India and Pakistan will meet in an ICC ODI tournament finale for the first time    Getty Images
India and Pakistan will meet in an ICC ODI tournament finale for the first time Getty Images

Newspapers have their layouts prepared. Harsha Bhogle will articulate his thoughts in 140 characters on Twitter. The preparations are already in full swing as I write this, as ICC Champions Trophy 2017‘s summit clash is set to take place on Sunday, between India and Pakistan. It is arguably the mother of all clashes, albeit it is a tournament finale. After all, cricketing fraternity will witness an India-Pakistan finale after 10 years in a major ICC event. It doesn’t get better than this, does it? It is anticipated to be a blockbuster of a contest at The Oval, London. Nonetheless, in the run-up to the marquee clash, let us reflect on the past encounters from Champions Trophy history between the two arch-rivals.

Pakistan make inroads in first face-off

In 2004 edition, Inzamam-ul-Haq’s side opted to bowl. India’s top order were under the radar against the likes of Shoaib Akhtar, Mohammad Sami and Abdul Razzaq in a packed house. Inzamam’s decision paid dividends as Ganguly-led side were in tatters at 73 for 5 inside 20 overs. The pace, bounce and movement had India reeling in a spot of bother before Rahul Dravid (67) found company from Ajit Agarkar (47) to steer the team total to the 200-run mark.

The 82-run stand for the seventh wicket between Dravid and Agarkar rescued India from embarrassment. Interestingly, the highest seventh-wicket stand between both sides, till date, is shared by MS Dhoni and Ravichandran Ashwin (125 runs) in Chennai, 2013. It was a significant feat but not enough to keep India’s dominance in ICC events intact versus their neighbours. They lost their first clash versus Pakistan in a major competition courtesy Mohammad Yousuf’s 81, Inzamam’s 41 and final onslaught led by Shahid Afridi. Irfan Pathan ended with figures of 9-0-34-3, but India were knocked out of the competition by virtue of this defeat.

India messes it up again in 2009

ICC Champions Trophy 2009 set up the second meeting between India and Pakistan at Centurion. The Men in Green opted to bat with an aim to keep the opposition under ‘scoreboard pressure’. It was not a pleasant start as they were restricted to 65 for 3 before Shoaib Malik and Yousuf started the resurgence. The duo stitched a 206-run stand (highest fourth wicket stand between both sides) to register 302 for 9 in 50 overs.

In reply, India were 133 for 4 before Dravid held the innings single-handedly. He found support from Suresh Raina (46) but his dismissal added pressure on the senior pro. India folded for 248 in 44.2 overs. At one stage, India required 98 off 90 balls but lost plot from thereon. No show from the top order and Yuvraj Singh’s absence did not help India’s cause. As a result, they again faltered versus Pakistan in a Champions Trophy encounter. With 16 fours and a strike-rate of 101.58, Malik was adjudged Man of the Match for his 126-ball 128.

India finally have the last laugh

In the previous edition of Champions Trophy, India opted to bowl in overcast conditions at Edgbaston. Pakistan’s innings got off to a poor start with Indian seamers, led by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ishant Sharma, making things difficult for the opposition. Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq looked in control before rain interruptions and Ravindra Jadeja’s purple patch caught them in a fix. They succumbed to 165 in 39.4 overs in front of an in-form side.

Rain continued to play spoilsport and it looked like there would be no further game possible. Indian cricket team had to wait for a long time to commence their chase. Duckworth-Lewis method came into play and the revised target was 102 in 22 overs. Shikhar Dhawan’s 48 and Virat Kohli’s 22 not out made light work of the chase and India won their first game against Pakistan in tournament history.

Bullish India ensure smooth win over hapless neighbours

No one dared to bet their money on Pakistan when these two sides locked horns at Edgbaston in match 4 of the ongoing championship. Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and opted to field. In overcast conditions, he resorted to Imad Wasim’s spin as Indian openers made amends of the move. Pakistan had to slog it till the 25th over to earn their first scalp. Dhawan and Rohit Sharma added 136 runs for the opening wicket before the momentum was carried forward from Kohli, Yuvraj Singh and Hardik Pandya in the death overs. As a result, India posted 319 for 3 in a rain-marred match.

Pakistan displayed no fight in pursuit of 289 in 41 overs (overs reduced due to rain). They were poor in strike-rotation and building effective partnerships in the middle. Azhar Ali’s 50 never bothered to take the game away from the opposition, and Pakistan folded for 164 in 33.1 overs. Yuvraj’s 32-ball 53 provided his side with much-needed impetus and was adjudged the Man of the Match.

Mauka-mauka, but for whom?

Contrary to India’s dominance in World Cup events, Pakistan have not allowed their neighbours to dominate proceedings in Champions Trophy. So far, both sides have fared decently and the scoreline reads 2-2. Hence, everything will be up for grabs in the riveting clash.

Last chance?

From India’s perspective, the decider could mark the last Champions Trophy match for veterans Dhoni and Yuvraj. On the other hand, Pakistan’s Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez would be donning their national jersey for the last time in the tournament’s history. With Champions Trophy and the above mentioned players’ future being uncertain, they will be banking on Sunday’s match and dictate terms to end on a winning note.

CT record

India have a staggering record in Champions Trophy. With 18 wins from 28 encounters, they boast of a win per cent of 64.28 most for any team in the history of tournament.

Meanwhile, Pakistan have a mediocre record of 45.45. Nonetheless, all this won’t matter on the big day at The Oval, London.

Trivia

Interestingly, Dhoni’s maiden ICC tournament final, as skipper, was against Pakistan. Kohli-led side will also face the same opponents.

Ironically, whenever England have hosted the tournament, India and Pakistan have locked horns at Edgbaston, Birmingham. Sunday’s clash will be the first encounter between these sides to be hosted at The Oval, London.

In 10 ODI finals, Pakistan have a staggering record over India, winning 7 out of 10.

This will be the maiden ICC ODI tournament final between India and Pakistan. The only ICC final played between both sides came in 2007 during the inaugural edition of ICC WT20.

A typical Indo-Pak rivalry awaits?

The ICC Champions Trophy 2017 has witnessed it all. While the first few days were ruled by rain, one-sided affairs, and Pakistan’s shabby performance, the script changed drastically since then. The big guns Australia, New Zealand, England and South Africa have choked and bowed out of the tournament. India, touted title contenders before the competition, are the only team to have thrived on their tag. Will they stage another prolific performance on the finale? It won’t be easy against a side which led to the drubbing of two red-hot teams. Pakistan have turned the tides and dictated the tournament by virtue of their unpredictability.

Overall, expect fireworks when Kohli’s men take the field with the aim to become the second side, after Australia, to defend the title.