Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq said yesterday that he regarded the Champions Trophy clash against arch-rivals India as a “final”, even though his team has crashed out of the race to be in the last four.
The last group ‘B’ match at Edgbaston, which was billed as the showpiece game of the eight-nation event, holds only academic interest since India are already through to the last four and Pakistan have no chance of qualifying. But Misbah said his team wanted to sign off on a winning note, hoping to lessen the blow for disappointed fans with a face-saving win over Pakistan’s south Asian neighbours and bitter rivals.
It’s like a final: Misbah
“Whenever we play each other it’s like a final for everybody,” Misbah told reporters after his team’s training session at the ground in Birmingham, central England. “It’s still a very important game even though we may be out of the tournament. India and Pakistan have more followers of cricket than any other team and they all like to see us play each other.”
Dhoni agreed with Misbah that today’s game is important, but insisted that was not only because the opponents were Pakistan. “It does not matter which side you are playing because all international sides are good, so there is no point taking any added pressure,”
“So anything you can avoid as a team, especially the fact we’re talking about pressure, we should look to do that. “The India-Pakistan game is always a big game. Both sides are more mellowed now than was the case in the 1980s and 1990s, and that is good for cricket. But the intensity is the same and that makes it very entertaining for spectators,” he added.
Pakistan were let down by poor batting in the two games, having been bowled out for 170 by the West Indies and then dismissed for 167 by a depleted South African attack missing frontline strike bowlers Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
2: Number of matches played by India and Pakistan against each other in the Champions Trophy. India have lost both games. While they were beaten by three wickets at Birmingham in 2004, they fell short by 54 runs at Centurion, South Africa in 2009. Both matches were played in the month of September.
2: More victims and the in-form Ravindra Jadeja will become the highest wicket-taker in the current tournament. In two matches so far, he has claimed seven wickets at an astonishingly low average of 9.57 and economy rate of 3.52. He remains the only bowler to capture five wickets in an innings in this edition.
183: Number of runs scored by Virat Kohli in Dhaka last year remains the highest ever individual total at all neutral venues in Indo-Pak games. He faced 148 deliveries and hit 22 fours and a six as India successfully chased a stiff target of 330 runs during the Asia Cup.
216: Number of runs scored by Shikhar Dhawan. He remains the highest run-getter in the on-going competition. He has scored two back-to-back hundreds: 114 against South Africa at Cardiff and 102 not out versus West Indies at the Oval. He will become the first Indian and only the fifth player in the world to muster three centuries in consecutive innings if he manages to notch one more three-figure knock.