Perhaps the ICC may have dreamed of an India-Pakistan final to drop the curtains of the 2017 Champions Trophy and it's wish was indeed fulfilled as billions of cricket fans around the world brace for the grand finale, scheduled for Sunday at Kennington Oval.
The supporters will pour into the stadium while millions of viewers will be glued to the TV sets across the globe, making it a must-watch sporting event final.
Just after Pakistan confirmed their place in the final following their facile win over host England in the first semi-final at Sophia Gardens on Wednesday, there were a lot of talks among the fans of the sub-continent arch-rivals as to whether they would get to see their beloved teams in the final.
And Virat Kohli's India duly lived upto the hopes and expectations of their supporters, delivering a comprehensive nine-wicket win against Bangladesh in the second semi-final at Edgbaston on Thursday.
Kohli would be confident of success on Sunday as in recent times, it is India who dominated Pakistan across all events, including ICC tournaments.
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Kohli and teammates share a light moment during training DHAKA TRIBUNE
India have won 13 out of 15 games against their eternal rival in ICC events while Pakistan have managed to win just two.
India have also beaten Pakistan in eight of their 10 World Cup and Champions Trophy meetings.
Pakistan's two wins in the Champions Trophy came in 2004 and 2009 but since '09, they have lost seven in a row against India.
However, Pakistan still lead the overall head-to-head record, registering 72 wins to India's 52.
In the recent past, probably the 2007 World T20 final is the most exciting encounter between the two teams where India were triumphant by five runs.
Coming back to the final clash, Kohli’s team India have played some clinical cricket, apart from the hiccup suffered against Sri Lanka. With the exception of the Lanka tie, India have been dominant throughout the tournament.
The likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and of course, Kohli, are in terrific form, while the experience of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni can prove to be priceless on any given day.
Their pace bowling department comprising Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya have also been venomous while spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja and part-timer Kedar Jadhav can be extremely handy, as was evident against Bangladesh in the semis.
In contrast, one can hardly predict anything about Pakistan as Sarfraz Ahmed’s side has surprised everyone en route to the final.
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Pakistan's Mohammad Amir bowls during training DHAKA TRIBUNE
Starting the tournament as the world's No 8 ranked side and coming on the back of controversial spot-fixing incidents in the Pakistan Super League where Sharjeel Khan and Mohammad Irfan were punished, Pakistan have been a breath of fresh air.
It has been a magnificent journey for Pakistan so far with their fast bowling attack, led by the young Hasan Ali, proving to be too hot to handle for the opposition more often than not. Mohammad Amir, Junaid Khan and Rumman Raees have also been impressive and one can never underestimate the strength of the Pakistani pacers.
Leg-spinner Shadab Khan can be the x-factor in the final but the batting department may look fragile on occasions, compared to India anyway.
Fakhar Zaman is yet to blossom according to his potential while Babar Azam has also missed out on a significant score so far. Experienced campaigners Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez need to take the responsibility in order to relieve some pressure off Sarfraz.
All in all, it promises to be the perfect final in an ICC event and whoever hold their nerve amid the pressure-cooker situation will eventually come out on top.
- Sachin Tendulkar (2526) and Inzamam-ul Haq (2403)
- Virat Kohli (183) and Saeed Anwar (194)
- Anil Kumble (54) and Wasim Akram (60)
- Sourav Ganguly (5/16) and Aaqib Javed (7/37)