The Champions Trophy is ON again after a gap of four years and tournament’s big match is finally here again. The prestigious ICC tournament has eight of the top ODI teams in the world vying for the title in a round-robin group format, with the top two teams in each group qualifying for the semifinals and we know where to go from there.
While this year’s match promises to be a nail-biting contest of the ball and the bat, with both teams coming off good performances in recent matches , it is instructive to remember the match four years ago when the two teams met amid much fanfare, albeit in a dead rubber as India had won both their previous matches against South Africa and West Indies, and sealed their place in the semi-finals, while Pakistan were languishing at the bottom of the table and would advance no further. The match was held in Edgbaston, same as last year, a place famous for its South Asian diaspora and heritage. With the significant majority of them being Pakistani, this is the closest the Pakistani team will come to a home match since 2009, when international cricket left their borders.
The Indians were ready for the big match in 2013 and had Pakistan trailing right from the start as they never let the to restricting their opposition to 165 as Pakistan never really gathered any momentum in the match. Wickets fell at regular intervals both the pacers and the spinners did well. The two rain breaks forced the match authorities to restrict the game to 40 overs per side, which did not stop the struggling Pakistani batting to collapse for a paltry 165 all out. The rain was again the reason when the target was set to 167 in 40 overs for the chasing Indians, and finally a revised target of 102 to win in 22 overs. Shikhar Dhawan looked in lusty form during the second innings, hitting five fours on his way to 48. Partnering with now-skipper Kohli, Dhawan took India home comfortably in 19.1 overs, with 8 wickets to spare.
The demolishing of old foes Pakistan was just another victory for the Indian side on their way to becoming champions of 2013, and they will hope for similar performance by their bowling and batting as they face down their neighbours in their first match of CT2017.
India Squad: 1 Shikhar Dhawan, 2 Rohit Sharma, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 6 Suresh Raina, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Ishant Sharma.
Pakistan Squad: 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Nasir Jamshed, 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt), 5 Umar Amin, 6 Shoaib Malik, 7 Kamran Akmal (wk), 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Saeed Ajmal, 10 Junaid Khan, 11 Mohammad Irfan