Pakistan v India: Everything you need to know about the ICC Champions Trophy final

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Pakistan will aim to defy the odds and beat India when the two fierce rivals meet at The Oval in what promises to be a pulsating ICC Champions Trophy final, which is expected to be watched by over a billion people on Sunday.

The two cricket-worshipping countries will meet in what looked such an unlikely showdown in London this weekend and India go in as strong favourites.

While Virat Kohli's side sit second in the one-day international rankings, Pakistan were not expected to mount a challenge as they are only seventh in the world in the 50-over format.

Pakistan were hammered by India in their first match of the tournament, but have been transformed since then and coasted past well-fancied hosts England to take their spot in in the final for the first time.

Defending champions India have been magnificent with the bat, Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and captain Kohli racking up the runs consistently and with plenty of style.

Hasan Ali has starred with the ball for surprise package Pakistan, who, like India, will be roared on by a boisterous crowd on what is expected to be a hot day.

Pakistan have also been boosted by the return of paceman Mohammad Amir, who has recovered from back spasms.

Batting conditions should be excellent and we could be in for a classic.

KEY PLAYERS:

Opening batsmen Dhawan and Rohit set the tone for India when they hammered Pakistan in their first game of the tournament. Dhawan is the leading run-scorer in the tournament with 317 from four innings at an average of 79.25. If the dangerous left-hander gets into his stride, Pakistan could be in some trouble.

The return of Amir is a big tonic for Pakistan, who will be looking for the left-arm quick to make inroads along with Junaid Khan and Hasan Ali. India have only lost 12 wickets in four matches, so the men further down the order have not had much time in the middle.

 

PROBABLY LINE-UPS:

Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.

India: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli (captain), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah.

 

QUOTES: 

Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur: "They've [his team] been outstanding, the way they've prepared, the way they dragged themselves off the canvas after the beating at Edgbaston [against India], was amazing. They've been really special in the way that they've bought into the concept that we wanted them to buy into and the brand of cricket, and they've done exceptionally well at that."

India skipper Kohli: "I don't see any relevance of the first game here because you can never tell how a particular team starts a tournament. Some teams start very confidently and then they fade off. Some teams might not have the best starts, and they come back amazingly, which Pakistan has done. So everyone is aware of the kind of talent they have in their team, and on their day they can beat any side in the world."

 

OPTA STATS:

- India have won four of their last five ODI matches against Pakistan, including a 124-run victory during the group stage.

- This will be the fifth time these sides will have faced off in the Champions Trophy; the record is currently balanced with two victories apiece.

- Pakistan will be playing in the Champions Trophy final for the very first time.

- India come into this game having won nine of their last 10 Champions Trophy matches; the only defeat came during the 2017 group stage at The Oval against Sri Lanka.

- If Dhawan makes a half-century, he will have done so more than any other batsman in the Champions Trophy (he currently has six).