Rivalries have always been the very basis on which a sport is able to build its success, be it Ali vs Frazier (Boxing), Brazil vs Argentina (Football), Federer vs Nadal (Tennis) or India vs Pakistan, in their respective sports. When the two great rivals take the field, it a spectacle to behold.
Let us start with the aspects of the game that are cannot be controlled by either team - the weather and the coin toss. The weather is expected to be sunny on the day, but the way the tournament has progressed, one would not be surprised to see some interruptions in play. Despite South Africa crumbling for 191 in the first innings of the last match at Oval, the pitch is still one of the finest in the tournament. The Oval has hosted five games this season and apart from Sri Lanka failing to chase down the Proteas' 300 run target, it has been easy sailings for the team batting second. It would be a huge shock if the captain winning the toss elects to bat first. However, if India
Pakistan's struggles against the short ball will haunt them again
Apart from Fakhar Zaman, not many players have shown too much consistency in the top order and it has been on the basis of his attacking opening style that Pakistan
To say that the back of length deliveries have troubled the 'Men in Green' would be a gross understatement. 10 off the 21 wickets that Pakistan have lost in the tournament so far have been as a direct result of balls that have pitched in the back of the length area. This is where Virat Kohli has to make the tough choice of playing with just one spinner. It could be a flip of a coin between Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami - the former on the kind of form he showed before the tournament, while the latter on the sheer amount of talent he possesses. The Indian spin contingent, R
Indian batting prowess will outshine Pakistan
Coming to the Indian batting which has been an absolute rock under so far, with Kedar Jadhav, who was taken into the side as an extra batsman, bowling more deliveries than he actually faced. The trio of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli have made India tick throughout the tournament with Dhawan, in particular, in inspired form. One of the biggest reasons for their domination has been the fact the openers have averaged an opening partnership of 71 in the series so far, while the first two wickets have averaged an incredible 249. When asked to step up, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni have played their part when India needed some help during the Pakistan and Sri Lanka games respectively.
It has been clear as day where Pakistan's main strength lies. After conceding 319 runs to India in their first game of the Champions Trophy, Pakistan
Fielding will see India through
One aspect that has put India on a completely different and higher category in this tournament has been their fielding. One could say India have come this far in the tournament as a result of their fielding performances - be it the two run outs against Sri Lanka that dragged India into the game, or the three run-outs that signaled yet another 'choking' performance by the South Africans. Apart from the obvious impact o the wickets column, the Men in Blue also end up saving double-digit runs which
Pakistan, on the flipside,
Something that often gets overlooked in sports are the intangibles that play their own part in any success story. One of the most important things is the capability of teams to handle pressure in crunch moments that results in the game finally leaning in one direction. Experience is not just acquiring over 200 caps for your country, but rather knowing the most effective way of navigating through treacherous waters of a high-profile final. India
This has been a herculean effort by Pakistan to mount such a formidable challenge after the loss to India in the first game, but crossing the final hurdle might just be a step too far for them this time.