Published: Sat, June 17, 2017
Sport | By Wendy Sparks

Champions Trophy Final: Punters peg India as favorite

Title-holders India will be firm favourites against a Pakistan side who were the lowest ranked of all the teams taking part in a tournament featuring the world's top-eight one-day worldwide sides.

However, it would not be an easy one for Kohli & Co to defend their title as they would face a charged-up and equally confident Pakistan, who surprised everyone by beating favourites England in the first semi-final at Cardiff on Wednesday. "They have worked really hard to get this far and I feel so bad when people work so hard and the ex-captains or ex-players talk bad about the team", Harbhajan said.

"I don't see any relevance of the first game here because you can never tell how a particular team starts a tournament", he told reporters.

"During its last pool match against Sri Lanka, another must-win game, Pakistan looked dead and buried in its run-chase, but Sri Lanka could not land the knock-out blow with catches going down".

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India have been dominant against Pakistan in ICC events, with the overall record being 13-2 in their favour.

"History can change, and I hope we can [change it]", he added.

This weekend's huge occasion will ask new questions of both teams.

After Friday's practice, Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood said of Amir: "He bowled today without any problem whatsoever".

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Going into the match, India would be high on confidence having comprehensively defeated their Asian neighbour by 124 runs in the group stage. It is like the is bigger than the Ashes - and expectation is high from both nations, insane about cricket. "We have practiced the same way we did before previous matches and our approach hasn't changed at all", Kohli said.

What Pakistan will bring is in doubt, and there's the intrigue about the showdown on Sunday at The Oval. "It doesn't matter whether we win by nine wickets or one wicket".

"If we focus on our skills and our abilities and believe in ourselves, we'll give ourselves a chance to do some good things for the team". We were the number eight ranked side, and no one gave us any credit.

India's remarkable consistency will be up against Pakistan's legendary volatility when the rivals clash in what is expected to be an exciting finale to the Champions Trophy in London. "I believe in my boys. if we win it would be a great gift to the whole nation", he added. "So its basically how to react to every ball that's bowled to you", he said. "We dissected India a lot before the game at Edgbaston, and we've backtracked a little bit on that now and sort of solidified what we did really well, in terms of our batting, in terms of our fielding, and building on that".

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Yet such was the form of replacement left-arm quick Rumman Raees, who marked his ODI debut with two wickets, it is by no means certain even a fully fit Amir will come straight back into a side that has been well-led by Sarfraz Ahmed, in fine form as both wicket-keeper and batsman.

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