While India will be playing to defend their Champions Trophy title at Kennigston Oval on Sunday, Pakistan have never made it to the finals of any Champions Trophy yet. Apart from the 2013 edition of the tournament, which they won after beating hosts England by 5 runs in the final, India were also the co-champions along with Sri Lanka in 2002.
More than the overall history of the game, what is truly relevant in the context of Sunday’s game is the finalists’ form and level of cricket in recent years. While India-Pakistan matches in the past few years have been few and far in between, India’s success rate in these matches has been remarkable, while the other side has been found tottering on most occasions.
On each of the last five outings together, including the much-hyped 2015 World Cup clash in Adelaide, Pakistan has choked under pressure. Interestingly, captain Kohli has not only been a member of the playing 11 for India in each of these five matches, he has also been the man of the match on three of these occasions.
If the history of final matches in multi-nation cricket tournaments is anything to go by, the odds will clearly be stacked against Pakistan when they clash with arch-rivals India in the ultimate showdown of the Champions Trophy 2017 on Sunday.
The nervousness would be palpable in the Pakistani camp, even as captain Sarfraz Ahmed’s boys have gradually upped their game since losing to the men in blue at the league stage. Equally noticeable, meanwhile, is the confidence in India skipper Virat Kohli’s statement that his team needs to change little to beat Pakistan yet again.