India and Pakistan face off in dream cricket final

"I have been very impressed", said Kohli, who hit an unbeaten 96 from 78 balls in India's nine-wicket semi-final win over Bangladesh in front of a record one-day crowd of 24,340 in Birmingham.

Speaking from history's point of view, India-versus-Pakistan finals have two different tales to tell. "We've got nothing to lose, their odds are higher than us, they've got more chance and everyone is talking about India, India", he said on Friday. "Because I believe in my boys and if the boys can believe that, we can go and win this one". "India is our nation and therefore we will pray for its win", he added.

Facing each other for the first time in an ODI match since the 2015 ICC World Cup, Pakistan lost to India by a margin of 124 runs leading to severe words of criticism from former Pakistan players like Imran Khan, Shoaib Akhtar and Shahid Afridi.

But few would dispute that India-Pakistan is now the world game's premier contest - certainly not the ICC who, by their own admission, now fix the draw at their events to ensure the Asian giants meet in the group phase. "What we are going to try to do is repeat the similar sort of cricket that we have played so far, knowing the strengths and weaknesses they have". Some teams might not have the best starts, and they come back amazingly, which Pakistan have done.

"I know there are expectations, I know there are people that expect the team and me to do well every time we play". Virat Kohli is the clear favourite to be Man of the Match, at 6/1, but given how Pakistan's quicks have bowled in their last three fixtures, they must be a factor. As the pressure rose, the skipper, Sarfraz Ahmed, played an inspirational innings to put his team through to the semi-final stage.

When asked if he was surprised at Pakistan's resurgence since their opening defeat, the unorthodox seamer replied: "Not at all, anything can happen on any day".

"No one gave us a hope when we got here".

"Amir bowled today (at the nets)".

Bangladesh also need greater depth, particularly in the bowling attack, beyond their team's "Big Five" of Shakib Al Hasan, Tamim, Mushfiqur, Mahmudullah and captain Mashrafe Mortaza.

Pakistan will contest India for the Champions Trophy on June 18 at The Oval.

The back-up off-spinner took two for 22 in six overs, removing Bangladesh top-scorers Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61). We'll definitely go with Amir, but we don't mind, if Amir is not playing, then we have Rumman Raees.

But following what coach Mickey Arthur labelled a "shambolic" display, Pakistan recovered to beat South Africa, the top-ranked team in this eight-nation one-day global tournament. "They've beaten sides that looked really strong against them, but the belief just showed on the field [with] the way they played together as a team", he told reporters after Thursday's game.

  • Julie Sanders