Arch-rivals India and Pakistan will face each other this Sunday in the ICC Champions Trophy final in a match that is expected to excite.
On Wednesday, the underdogs, Pakistan, unexpectedly defeated England by eight wickets to reach the final. India secured their sport via a nine-wicket thrashing of Bangladesh on Thursday.
Pakistan achieve the impossible
At the start of the tournament, Pakistan were considered the underdogs of their group, which they shared with South Africa, Sri Lanka and India.
In their tournament opener against India, the Men in Green were severely defeated by a 124-run difference. However, the Safraz Ahmed-led side gave two impressive performances against South Africa and Sri Lanka.
In a rain-affected match, Pakistan managed to defeat the number-one team in the ICC ODI Rankings, South Africa, by 19 runs.
The game against Sri Lanka was a live-or-die bout to reach the semi-finals. Pakistan showed some impressive skills to overthrow Sri Lanka by three wickets.
Little-fancied Pakistan had reached the semi-finals. England, the locals and favourites, were their rivals.
In a one-sided semifinal, the Green Shirts won the toss and opted to field first. Pakistan restricted the hosts to a scant total of 211 runs. England were unable to establish significant partnerships as the Pakistani bowlers led the way with the ball. The hosts’ batsmen gave a disappointing effort, pegged back by Pakistan's bowling. Only Joe Root managed to score consistently.
In reply, Fakhar Zaman and Azhar Ali shared a stand of 118 runs to lead the Green Shirts to their target. It was Pakistan’s first century opening for 35 ODIs. Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez completed the act with nearly 13 overs to spare.
This is the first time that Pakistan have qualified for a Champions Trophy final.
India: the defending champions
India are in the ICC Champions Trophy final for a second consecutive time. Back in 2013, the Blues defeated England in a 20-over rain-affected final. This year, they arrived as favourites, along with England and South Africa.
In their opening match, the Men in Blue defeated their rivals in the final, Pakistan, by 124 runs.
They collapsed against Sri Lanka in their second match, losing by seven wickets, but assured a semi-final space in their last group-stage game against South Africa, beating them by eight wickets.
Bangladesh, the second-ranked side in Group A, were their semi-final rivals. It was the Tigers’ first appearance in a semi-final of any ICC competition.
India were dominant. They won the toss and decided to field first. Bangladesh were effective with the bat, posting 264 runs from their 50 overs, but India’s response was outstanding. Openers Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharama achieved an 87-run stand before the former was dismissed. Virat Kohli took his spot and remained unbeaten on 95 as India reached their target with nine wickets in hand and 59 balls remaining.
Rohit scored his 11th ODI century and became the tournament's leading run-scorer.
This is the fourth time that India have reached the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, having done so in 2000, 2002 and 2013.