The final of the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy between India and Pakistan will take place at the Oval in London, which probably could be called a batsman’s paradise.
The very first match of the tournament was played here and Bangladesh scored a decent 306, but England chased that down in the 48th over with 8 wickets to spare.
India made 321, but Sri Lanka finished off the target in the 49th over with 7 wickets to spare.
Of course that's not to say there haven't been batting collapses. South Africa made 299 and Lanka crashed to 203. South Africa then crashed to 191 with India and Bangladesh could muster up only 182 with Australia.
What this means is that if a batsman gets in the Oval, he stays in even as bowlers desperately need early breakthroughs to stay relevant throughout the innings.
Pakistani fast bowlers Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan will desperately seek early wickets with India—otherwise India will simply run away with the match.
Pakistani batting and spin bowling has not been that impressive and that means the Pakistani fast bowlers are the best chance the team has in going past India.
However they are at a bit of a disadvantage. They haven't played a single match in CT 2017 at the Oval as all their matches were in Birmingham and Cardiff.
That's where the Indian fast bowlers might fare much better. We got absolutely belted in the match with Sri Lanka. Hardik Pandya went at 7.3 runs an over while Umesh Yadav went at 6.9.
However in that match both Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah held their grounds giving 54 and 52 runs in their 10 overs respectively.
With South Africa both were a revelation on the same ground as Bhuvi took 2-23. Bumrah took 2-28 and was declared the man of the match. Both continued to shine in the semis as Bhuvi took 2-53 and Bumrah 2-39.
Bumrah has emerged as our strike bowler in this tournament ably supported by Bhuvi. Both of them have a career economy rate below 5 which is quite rare in today’s high scoring slam bam cricket.
Bumrah also has a good 26 wickets in just 15 ODIs and that's a great beginning. The weak link continues to be Pandya and he went for a whopping 8.5 runs per over in his brief spell in the semis.
The spinners have also been missing in action in this tournament at the Oval and the only exception was Imran Tahir, who took 4 wickets for South Africa in the match against Sri Lanka. Thanks to that the Lankans collapsed to 203 all out in just 41.3 overs.
So the team management may also be tempted to go in for four fast bowlers and just one spinner thanks to Kedar Jadhav’s theatrics in the semis.
Jadhav’s figures of 6-0-22-2 (economy rate 3.66) would have done any frontline bowler proud.
Sir Ravindra Jadeja has just about held his ground in the tournament though Ravichandran Ashwin has been a disappointment.
While he has been our Test mainstay, he was in and out of MS Dhoni’s ODI and Chennai Super Kings teams.
Virat Kohli has also kept out Ashwin earlier in the tournament and he has not impressed in the two matches that he played. While his figures of 1-43 in the match with South Africa were decent, his 0-54 with Bangladesh was disappointing.
In the batting department Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Kohli together have formed the backbone of the batting scoring more than 850 runs between them in the tournament.
In the bowling department it's been Bumrah, Bhuvi and Jadeja and their tournament economy rates are 4.3, 4.7 and 5.35 respectively.
In the end it may not matter and the batsmen may finish off things in style for India. But be sure that the Pakistani batsmen will attack India’s fourth and fifth bowlers, so the team management still has its task cut out.
If India can solve their conundrum of the third fast bowler, then Pakistani batsmen will find no leeway in the final. Should India continue with Pandya or bring back Umesh who the Lankans belted? Or should we spring a surprise and introduce Mohammed Shami as a dark horse? Is he fighting fit to be put straight into a final?
There is a chance that the team management may keep the same playing XI and stick to the winning combination for the finals too. In that case Pandya and Ashwin will simply have to pull up their socks.