Champions Trophy: India vs Pakistan: Road to the final

Last Updated: Sat, Jun 17, 2017 14:52 hrs
Virat Kohli will be eyeing to win a major ICC trophy for the first time under his captaincy.

If the 2017 Champions Trophy was ever scripted, it couldn't have been a better climax than pitting India against Pakistan in the final.

Balancing its narratives across timelines, Sunday will once again unite an entire nation with both young and old glued to their television sets and the tension it produces is palpable.

It's a broadcaster’s delight; it’s a treat for cricket fans with passions and emotions running high.

Make way for the mother of all battles.

After India thrashed Pakistan by a massive 124 runs in their opening match, not many gave Pakistan a chance. However, as they have done so often in the past, they pulled up their socks when it mattered and won their next three matches to reach the summit clash.

India suffered a hiccup against Sri Lanka but won in a canter in the other three matches to set up a mouth-watering finale against their arch rivals.

A look at how the two teams made their way to the grand finale.

India's Road to Final

Group B: India v Pakistan at Birmingham - June 4, 2017

India 319/3 (48/48 overs); Pakistan 164 (33.4/41 overs, target: 289)

India won by 124 runs (D/L method)

Defending champions India kick-started their campaign in an emphatic fashion by defeating Pakistan in their opening game.

Put into bat, India got off to a good start through Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan. However, they lost their way in the middle and looked set for just a par score.

It was then Yuvraj Singh who rolled back the years with a vintage knock that reminded his fans of his pomp. Yuvraj scored 53 off just 32 balls with eight fours and a six.

Kohli mentioned how Yuvraj’s knock took the pressure off him as India posted a formidable 319/3 off their 48 overs. In reply, Pakistan were never in the hunt and put up an insipid display with the bat to get bowled out for 164. They lost by a margin of 124 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method

Group B: India v Sri Lanka at The Oval - June 8, 2017

India 321/6 (50/50 overs); Sri Lanka 322/3 (48.4/50 overs)

Sri Lanka won by 7 wickets (with 8 balls remaining)

Having defeated Pakistan, a confident India took on Sri Lanka with a win guaranteeing them a place in the semi-final.

The Indian openers carried on their good form to put up another century partnership with Dhawan scoring his third century in Champions Trophy history.

India scored a formidable 321/6 and gave an impression that they were through to the semis without breaking much sweat.

However, it was an anti-climax as the Indian bowlers had an off day and Sri Lanka gunned down the target with eight balls to spare.

Group B: India v South Africa at The Oval - June 11, 2017

South Africa 191 (44.3/50 overs); India 193/2 (38/50 overs)

India won by 8 wickets (with 72 balls remaining)

It was a do-or-die clash against South Africa and after a dressing down from skipper Virat Kohli, Team India breathed fire and came up with a splendid performance.

Hashim Amla and Quinton de Kock gave South Africa a solid start and although the openers departed, the Proteas were eyeing a score of 300 plus. However, the Indian fielders had a spring in their feet as they applied the choke and South Africa tightened it.

Chasing 192 runs to win, India knocked off the runs for the loss of just two wickets with 12 overs to spare. Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma came up with useful contributions to help India enter the semi-final.

2nd Semi-final: India v Bangladesh at Birmingham - June 15, 2017

Bangladesh 264/7 (50/50 overs); India 265/1 (40.1/50 overs)

India won by 9 wickets (with 59 balls remaining)

Before the semi-final, a Bangladeshi agency carried a picture of a tiger donning the Bangladesh flag chasing a dog. After 24 hours, Bangladesh had to find a place to hide as India beat them black and blue to set a date with Pakistan in the final.

India went with a bowler short and that was exposed in the middle when Hardik Pandya leaked runs and Jasprit Bumrah lacked control.

Chief strategist MS Dhoni and captain Virat Kohli decided to bring on Kedar Jadhav. It was a move that saw India not only apply brakes but also pick wickets. Jadhav did his job by removing Tamim Iqbal and the well-set Mushfiqur Rahim.

Off went Jadhav and in came the specialists who did the job aplomb as India restricted Bangladesh to 264.

In the chase, Dhawan eclipsed Sourav Ganguly, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma exhibited exquisite batsmanship with Rohit notching a ton and Kohli breaking yet another record.

Phew that was some batting!

Pakistan's Road to Final

Group B: India v Pakistan at Birmingham - June 4, 2017

India 319/3 (48/48 overs); Pakistan 164 (33.4/41 overs, target: 289)

India won by 124 runs (D/L method)

Unpredictable is a tag that Pakistan will carry forever. A timid performance against India saw Pakistan getting thrashed not only by experts but also by fans.

It seemed Pakistan just turned up dutifully dressed in green just for their national anthem!

Pakistan head coach Mikey Arthur was speechless, skipper Sarfraz Ahmed couldn’t find words to describe their performance and back home the crowd at Rawalpindi and Lahore went bonkers.

But wait, here’s the kick. Fortunes just smiled on Pakistan.

Group B: Pakistan v South Africa at Birmingham - June 7, 2017

South Africa 219/8 (50/50 overs); Pakistan 119/3 (27/27 overs, target: 101)

Pakistan won by 19 runs (D/L method)

Pakistani bowlers took the initiative and under cloudy skies restricted South Africa to 219. Hasan Ali and Junaid Khan brought all their skills into play to baffle the South African batting line-up.

With rain in the air, debutant Fakhar Zaman scored a quick fire 31 off just 23 balls as Pakistan raced away and were ahead by the DRS calculator when rain stopped play. To their luck, the match was abandoned as Pakistan won the match by 19 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method.

Alive and kicking!

Group B: Pakistan v Sri Lanka at Cardiff - June 12, 2017

Sri Lanka 236 (49.2/50 overs); Pakistan 237/7 (44.5/50 overs)

Pakistan won by 3 wickets (with 31 balls remaining)

In a virtual quarter-final, Pakistan’s bowlers continued their good show and kept chipping away at key intervals. Other than Niroshan Dickwella, no batsman made a sizable contribution and Sri Lanka were bowled out for 236.

Zaman with an enterprising fifty gave Pakistan a solid start but a typical collapse saw Pakistan tottering at 162/7.

From them it was Sri Lanka’s match to lose and they lost courtesy three drop catches aided by some sloppy fielding. Sarfraz flung his arms in delight; embraced Mohammed Amir as Pakistan entered semis.

Sri Lanka fielders walked back only to wash their butter fingers!

1st Semi-final: England v Pakistan at Cardiff - June 14, 2017

England 211 (49.5/50 overs); Pakistan 215/2 (37.1/50 overs)

Pakistan won by 8 wickets (with 77 balls remaining)

This was something even the finest punters couldn’t have thought of. Stakes were high, the dice was loaded in England’s favour but Pakistan simply slit through Eoin Morgan’s side.

Playing at home, England struggled to cope with the pitch and when they finally got their eye in the final rites were done. Pakistan were dealt an early blow as Mohammed Amir sat out nursing an injury. But that didn’t stop the juggernaut rolling.

Ben Stokes was reduced to a wax statue who watched in horror as his team-mates perished.

Pakistan needed 212 runs to win and England had to scrape through to save their honour of once again being knocked out of an ICC tournament.

However, Pakistan had other ideas.

The stage is set, the clock is ticking; fasten your seat belts for a roller coaster Sunday as the biggest blockbuster of the season will be played at The Oval. It’s India versus Pakistan.

Bring it on!

The author tweets@ravivenkat007

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