four 100-run partnerships in the tournament and have emerged as the most successful pair in Champions Trophy’s history.
Rohit Sharma’s 11th ODI century brought India victory in their ICC Champions Trophy semifinal match against Bangladesh at the Edgbaston cricket ground.
He also notched up 1000 runs against Sri Lanka during a group stage encounter and became the eleventh Indian batsman to reach the milestone against Lankans. Sharma scored a brilliant half-century in the group stage against Pakistan and the Indian team management will hope that he reserves another special knock for the finale.
3. Virat Kohli: The mercurial Indian skipper has enhanced his stature as a gladiator of the cricketing arena due to his brutal hitting in breathtaking chases. Most of his 27 centuries have come while chasing and he recently scripted history by becoming the fastest cricketer to score 8000 runs in ODIs during his gallant unbeaten knock of 96 against Bangladesh in the semifinals of the Champions Trophy.
Kohli reached the 8000-run mark in his 175th innings to go ahead of South African captain A B de Villiers who had taken 182 innings to reach to the milestone. Sourav Ganguly (200 innings) and Sachin Tendulkar (210 innings) are now third and fourth in the list. The Pakistanis will be wary of the top ranked ODI batsman’s hard-hitting tactics and would look to devise ways to contain him.
4. Jasprit Bumrah: Bumrah has been a special find for India and the tournament has helped him earn laurels as one of the best ODI bowlers of all time. His fiery spells, amazing death hole deliveries, potent yorkers and exceptional slower balls have helped him develop as a complete bowler.
His economy rate, 3.57, in the first ten overs – is the second-lowest among all bowlers after Tim Southee’s 3.54 (minimum of five overs). 71.01% of his deliveries have been dots which places him in the second best position after Morne Morkel (72.73%).
Bumrah’s dot ball percentage in the death overs, 50.82 – is the best for any bowler with at least four overs. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the next best with 44.23%. As a result, both the bowlers have economy rates of well under six - 5.61 for Bumrah and 5.77 for Bhuvneshwar. Further, they have formed a deadly partnership and have given timely breakthroughs to their team.
5. Ravindra Jadeja: Premier all-rounder and left arm Spinner Ravindra Jadeja became the highest wicket taker for India at ICC Champions Trophy. He achieved this milestone on in the semi-fnal match against Bangladesh en-route to the finals.
Jadeja now has 16 wickets from nine matches in the ICC Champions Trophy overtaking former left-arm fast bowler Zaheer Khan who picked 15 wickets in as many matches.
In 2013, Jadeja picked up 12 wickets in five matches. His performance with the ball was key to India’s victory four years back.
Apart from bowling, his electric fielding and hard hitting capabilities as a batsman make the Indian all-rounder a utility player. He has effected many run-outs in the tournament and has been instrumental in India’s emergence as the best fielding side.