KARACHI: The world will come to a standstill on Sunday when Pakistan take on India in the final of the ICC Champions Trophy, and the excitement among the cricketing community is understandably palpable.
The two arch-rivals on June 18 at The Oval with a 2-2 Champions Trophy record will be going into the game. For Pakistan, this is their first tournament final, while India has won two titles including the one they won last time around.
The anticipation, understandably, is touching the roof at this point.
“This will be the most exciting match of the tournament; not only of this tournament but the most exciting one in its history,” said Test star Muhammad Abbas, who was in England to train with the ODI squad before the Champions Trophy.
“On Sunday, all eyes will be on the final,” he added. “The fans have lots to expectations from their respective teams so it will be important that the players keep their focus and play like they did against other teams.”
Karachi Kings wicketkeeper Saif Bangash revealed that all players are eagerly looking forward to Sunday. “The way Pakistan have come back after losing to India in the first match is incredible,” he said. “They beat the world’s best side in South Africa, then Sri Lanka and then the tournament’s only unbeaten team and favourites England in semi-final. If they play like they did against those teams, India should not be a problem.”
Asif Zakir, the standout performer in last year’s Quaid-e-Azam Trophy feels both teams go into the final on an equal footing; making it an even more enticing prospect.
“It is really hard to judge who will win since India are a strong team and Pakistan have been performing well in the last three matches,” he said. “No matter who wins it, it will be pure entertainment for the fans. A win for Pakistan will undoubtedly be a boost for cricket in the country.”
Zakir added that it is good to see young players performing for the team, but revealed that it comes as no surprise to him seeing them flourish at this level. “Fakhar Zaman, Fahim Ashraf, Rumman Raees, Shadab Khan and Babar Azam are players who have been performing in the domestic cricket,” he said.
All cricket lovers are counting down the seconds just as impatiently as the cricketers are. Cricket tournament organiser Hassan Latif said that there will be screenings for the match all around the country, especially in Karachi where there is a lot of cricket happening in the month of Ramazan.
“Players from all around the country are here in Karachi to play Ramazan cricket but right now everyone is waiting for the final of the ICC Champions Trophy,” he said. “This has caused a lot of excitement among the players and fans. The match will be screened all over the city. Pakistan’s run to the final has once again brought life to cricket fans and to the streets of Karachi.”
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