India wary of maverick Pakistan in high-octane final


India will face Pakistan in Sunday's Champions Trophy final before flying out to the Caribbean where they face West Indies in the opening ODI at Queen's Park Oval on June 23.

Cricket's biggest rivalry has become a bit of a dud.

As it has been throughout the tournament, the odds continue to be stacked against Ahmed's boys in the final as well. Summing it up, captain Sarfraz Ahmed could be risky for India.

In contrast, Pakistan will have to adapt quickly as they will be playing their first match of the tournament at the Oval.

But the trio's strong form has meant the middle order of Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Yadhav, MS Dhoni and Hardyik Pandya have barely been required throughout the tournament; that quartet have added a combined total of just 200 runs from seven innings compared to the 874 runs scored by the top three.

The bowling department for India under the likes of pacers Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, spinners Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin have looked solid bowling economically while providing clinical breakthroughs. But the victory also owed much to Kohli's captaincy. "But I can tell you one thing - we have come to win".

Their lineup is settled, with options, and all about execution.

"I really hope that we see resumption of bilateral cricket between the two countries and would request the Indian cricket board and the Indian government to soften their stance", Afridi wrote in a column for the ICC ahead of the Champions Trophy summit clash between India and Pakistan here tomorrow.

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"As a team, we want to win". New captain, new coach and a few changes in the squad; ideal recipe to retain the Champions Trophy.

"We were written off totally, and probably rightly so, after the Indian clash because we were shambolic". I think we can see our style and method catching up with the rest of the world because we're being exposed to it now.

"We played some really good cricket but we're not going to take anything for granted for sure".

What impressed Arthur after the India result were the players' honest appraisals, the sign of a maturity that wasn't in the side a year ago. "Pawar was spoken to by many world leaders and we reluctantly took part", then BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah, who is in London, said.

Their confidence will be boosted by the return to fitness of main strike bowler Mohammad Amir, who missed the England match because of back spasms.

“Amir bowled today (at the nets). "Our batting is not that good our bowling is better", he added. As soon as the picture was posted on the social media platform, it went viral with fans from both India and Pakistan going gaga over the post.

"Tactically we'd always spoken about our guys wanting to express themselves with the ball and wanting to attack", Arthur said. "If you're too distracted listening to too many suggestions or praise or criticism, then you can't focus on what you need to think as a sportsman first to be able to lead the team and then help the others in the team".