Amir fit for Champions Trophy final


India and Pakistan will be up against each other in the final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017.

Pakistan, however, shouldn't lose heart. "What we've produced after that doesn't come as any surprise because that's how we trained, and that's what we worked at". As Pakistan trudged off the field on that evening at Edgbaston, shoulders drooped, hands were in pockets, heads were bowed and there were shocked looks on their faces.

"I believe in my boys. if we win it would be a great gift to the whole nation".

There was a sense of "I told you so" after the humiliating defeat to India.

But he was hardly missed on Wednesday, with fellow left-arm paceman Rumman Raees, making his one-day global debut, taking two for 44 as England were skittled out for just 211. Most experts had felt that this was a weak squad and one that would be among the also-rans in the tournament, entering it as the lowest-ranked team.

And the question millions of cricket fans around the world, possibly even a billion, are all asking is 'which Pakistan will turn up?'.

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However, in true Pakistani cricketing style, Sarfraz Ahmed's band of experienced and streetwise cricketers combined with the exuberance of youth have dumbfounded the critics. He's very positive. He's an aggressive captain and he wants to take wickets. More so as the experienced duo of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez have not delivered as much as they should have.

Both sides romped to easy victories in the semi-finals, Pakistan thrashing previously unbeaten England by eight wickets, and India overpowering Bangladesh.

Mickey Arthur, the Pakistan coach, sounded more realistic in how he expected his team to react to the moment they would have dreamt about all their lives. They are intimidating opposition bowlers with their class and breathtaking stroke-play.

Then there is the little matter of wise leadership and some out of the box thinking which had hitherto been in scant supply.

Fakhar Zaman, 27 years old and born in Mardan - birthplace of the recently retired Younis Khan - has flayed 138 runs from 117 balls since he replaced the pedestrian Ahmed Shehzad at the top of the order.

Throughout the tournament, Pakistan has proven that their bowling is their stronger suit with the skill and guile of players like Hassan Ali and Imad Wasim, who've both impressed me hugely.

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Tonga relished the physicality, and delighted in sending a stream of ball-carriers charging upfield as far as they could. Cuthbert scored the opening try in the 24-6 win over Tonga at Eden Park, but suffered a shoulder ligament injury.

He added that India's performance was analysed after the earlier game and the team will concentrate on what it can do well. All eyes will be on the experienced campaigners, Dhoni and Yuvraj, along with the Indian batsmen who are good form to lift the coveted trophy on Sunday.

I would predict that Pakistan will look to bowl first if they win the toss, and work to restrict India to a total within their reach.

The ICC Champions Trophy final can be streamed live on Hotstar.

Defending the Champions Trophy will also be important as the on-field supremacy could also help India regain some lost ground off the field when the ICC Annual Conference starts a day after the final.

Pakistan were fortunate to get a point from their South Africa game where they managed to restrict the Proteas to 219/8 in 50 overs but were tottering at 119/3 when the skies opened up and Pakistan won by 19 runs via Duckworth Lewis method. They are already top of the pile in Test cricket.

So hold on to your hats and enjoy the ride on Sunday, as with the Pakistan cricket team anything and everything is possible. No one gave us a hope when we got here.

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However, India will remain under pressure as the Pakistan team has a fresh batch of players who have exuberating confidence. But Pakistan could also find a place for Amir by leaving out a spinner in either Shadab Khan or Imad Wasim.

Although South Africa were knocked out of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 by India, their skipper AB de Villers has labeled his Indian counterpart Virat Kohli as the "most outstanding cricketer in the world".