Champions Trophy final more like a war than a match

Kersi Meher-Homji Columnist

By , Kersi Meher-Homji is a Roar Expert

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    Sporting clashes between India and Pakistan are more than just matches on the field. There are more war cries than ear-splitting appeals to the umpire.

    When Aussie mates tell me about the intensity of an Ashes series, I tell them Paul Hogan style, “That’s not a knife, THAT’S a knife.” The Indo-Pak clashes are the size of Hogan’s dagger.

    Any Pak-Indo clash is a mega event on the subcontinent but today’s match will have a sharp edge. It will be the first final between the two countries since 2008 and the first time they will be contesting the final of an ICC organised 50-over event – World Cup or Champions Trophy.

    The two teams met on fourth June in the current Champions Trophy which India won convincingly by 124 runs. However, Pakistan is riding high after beating Sri Lanka and then slaughtering undefeated England by eight wickets with 77 balls remaining in the first semi-final.

    The Indian batsmen, especially openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma, are in majestic form. Not to forget skipper Virat Kohli who averages an incredible 253.00 with the bat.

    India won the toss and sent Bangladesh into bat who made seven for 264 after 50 overs.

    India’s in-form openers Dhawan and Sharma attacked with gusto and put on 87 runs off 88 balls before Dhawan was dismissed for 46. Then Kohli joined Sharma and it was massacre of the innocents as they put on 178 runs for the unbroken second wicket off only 153 balls.

    Man-of-the-match Sharma hit an unbeaten 123 off 129 balls with 15 fours and a six. Kohli smashed an unbeaten 96 in 78 balls with 13 fours.

    Dhawan has amassed the most number of runs so far in the 2017 Champions Trophy; 317 at 79.25, highest score 125. Sharma comes a close second, 304 at 101.33 (HS 123 not out). Kohli has stroked 253 runs at 253.00 (HS 96 not out).

    All three are in the running to receive the Golden Bat, awarded to the batsman scoring most runs.

    Dhawan is the only batsman to amass over 300 runs in two CTs, having scored 363 runs at 90.75 in 2013.

    Just as Indians have dominated the batting, Pakistanis have dominated the bowling in this CT.

    Three Indian bats (Dhawan at number 1, Sharma at No.2 and Kohli at No.5) are in top 5. But no Pak bat is in top 8.

    Conversely, two Pakistan bowlers, Hasan Ali (10 wickets at 17.20) at no.1 and Junaid Khan (seven wickets at 19.28) at No.4 are in top 4. But no Indian bowler is in top 6.

    So the final will be fought by Pakistan’s bowlers against Indian batsmen. In the match against Bangladesh Kohli became the quickest to reach 8000 runs in 175 ODIs. The record was previously held by South Africa’s AB deVilliers (8000th run in 182 ODIs).

    Just as the Indian and Bangladeshi fans had cheered their teams lustily in the semi final on Thursday, there will be Pakistani and Indian fans in thousands roaring for their country.

    Are there any Englishmen left in England? The TV cameras focussed on the fans in Bangladeshi greens and Indian blues. I’m sure the Pakistani greens and Indian blues will eclipse the home crowd in the final.

    India looks set to retain the Champions Trophy.

    Kersi Meher-Homji
    Kersi Meher-Homji

    Kersi is an author of 13 cricket books including The Waugh Twins, Cricket's Great All-rounders,Six Appeal and Nervous Nineties. He writes regularly for Inside Cricket and other publications. He has recently finished his new book on Cricket's Conflicts and Controversies, with a foreword by Greg Chappell.

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