Final: Pakistan v India at The Oval
Sunday Jun 18, 2017 – 19:30 AEST
|Top Batsman India||Virat Kohli ($3.50)|
|Top Batsman Pakistan||Fakhar Zaman ($4.50)|
|Top Bowler India||Bhuvaneshwar Kumar ($4.35)|
|Top Bowler Pakistan||Junaid Khan ($5.00)|
This Champions Trophy has been one of the most intriguing ICC events in a long time with a number of upsets and now an India-Pakistan Final for the first time ever in an ODI world event to cap off things. Over a billion people around the world will be tuned into this clash where the stakes are often greater than winning or losing a cricket match.
To the neutral observer, India will be the strong favorites going into this match. They were the 2nd ranked nation in the world coming into the tournament while Pakistan was the 8th. India has also pummeled Pakistan regularly in big matches including once in this tournament as well.
A closer look at the statistics suggests that it has not all been plain sailing for India. The last 20 matches played between the two teams has seen 12 victories for India and 8 for Pakistan. Pakistan may have never beaten India in a World Cup however their record in the Champions Trophy is 2-2.
Pakistan also won the last ODI series the two team played against each other.
To say this will be a match between India’s batting strength and Pakistan’s bowling lineup would be a simplification but not entirely untrue. Three of the top-5 scorers in the tournament are Indian. Both Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma have scored over 300 runs in the competition while in comparison only Azhar Ali sits at 9th in the top-10 run scorers for this competition with 169 runs.
When it comes to the number of sixes hit in this tournament, no Pakistani batsmen has hit more than 3 while Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Hardik Pandya have all done better.
The bowling is more matched as Hasan Ali leads the wicket-taking charts with 10 wickets and Junaid Khan has taken 7 wickets even though he has played a match lesser than the others. India, on the other hand, have Bhuvaneshwar Kumar as their best bowler with 6 wickets.
It is often said that bowlers win you matches, but it remains to be seen whether the Pakistani bowlers can recreate their magic at the Oval.
Players to watch out for
India’s top-3 batsmen have been their lifeline this tournament so much so that the lower order has not really been tested. Interestingly, Junaid Khan has tasted a lot of success against Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in the past and even called them out before the tournament began.
The Wolf thinks Virat Kohli has just returned to his best form and is peaking perfectly in time for the finals. He has 253 runs in this tournament and has only been out once so far. Back him to be the top batsman for India in this match.
Pakistan did not have Fakhar Zaman in their team when they met India at Birmingham. The young left-hander has played positively and been instrumental in getting Pakistan to a solid start. He plays a high-risk game but could be crucial in throwing the Indian bowlers off their length in this match.
Bhuvaneshwar Kumar has established himself as the best bowler for India in the shorter formats of the game, He has gained pace since he made his debut, added the Yorker to his armory and continues to swing the new ball up front. He is the Wolf’s pick to the top bowler for India in this match.
Junaid Khan will have the responsibility of getting past India’s premier batsmen in this match. It is strange to wonder why he was left out of the first match at all but it means that Junaid has not been scarred from that defeat. His spell with the new ball could well decide the match for Pakistan.
Pitch and Conditions
The Oval is one of the highest scoring grounds anywhere in the world and has seen an average 1st innings score of 293 since the 2015 world cup. Pakistan has probably the weakest batting lineup in this tournament and will be desperate to keep India around 260 at the most if they are to chase it down.
The conditions are expected to overcast and some rain is forecast for the final. There is a reserve day, just in case things get out of hand!
India to win a close final.