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India vs Pak: Will India repeat history to defend Champions Trophy title?

India has defeated Pakistan in past 5 matches across formats; Kohli has been man of the match in 3

Anish Kumar  |  New Delhi 

India vs Pakistan final
India's captain Virat Kohli, left, and Pakistan's captain Sarfraz Ahmed pose for a picture with the trophy at the Oval cricket ground in London

If the history of final matches in multi-nation 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.

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.

History of India and Pakistan in the final of a multi-nation tournament
It was in 1985 that the two teams first clashed in the final tie of a multi-nation tournament other than Pakistan had beaten the mighty West Indies in the semi-final of the World Championship tournament in Australia to meet India for the summit clash.
Batting first, Pakistan were able to put only 179 runs on the board, thanks to some tight bowling by Laxman Sivaramakrishnan. In their chase of a small total, Kris Srikkanth and Ravi Shastri put together 103 runs in the first-wicket stand to pave the way for India’s comfortable win.
That was the beginning of a list of final matches where in their journey to present-day In recent times, amid political stiffness, the two nations have not played bilateral tournaments; their contest on the field of has been limited to ICC events and Asia Cup championships.

and Sarfraz Khan as captains
For both Kohli and Ahmed, this year’s Champions Trophy is their first instance of leading their respective senior national sides in the finals of an ICC tournament. However, neither is new to the big league. As youngsters, both Kohli and Ahmed led their respective under-19 national teams to World Cup victories – while Ahmed was the captain of the Pakistan U-19 side that took home the 2006 junior World Cup Trophy, Kohli’s Indian under-19 clinched the Trophy in the 2008 edition of the junior World Cup.

India vs Pakistan in recent years
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 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.
Here are snapshots of the last 5 encounters between India and Pakistan:
#1. ICC Champions Trophy

Date: June 4, 2017
Venue: Birmingham, England
Format: ODI
Result: India won by 124 runs
Man of the match: Yuvraj Singh
India began their Champions Trophy campaign this year with a thumping 124-run win against Pakistan (Duckworth & Lewis method). Batting first, India amassed a formidable 319 runs in their quota of 48 overs for the loss of only three wicks. After a steady start provided by openers Shikhar Dhawan (68) and Rohit Sharma (91), Kohli played a knock of 81 and while Yuvraj Singh rolled back years to display the blitzkrieg of yore to smash 53 off 32 balls. In their chase, Pakistan lost quick wickets and were bundled for a mere 164 runs (Wahab Riyaz, who got injured earlier did not come out to bat).
#2. ICC World T20, 2016

Date: March 19, 2016
Venue: Kolkata
Format: T20
Result: India won by 6 wickets
Man of the match: Virat Kohli
In this must-win game, India won the toss and elected to bowl first. Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad gave Pakistan a steady start but the middle collapsed after the openers departed on the turning wicket of Eden Gardens. Pakistan's lower order, led by Shoaib Malik and Umar Akmal contributed 51 runs in the last five overs to put a meager 118 on board in 20 overs. Chasing a small total of 119 in 18 overs on the turner, India lost Rohit Sharma early, and then Mohammad Sami rattled all by striking twice in an over and leaving India tottering at 23 for 3. However, Kohli and Yuvraj again came to the rescue. While Yuvraj provided stability to the batting, scoring 24 runs off 23 deliveries, Kohli went after the bowlers and made 55 off 37 – putting together 61 runs in partnership. After Yuvraj departed, whatever was left to be done was shouldered by Dhoni, who hit a six in his characteristic style and took a single on the fifth ball of the 16th over to win the match for India with 13 balls and 6 wickets to spare.

#3. Asia Cup, 2016

Date: February 27, 2016
Venue: Dhaka
Format: T20
Result: India won by 5 wickets
Man of the match: Virat Kohli
India won the toss and elected to field. Batting first, Pakistan managed only 83, their lowerst in T20 internationals, and were packed off in the 18th over. Only two batsmen were able to enter the double-digit mark – Khurram Manzoor (10 off 18 balls) and (25 off 24). For India, Hardik Pandya bagged three wickets and Ravindra Jadeja two. Buoyed by swinging deliveries of Mohammad Amir, Pakistan tried to make a comeback, removing Indian openers Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane in the first over. But Kohli's 49 runs and Yuvraj Singh’s unbeaten 14 saw India going past the target with 27 balls and 5 wickets to spare.

#4. ICC World Cup, 2015

Date: February 15, 2015
Venue: Adelaide Oval, Australia
Format: ODI
Result: India won by 76 runs
Man of the match: Virat Kohli
In the first game of the 2015 World Cup, the then skipper won the toss and elected to bat first. After early loss of Rohit Sharma’s wicket, Dhawan added 129 runs for the second wicket with Kohli. Raina and Kohli then put another 110 on the board for the third wicket, even as Kohli completed his 22nd ODI century, the first by an Indian against Pakistan in a World Cup game. Sohail Khan scalped five wickets for Pakistan as India scored 300. While chasing, Pakistan lost Younis Khan, who was making a rare appearance as an opener. Misbah-ul-Haq again turned out to be the fulcrum of the Pakistan batting line-up but did not get enough support from others, and Pakistan could score only 224 to lose the match by 76 runs

#5. ICC World T20, 2014

Date: March 21, 2014
Venue: Dhaka
Format: T20
Result: India won by 7 wickets
Man of the match: Amit Mishra
Put in to bat first, Pakistan scored 130 on a pitch which had a lot of turn for spinners. But soon, pressure got the better of Kamran Akmal and he was run out for 8, leaving Pakistan struggling at 9 for 1. Mohammad Hafeez and Ahmed Shehzad held fort for about 6 overs, scoring 35 runs in partnership for the second wicket, until Jadeja sent Hafeez back in the eighth over. Indian bowlers never gave away easy runs, building pressure on Pakistan, except the final over, which yielded 14 runs. Particularly impressive was Amit Mishra, who bowled neat four overs and scalped two wickets while giving away only 22 runs. The result: Pakistan could score only 130 for 7 in 20 years. In India’s chase, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started off cautiously, scoring 54 runs before Dhawan fell for 30 off 28 balls in the eighth over. Though Sharma and Yuvraj fell in quick succession after, Kohli and Suresh Raina played fluently to get another 66 runs to guide India to the finish line.