Ahead of much-anticipated, high octane Champions Trophy final between India and Pakistan at the Oval, Indian all-rounder Irfan Pathan has declared the clash between the two Asian arch-rival bigger than the Ashes series. Admitting that the match between India and Pakistan is always ‘special’, the 32-year-old backed his side to continue to play in the same manner as they have performed so far and emerge victorious. “It is a big match. A final match is happening after 10 years. The last time India and Pakistan met in the finals was in T20 World Cup in 2007. I was a part of that match. We went on to win that match. The match between the two sides is always special. Many people get involved in this. It is even considered bigger than the Ashes series between Australia and England. I hope the Indian team win. My wishes are with Virat Kohli and his team. I am very hopeful of their win especially after the way India have played in the tournament so far. They have won all the matches except the one against Sri Lanka,” Pathan said in an exclusive conversation with ANI.
Like many people, Pathan also believes the Virat Kohli-led India’s strength lies in its batting while Pakistan would bank on its superb bowling attack in the summit clash. “I think the way Virat Kohli is batting and his timing is great. I think India have an upper hand going into the match. If we talk about bowling and batting, the competition has always been between Pakistan’s bowling and India’s batting,” he added. Team India, the defending champions, registered their place in the Champions Trophy final after registering a resounding nine-wicket win over Bangladesh in the second semi-final to set up another high-voltage clash against the Sarfraz Ahmed-led side. Going into the match, India would be high on confidence having comprehensively defeated their Asian neighbour by 124 runs in the group stage. India have won four of their last five ODI matches against Pakistan, including a 124-run victory earlier in this tournament during the group stage.
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However, it would not be an easy one for the Men in Blue to defend their title as they would face a charged-up and equally confident Pakistan, who surprised everyone by beating favourites England in the first semi-final at Cardiff on Wednesday. If India manage to clinch the victory at the Oval today, they will become the first team to win the Trophy three times and join Australia as the second team to defend the title.