ICC Champions Trophy 2017: Five things to watch out for as India face Pakistan

The great foes meet once more at The Oval with everything to play for in what is the latest instalment of one of sports great rivalries

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The Independent Online

India face Pakistan in the ICC Champions Trophy final on Sunday.

The great foes meet once more at The Oval with everything to play for in what is the latest instalment of one of sports great rivalries.

Here, we take a look at some of the main talking points from the clash.

Big match?

London will have one of sport's highest-profile fixtures in its midst on Sunday. It is estimated more than a billion worldwide tuned in to watch India beat Pakistan in their group-stage clash at Adelaide in the last World Cup.

A full house is a formality at The Oval, with projected broadcast figures likely to overtake previous records as unheralded Pakistan try to sneak the Champions Trophy from under the noses of the holders, neighbours and great rivals.

Football's equivalent might be a Wembley final of the European Championship between Spain and Germany. A few might tune in for that as well...


Virat Kohli fired the last time these two met (Getty)

Grudge match?

These two teams previously met just once at this stage of an International Cricket Council global event, when India won the World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. History and politics mean the stakes are unfathomably high anyway when the chance comes to bid for supremacy on the cricket pitch, as in their Group B meeting at Edgbaston two weeks ago.

With a tournament trophy to be won, and India defending their title too, it is hard to overstate how much the outcome will mean to millions of people - including a significant British Asian sub-section. A carnival atmosphere is likely to reign before the first ball is bowled and, for one side, after the last one goes down too. In between, there will be plenty of noise - but it will be mighty serious stuff for all concerned.


The game sees two of sport's great rivals meet (Getty)

Pakistan need bowlers to fire

Even without Mohammad Amir, because of his back spasm, Sarfraz Ahmed's bowlers were pitch-perfect on a slow, used surface in Cardiff - where they easily won their semi-final against England on Wednesday.

Their batsmen had little trouble there, chasing an inadequate total. But the suspicion is that if Pakistan are to hold sway in the final, it will be the bowlers who do it for them. A fresh pitch at The Oval will present a very different challenge against India's pedigree batting line-up, however.

India vulnerable at The Oval?

It was here that India lost their only match of the tournament so far, when Sri Lanka shocked them last week by easily chasing 321 for six - with seven wickets and more than an over to spare.

The tournament favourites did fare pretty well here in their warm-up programme, dishing out defeats to New Zealand and Bangladesh - the latter, whom they also beat in their Edgbaston semi-final, by a spectacular 240-run margin. India's overall record at the ground, in Tests and one-day internationals, is six wins in 26 attempts. Pakistan's, across the formats, is a more favourable nine out of 22 - but only two in nine ODIs.


Kohli and Ahmed know what it at stake on Sunday (Getty)

... but Kohli and co. still hold all the aces

India hold the historical advantage in the knockout stage of world tournaments, having beaten Pakistan in each of three meetings so far. Their superiority in Birmingham was startling too, and Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur has since reflected on his team's "terrible" and "shambolic" performance there.

India have twice topped 300 this month and chased a further 455 for the loss of only three wickets in their other two matches. They average almost 100 runs per wicket in the tournament. They will take some stopping.