In what will be a nail-biting contest, India take on Pakistan in the final of the Champions Trophy 2017.
Bets were riding high on the likes of Australia, England and South Africa to qualify for the final along with India. However, Pakistan under the leadership of Sarfraz Ahmed turned the campaign around magnificently as their bus reaches the final stop.
The two teams have met previously in the group stages where India routed Pakistan by 124 runs. But that will count for nothing as both teams will approach the final with an aim to clinch the title.
The two teams have played in 11 finals across all limited overs formats and Pakistan hold the edge with seven wins to India’s four. That is compensated to an extent by India’s 13 wins to Pakistan’s two in ICC events.
Take a look at the top five thrilling finals between the two teams over the years.
India vs Pakistan, Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket- Final, ODI, Melbourne Cricket Ground, 10th March 1985
This was the first occasion on which the two teams were contesting a final. Pakistan won the toss and opted to bat. However, they were soon tottering at 33/4 due to brilliant bowling by the Indian new ball bowlers.
Imran Khan and Javed Miandad staged a recovery to take Pakistan to 101/4 when Imran was run out. Pakistan’s tail wagged a bit to propel them to 176/9 off their 50 overs.
That was never going to be enough against a strong Indian line-up. Ravi Shastri and Krishnamachari Srikkanth put on a century partnership for the first wicket to put the issue beyond doubt. India coasted to victory by eight wickets to put one over the arch rivals.
India vs Pakistan, Australasia Cup Final, ODI, Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, 18th April 1986
Until this final at Sharjah, the contests between India and Pakistan used to be pretty even with neither holding an upper hand. However, after this match, Pakistan had a hegemony over India for many years, especially in matches held at Sharjah.
Pakistan won the toss and asked India to bat. India got off to a blazing start with Srikkanth and Sunil Gavaskar putting on 117 runs for the first wicket.
Dilip Vengsarkar came in and continued the good work with Gavaskar, and India were going great guns at 216/1. However, some good bowling at the death by Pakistan meant that India were unable to score freely in the last few overs and they finished at 245/7 off their 50 overs.
In reply, Pakistan were struggling at the halfway mark but were still in the contest due to a typical fighting innings from Javed Miandad. However, he was soon running out of partners. Pakistan needed a four to win off the last ball and Chetan Sharma had the ball in hand.
He tried to bowl a yorker but it ended up as a juicy full toss which Miandad smacked for a huge six over mid-wicket to hand Pakistan a thrilling one- wicket win off the last ball. This match was a turning point as far as the shift in fortunes in ODIs between the two teams.
India vs Pakistan, Wills Trophy-Final, ODI, Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium, 25th October 1991
India won the toss and opted to field. Zahid Fazal and Saleem Malik scored 98* and 87 respectively as Pakistan reached 262/6 off their allotted 50 overs.
In reply, India were off to a slow but steady start and were 44/1 when disaster struck. Shastri, Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar were all adjudged LBW to the bowling of Aaqib Javed who took a hat-trick and India were reeling at 44/4.
There was some doubt as to the veracity of the decisions and this was the first time that the ugly spectre of match-fixing was raised. India were unable to recover from that triple jolt and meekly capitulated to 190 all out to lose by 72 runs. India were so incensed at the perceived injustice that they refused to play at Sharjah for the next seven years.
India vs Pakistan, Silver Jubilee Independence Cup- Third Final, ODI, National Stadium, Dhaka, 18th January 1998
This was the deciding Final and India opted to chase after winning the toss. Pakistan got off to a blazing start due to Saeed Anwar who scored 140 off just 132 balls. Ijaz Ahmed also scored a century and Pakistan reached an imposing 314/5 off 48 overs.
Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly gave a fitting reply, registering 71 off just 8.2 overs before Tendulkar was dismissed for an imperious 41 off just 26 balls.
The Indian skipper, Mohammad Azharuddin promoted Robin Singh to the number three position and he kept up the good work scoring 82 off just 83 balls before he was dismissed in the 39th over with the Indian score on 250.
India suffered a mini-collapse before Hrishikesh Kanitkar hit Saqlain Mushtaq for a boundary to mid-wicket off the penultimate ball of the match and India had triumphed by three wickets. They clinched the best of three Series 2-1
India vs Pakistan, ICC World Twenty20- Final, New Wanderers Stadium Johannesburg, 24th September 2007
This was the first ever WT20 and India and Pakistan were playing each other in the Final. The Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni won the toss and elected to take first strike.
Gautam Gambhir was the star for India scoring a quick 75 off just 54 balls, studded with eight fours and two sixes. However, India lost their way in the middle and looked to be heading for a below par score.
A quick cameo in the end from Rohit Sharma, who scored an unbeaten 30 off just 16 balls, propelled India to 157/8 off their 20 overs.
Imran Nazir got Pakistan off to a blazing start, scoring 33 in just 14 balls. However, Irfan Pathan got India back into the match with figures of 4/0/16/3.
Pakistan needed 54 off the last four overs. Misbah-ul- Haq struck Harbhajan for three sixes and the game was in the balance. He whittled down the target to six needed from four balls. Misbah, then played an injudicious scoop and was caught by Sreesanth off the bowling of Joginder Sharma at short fine leg as India had won the inaugural WT20 by five runs.
This will be the 12th final between these two teams and is promising to be a cracker of a contest.
It will be Pakistan’s bowling versus India’s batting and given the current form and depth in batting, the men in blue might just retain the Champions Trophy title.
The author tweets @ravivenkat007