If asked to specify two significance of a global cricketing tournament, one among the two answers is certain to be “You can witness an India versus Pakistan clash”. Such has been the hype around this rivalry that the ICC has utilized the rift between the countries, making sure of a group stage date between them in big tournaments — a definite blockbuster in all aspects. A second meeting between the two is an added bonus to the coffers but has only happened once over the past few years.
A good tournament is one that doesn’t produce predictable results and keeps everyone guessing. This tournament has made a perfect balance between the expected and unexpected. With two more matches, Group B was open to all the four teams. India and Pakistan entered the semis. The final match in Group A saw former minnows chasing down a decent target to make it their first semifinal in an ICC tournament. England and Bangladesh proceeded to last four. One semifinal came out as expected and the other didn’t, making way for a finale between the two neighbors.
Not as easy as the opening clash
It was a cakewalk for India when they took on Pakistan at the start of the tournament. But that may not be the case now. So noisy were the talks surrounding the Pakistan team that even Chacha Chicago, an ardent follower of the men in green, opted to support India this time suggesting there is a gulf between the quality of cricket played between the two teams. Beginning the tournament by fulfilling the expectations of a majority of cricket watching public and aficionados, they turned things around in their own erratic fashion crashlanding the favorites along the way. Luck and Sri Lanka’s butter fingers had its share in Pakistan entering the Semifinals, but not during it. It was one match where they gave nothing to the opposition, unlike their previous ones. You could see an elated Mickey Arthur and Sarfraz Ahmed in the Pakistan dressing room as Hafeez hit the winning runs. Of course, they had every reason to be. After a disappointing start, Hasan Ali and co. have redeemed themselves and would like to amend their performance against India in the final. Their batting too was rampant against England.
Historically, the contest within the contest has always been India’s batting versus Pakistan’s bowling. India would face an improved attack this time, but with the kind of form that they are in, the Pakistan bowlers would need to bend a bit more to cause serious trouble to the Indian batsmen. Rohit, Dhawan and Kohli have done the Himalayan scoring for India , a staggering 874 runs among them. Virat can boast about possessing the two most experienced middle order batsmen in Yuvraj and Dhoni. Both know how to go about a final and could be the ears to lend, if Virat needs them. The Indian bowlers didn’t cause much trouble for the Bangladesh batsmen before they found some solace with Jadhav’s part time and Bumrah. But they have the gasoline for a better performance. The skipper doesn’t mind going with horses for courses with the bowling department, and one has to wait and see if he would disrupt the winning combination.
A finale packed with emotions
Starting their champions Trophy itinerary against each other, India and Pakistan will end with the same. A billion would be glued to television screens on Sunday to witness their favorite sporting extravaganza The atmosphere surrounding the game would be second to none. The India-Pakistan battle minus politics and bloodshed has always been exciting. This is not an extension of what is going on in the border between the countries, but a game where a Pakistani applauds a Virat Kohli cover drive and an Indian getting mesmerized by a fiery spell from Wahab Riaz. There is not much hate in the tussle between the bat and ball, but a purest form of competitiveness where only the game wins in the end. The finale of ICC Champions Trophy 2017 may have been another match before the tournament began but India versus Pakistan has turned it into an emotion.