What’s the story?
Pakistan’s chief selector Inzamam-ul-Haq has backed Sarfraz Ahmed's men to defeat India and also lift the Champions Trophy. Speaking to reporters in his capacity as chief guest at the annual cricket match of the Muslim Gymkhana at the LCCA ground in Lahore, the 47-year-old opened up on the keenly awaited clash against the arch-rivals as well as his country’s chances in the upcoming tournament.
Playing down the hype usually associated with an India-Pakistan contest, Inzamam insisted, “We are not going to England just to beat India but our prime target is to win the championship.” However, he referred to the 2004 Champions Trophy encounter between the two sides in Edgbaston and believed that the Green Shirts ‘can win again’ against the Men in Blue.
In the past...
Pakistan and India met for the first time in the Champions Trophy during the 2004 edition. On a bowler-friendly surface at Edgbaston, Shoaib Akhtar and Naved-ul-Hasan managed to restrict a dynamic batting lineup to just 200. With an unbeaten 81 off 114 deliveries, Yousuf Youhana helped his team complete a nervous chase.
The heart of the matter
Even though Pakistan defeated MS Dhoni’s team at Centurion in the 2009 edition, India repaid the favour by blowing their arch-rivals away by 8-wickets at Edgbaston in the 2013 Champions Trophy and went on to lift the coveted trophy as well.
This time around, the defending champions are led by the aggressive Virat Kohli. Despite some of their big names not in the best of form at the moment, India’s squad contains numerous proven performers. Meanwhile, Inzamam has also given primary importance to experience and selected a crew with plenty of seasoned campaigners.
Both teams have a couple of warm-up matches each before the high-octane clash. While Pakistan will gear up for the tournament by taking on Bangladesh (May 27) and Australia (29), India’s practice games are against New Zealand (28) and Bangladesh (30). The all-important encounter between the two traditional rivals will take place at Edgbaston on June 4th.
Considering Pakistan are the bottom-ranked outfit amongst all the teams participating in the Champions Trophy, Inzamam’s target may seem optimistic. However, they possess quite a few dangerous players who can offer a stiff challenge to the other sides. As far as the game against India is concerned, they need to find a way to handle the pressure and cope with the expectations of their countrymen.