According to Ian Chappell, Pakistan’s bowling attack is more balanced than India, but expects a highly competitive encounter from both the sides
This is a final not many would have imagined, yet it’s one nobody can possibly grudge. A trans-Tasmanian final was a possibility before the semi-finals, but it is difficult to dispute that now because the tournament has now got the best possible climax: the two best teams in the tournament have have made it to the end, and the sub-continental rivalry has the right combination of history, piquancy, enigma and an edge to add up to a thriller. Let’s just hope it doesn’t go the way of the World Cup finals.
History will point that India have the advantage. They have a 6-1 record against Pakistan in world championships including one bowl-out earlier in this tournament and whispers from the Pakistan camp before the second semi-final suggested that they would had rather played Australia in the final, having beaten them already. But then history counts for little in the middle, and Pakistan did break their jinx of having never beaten India in a world championship at the Champions Trophy in England in the year 2004. Now in 2007, there is little to choose between the teams, and it might just boil down to who can hold their nerve best.
On balance, both the teams are evenly matched, but India have the edge in their batting. All their batsmen have fired in the tournament whereas Pakistan’s have been wobbling at the top, and then India have the better wicketkeeper-batsman in their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Yet this is evened out by Pakistan’s slight superiority in the bowling department. though India’s pace bowlers have responded magnificently to the challenge of this new format and Harbhajan Singh has been impossible to cart away, but despite Joginder Sharma’s great last over against Australia, they have a weak fifth bowler and no viable back-up.
Compare this to Pakistan, who have an all-round attack with the variety of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez, both genuine allrounders in one-day cricket, to back up the pace bowlers and Shahid Afridi with his quickish leg spin. And in Umar Gul, they have the best bowler in the tournament so far, a man to stop runs and take wickets just when opposing teams are looking at hitting the pedal.
Most importantly, both these teams have been led by exactly the kind of men each has required. Pakistan, always brilliant but always brittle, have benefited from Malik’s composure, which has also been a feature of his batting in this tournament.
For India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been impressive. He has a terrific cricket brain and has brought the ideal combination of aggressiveness and tactical methods to his captaincy. Even though the big guys have stayed at home, he had plenty of players far senior to him in the team, some of whom had even been spoken of as future captains. Despite all this, he has looked in command and has displayed a clear-headedness when it comes to taking important decisions.
It is not a coincidence then that India and Pakistan have been involved in the most exciting matches in this tournament & even in cricketing history. Anything less than an Electrifying Final today would be a disappointment.
May The Best Team Win…..