Former Australia left-hander Michael Hussey feels that although India are hot favourites to retain the ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan cannot be discounted as they have a feeling of “destiny” with them.
“India is in a great place and must be favoured to retain the ICC Champions Trophy but no-one should discount Pakistan. It is a mercurial team and this tournament has thrown up so many upsets so far,” Hussey wrote in a column for the official website of the International Cricket Council (ICC).
“Pakistan has surprised everyone in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 after being ranked eighth coming into the tournament and was well and truly beaten in its first match against India.
“Since that match, every game has virtually been a knock-out game for it. It has played as though it has nothing to lose, with a freedom to express its skills, which is commendable considering the situation it found itself in,” Hussey, who has played 79 Tests and 185 ODIs for Australia amassing 6235 and 5442 runs respectively, added.
“There is a feeling of destiny with Pakistan.”
Pakistan lost to India in their first game only to ride their luck and win against South Africa. From then on, the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side beat Sri Lanka in a do-or-die clash following it up with a semi-final triumph over fancied England to storm into the final.
“During its last pool match against Sri Lanka, another must-win game, Pakistan looked dead and buried in its run-chase, but Sri Lanka could not land the knock-out blow with catches going down. As the pressure rose, the skipper, Sarfraz Ahmed, played an inspirational innings to put his team through to the semi-final stage.
“It carried that momentum to the England match, where everything clicked and now it has another opportunity to face arch-rival India in the final,” Hussey explained.
“I am sure Pakistan will get additional inspiration and motivation from its past successes in this event and will aim to extend its run come Sunday.” the 42-year-old said.
On India, who have been in red hot form winning all games except against Sri Lanka, which Hussey said was a “shock”, the former one-day great added: “India has oozed class throughout the tournament with each player looking in great touch and clear with the role he plays in the team.”
The cricketing world was shocked when Sri Lanka chased down India’s big total to win at The Oval, but other than that hiccup, India has looked, with England, the strongest team in the competition.
“The top order of Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli have been remarkable, looking in total control out in the middle. They are intimidating opposition bowlers with their class and breathtaking stroke-play.”
Hussey said the only concern for India could be their middle-order not spending enough time at the crease.
“one concern for India is that there hasn’t been much work for the likes of Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav, Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja to do with the bat and Pakistan could exploit this if it gets early wickets in the final. It’s a big IF!!!”