Former Australia left-hander Michael Hussey feels that although India are hot favourites to retain the ICC Champions Trophy, Pakistan can not be discounted as they have a feeling of "destiny" with them. It is estimated more than a billion worldwide tuned in to watch India beat Pakistan in their group-stage clash at Adelaide in the last World Cup.
As expectations and emotions peak on both sides of the border ahead of the Champions Trophy final between Pakistan and India, a picture reportedly showing former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni carrying the son of Pakistani skipper Safaraz Ahmed in his arms has given fans a glimpse of a softer side of the Gentleman's Game.
Both India's cricket and hockey teams have played down the hype around such blockbuster engagements. India have a much more experienced and balanced side than their counterparts with a galaxy of match winners. "It was humiliating how badly we lost that match and we can turn things around now", said the Pakistan bowling great.
"I have played with synthetic hockey balls (during) indoor net session, but never tried hockey".
"That was something we hadn't prepared for", he said. I wish our team the best. "I think I've been able to strike a good balance until now and I'm sure I'll be fine for the final".
Interestingly, lot of hockey players have gone on to become famous cricketers.
Virat Kohli insisted that the Men in Blue were neither too intimidated, nor were too arrogant about their performance in the tournament. He is now the batting coach of Middlesex. India then went onto decimate Bangladesh in the semi-finals to book a place in title clash for the fourth time. They defeated strong sides like South Africa, Sri Lanka and England in the semi-final.
Tee-off times, leaderboard - Willett 'backs out'
But the former Irish Open victor posted one under for the back nine to get into the clubhouse just inside the cut mark. But the fact his usually reliable putter let him down so severely will add a little extra sting.
On the eve of Sunday's high-profile rematch he also said the Birmingham encounter was an "aberration", entirely uncharacteristic these days of a team who often glory in their reputation for unpredictability.
After Pakistan was thrashed by India by 124 runs two weeks ago, coach Mickey Arthur blamed "the magnitude of the occasion" for the fear his side showed.
Asked why Pakistan's effort will be different this time, Arthur said on Saturday their attitude is different. With wickets in the middle, he has dented opponent's momentum as seen in the game against England where he accounted for Jonny Bairstow, Eoin Morgan and later Ben Stokes.
"We finished our preparation today with a good chat just before we came down to the ground".
"It will also act as a wake-up call for the entire cricket fraternity that Pakistan can not be side stepped as a cricket force and cries to relaunch worldwide cricket in Pakistan may grow stronger after this performance". "The mistakes we, ade in the first game will not be repeated". The guys have been special and I can't praise them enough. "We've practiced the same way from the first day we came here".
For us, it will be a clincher in terms of the brand of cricket that we want to play, where we want to take the team.
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