World game's biggest match to decide Champions Trophy title


India captain Virat Kohli said staying "close to reality" was the best way to carry the hopes of a cricket-crazy nation heading into a Champions Trophy final against arch-rivals Pakistan.

And that's why, the 28-year-old India skipper said he was hoping for a very well contested Champions trophy final.

India have won four of their last five ODI matches against Pakistan, including a 124-run victory earlier in this tournament during the group stage.

It's a dream final for both fans and cricketers alike.

'The way the players have dragged themselves off the canvas after that defeat by India has been fantastic, ' said Pakistan's South African coach Mickey Arthur.

Pakistan recovered their composure to record back-to-back victories in Cardiff, the first over Sri Lanka taking them through to the semi-final stage and the second knocking England out of their own tournament three days ago.

In 2015, India beat Pakistan by 76 runs at the World Cup in Sydney, Australia while the following year, Pakistan lost by six wickets during the World Twenty20 in Kolkata, India.

Team India has outclassed their opponent in three of their four games so far and recently pummelled the most improved team in the worldwide circuit, Bangladesh in the semi-finals to book their place in the final.

Following that humbling defeat to their archrival, the Pakistanis had to beat South Africa and Sri Lanka, and did so.

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He said India s batting order is decorated with many brilliant talents, but the Pakistan bowlers will realise the paramount importance of controlling Virat Kohli. We play to win every match.

"This is the game they want, but it is up to us how we handle the pressure on the day".

"We've got nothing to lose - the pressure is more on them", the Dawn quoted Azhar as saying.

Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, says he has learned from the first game in the tournament and tried to be more relaxed this time around despite what is at stake. "That said, the ICC Champions Trophy is the only event where it has defeated India, not once but twice - in 2004 at Southampton and in 2009 at Centurion", wrote Hussey.

"Being the most marketable and possibly the most popular personality in a nation of 1.3bn people brings its own pressures: he simply can not move without being begged for a selfie and his every move, word and even gesture is relentlessly reported in print, electronic and social media".

Former Pakistan bowler Shoaib Akhtar had tweeted: "we are already proud of you Pak team so go out there enjoy & be positive".

Azhar Ali and Fakhar Zaman have brought up their fifties as Pakistan are off to a flying start in an all important final.

Many regarded the semi-final against an in-form England side as a step too far for Sarfraz's men, but once again Pakistan defied expectations, romping to an eight-wicket win, largely thanks to another scintillating bowling display.