Friday, June 16, 2017

It doesn't get bigger than Pakistan vs India in an ICC Tournament Final

In Champions Trophy 2013, Pakistan lost all their group matches. In 2015, Pakistan had to beat Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka in order to qualify for Champions Trophy 2015. When they lost their first group match to India, Pakistan had lost 6 successive Champions Trophy matches.

Now they are in the Final.

Only Pakistan can take you through such a rollercoaster ride.

Cricket doesn't get bigger than Pakistan vs India. When it is a final of a tournament, it is even bigger. And when it is a final of an ICC tournament, it is the biggest!

Pakistan and India have met thrice in knock out matches in an ICC tournament and all three matches have resulted in heartbreaks for Pakistan's fans. The pressure of all the heartbreaks caused in Bangalore '96, Johannesburg '07, and Mohali '11 is on Sarfraz Ahmed and his young team.

Over 100 million fans will be praying for this Pakistan team to achieve what Wasim, Waqar, Inzamam, Miandad, Misbah, Afridi, and Younis could not over the past 20 years.

The odds however are heavily in India's favor.

Even though the record reads 2-2 in ICC Champions Trophy, it is 3-0 to India in ICC knock out games, and 12-2 to India in all ICC tournaments.

On top of that, India arguably have the best batting line up, not only in this Champions Trophy, but in the world.

Moreover, they are led by the world's best ODI batsman whose last 6 innings against Pakistan in ICC tournaments look like this:

78* at WorldT20 2012
22* at Champions Trophy 2013
36* at World T20 2014
107 at World Cup 2015
55* at World T20 2016
81* at Champions Trophy 2017

How do you tame a batsman like that? How do you tame a batting line up that is leading the runs charts in the Champions Trophy? How do you tame a team that you have not beaten in any form of the game in over 3 years? How do you tame a team that trounced you by 124 runs less than two weeks ago?

Sarfraz and Micky Arthur will be pondering about the same questions.

The answers are Pakistan's bowlers. It is them who have got Pakistan this far, and it is them who can take them to the trophy.

Hasan Ali is the leading wicket taker in this Champions Trophy, while Junaid Khan, who was not played against India, is among the top 5.

In a tournament, which was billed as high scoring with 300 runs considered a par score, Pakistan has 7 bowlers who have an economy rate of below 5 in this Champions Trophy.

Three of Pakistan's bowlers have a bowling average below 20 in this Champions Trophy.

Three of Pakistan's bowlers are picking up wickets every 4 overs in this Champion Trophy.

Pakistan's bowlers have restricted teams to under 240 in three successive games in a tournament where other bowlers are being smashed around for 300+ scores.

Only India managed to thrash Pakistan's bowlers around; however the story may have been different had Pakistan played the right team (Junaid instead of Wahab) and had Pakistan not dropped two key catches.

Bowling is Pakistan's strength, it has been forever, and the way they have leveraged on this strength in this tournament has been phenomenal. Realizing their limited batting capability, Pakistan ensured their bowlers restricted oppositions to a total that gave them chaseable targets within Pakistan's range.

This is how they will tame India. It is the only way.

Junaid Khan has played 5 ODIs against India, in which he has picked up 8 wickets at an average of 20. In the series in 2012, Junaid snared Kohli in each of the 3 ODIs for single digit scores.

Makes you wonder why they preferred Wahab over him in the group game.

Junaid will be key for Pakistan. As will be Aamer and Hasan Ali.

Pakistan's only chance on Sunday is to put a brake on India's batting juggernaut. If they can do that, then Pakistan will join India, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies in an elite group of nations who have won all ICC trophies - The World Cup, World T20, and Champions Trophy.

Make your pitch on this post...

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2 Pitched:

  1. Unknown said...

    Zabardast analysis. Hope and pray to win.

  2. Anonymous said...

    the only way to tame virat kohli at the moment is to bowl in that corridor of uncertainity outside off stump where he tends to throw his hands but I doubt pakistani bowlers are that patient.

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