India vs Pak ICC Champions Trophy 2017: On Father's Day, mother of all finals

India vs Pak ICC Champions Trophy 2017: On Father's Day, mother of all finals. On English soil, they have beaten Pakistan three out of four times in ODIs stretching back to the 1999 World Cup. India vs Pakistan, ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final: In London today, cricket’s El Dorado, Live Score, wickets, Runs.


LONDON 18 June, 2017: How does one caliper for madness? Is it possible to prepare for  havoc? A day before it plays host to 25,000 screaming hordes rooting either for India or Pakistan, a day before it loses its very identity for a while, the Oval seemed an ocean of calm.

All the Workers meticulously went about their preparations. All the Security drills were run through, and then run through again. All the Volunteers even rehearsed signals for traffic diversions. And All the cricketers went through their paces with religious zeal, clenching their jaws each time the magnitude of the game threatened to creep up at the back of the mind.

Both teams will be hoping these three qualities - Toil, Preparation, and Repetition, can take them over the line on Sunday. Some experienced sportsmen seem aware of how big contests can begin to acquire a life of their own, a tapestry involving both those watching and those playing, become ebbing, flowing beasts with their own momentum. These two big-game hunters can insulate themselves just enough to ride with the tide and fashion their own destiny .Which side has more of these players? Does endless training blunt even fear of failure?

India, it would seem, have everything to lose. They are the only team to have lived up to the pre-tournament billing. They finally seem to have a settled combination. They have scored the most runs, 1074, of any team, with their top three batsmen scoring 81.38% of those. 

On English soil, they have beaten Pakistan three out of four times in ODIs stretching back to the 1999 World Cup. Their seamers have managed to throttle the opposition's top-order batsmen. Even part-time spinners have sizzled.

The only time the illusion got shattered was against Sri Lanka but that slip-up has since been rectified with a personnel change. The tweaked pairing of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah has worked. Add Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli's ice-cool scything of opposition bowlers and you have the perfect winning machine. Barring fitness issues (Ashwin has an injury scare), Kohli said he wasn't amenable to changing the XI.

India have resembled the Nordic hordes of the past, ruthless and relentless, striking with impunity and inspiring fear.

Except no one can predict the mind, and how it will react in times of trouble. Just like no one can predict Team Pakistan, and how it will play in a game against India. 

On the face of it, Pakistan have over-reached in reaching London. They just about scraped through into the tournament as the bottom-ranked team, but magically transmogrified into giant-killers against England in the semis. But that's Pakistan for you. Somehow, they seem to evade analysis, and this is Pakistan's greatest strength. In key games, they can function bigger than the sum of their parts. This is what makes them dangerous.

They have taken the most wickets of any team, 28, with two bowlers, Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan, having accounted for 17 of those. With the ball, they have ruled the middle overs, a key area which might decide the game. They have unveiled at least two champion performers in Fakhar Zaman and Hasan Ali. They have Junaid, who seems to have made Virat Kohli his bunny, and old guard Shoaib Malik. Mohd Amir is fit to play, Rumman Raees might sit out. This team doesn't resemble the one which had lost to India at Edgbaston.

Pakistan's formula has been to chase, but they have haven't yet played at the Oval, where the average first-innings score since 2015 has been 293. India scored 321 against Lanka here and lost. This is a fresh, dry pitch. While their bowlers are the lead actors, Pakistan's batsmen must be prepared to raise their game if needed.