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ICC Champions Trophy 2017 India-Pakistan final: A bouncy road ahead for Virat & company
India's emphatic win over Bangladesh yesterday in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 was more or less expected. Although, Bangladesh was high on confidence after defeating New Zealand, but most cricket pundits were of the opinion that Team India will not lose this opportunity to flex its muscles prior to the final on Sunday.

Unless Bangladesh was able to repeat its superb performance of theICC Cricket World Cup 2007 displayed at Port of Spain, where it had thrown India out of the tournament in the initial round, India's win of Thursday was almost certain.

Still, all out efforts were undertaken by Virat & company in the game against Bangladesh. Apart from paving the way for Team India in reaching the final, the win against Bangladesh will also facilitate the team management to have a first hand view of the level of preparation and mental status of our boys, especially in the bowling and fielding arena. Indian batting on the other hand has by and large proved to be quite dependable in the tournament.

Many of my cricket loving friends are eagerly awaitingIndia encountering Pakistan in the final on Sundayand expect that both the teams will give their best. But, here lies the catch. Pakistan registered a very impressive victory over England in their own backyard by 8 wickets in the first semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. We must not forget that the pitches in England are most suitedto English bowlers and batsmen. So, on a personal note, I intend to define Pakistan's victory againstEngland in the semi-final as its sheer determination and aggression. Pakistanhas got a very valid reason for its inflated confidence as after a huge defeat at the hands of arch rivals India, the team has staged a stunning comeback by defeating world number one South Africa, Sri Lanka and now England.

While looking at the bowling stats of Pakistan during the semi-final match against England, I noticed that bowlers of less prominence who are by no means big names in international cricket finished with impressive figures. Most noteworthy performances were – Hasan Ali 3/35, Junaid Khan 2/42 and Rummaan Raees 2/44. Pakistani bowling was impressive and stood out against England at Cardiff.

Their batsman also played in the most responsible manner which their scorecard clearly shows. Azhar scored 76 off 100 balls followed by Fakhar Zaman who scored 57 in 58 balls. Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafiz also contributed vital 38 and 31 runs respectively and remained unbeaten till the end. This clearly underlines the capabilities of a team that came into the tournament as an underdog.

As far as Team India is concerned, it just needs to do a repeat of its excellent performance shown against mighty South Africa, a game which India had won by 8 wickets. To be honest, if R Ashwin, Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Bumrah give their best and Jadeja-Yadav duo is able to keep the run rate under control, along with good support of fielding, our chances are far brighter in the match. The only danger standing in the way is the fact that Pakistan has reached the final of Champions Trophy for the very first time and is under tremendous pressure to make history.

So, in my view, besides technique, team work, toss and luck, the deciding factor is going to be the ability to handle pressure. With the support of wily old fox MS Dhoni, confident Virat has certainly has the edge in this encounter. So, get ready for a firebrand, spicy and thrilling cricketing fight on Sunday.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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