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The game that always ‘stops two nations’ comes again to a third when title-holders India face Pakistan in the Champions Trophy final at London’s Oval ground on Sunday.
And the question millions of cricket fans around the world, possibly even a billion, are all asking is ‘which Pakistan will turn up?’
But few would dispute that India-Pakistan is now the world game’s premier contest – certainly not the ICC who, by their own admission, now fix the draw at their events to ensure the Asian giants meet in the group phase.
At 50 overs: Pak scores 338
After 49 overs, Pakistan 329/4: What was the over by Bumrah!? 11 runs, 2 no-balls in the 49th over. Yeah sure, the free-hits did not cost much but how can a bowler at this level bowl so many no-balls? Kohli cannot believe it. 11 runs despite no boundaries.

After 48 overs. Pakistan 318/4: Boy, did India need that over from Bhuvi. Just when it looked like that 340 was a dead certainity, Bhuvi concedes five runs, with a series of good yorkers and one excellent bouncer.
After 47 overs, Pakistan 313/4: When Bhuvi concedes 11 in an over, you know things are not looking good for India. Hafeez and Wasim are taking the bowling apart. 44 off 27 for Hafeez, who hit the cleanest six of the day so far, with a pull shot that made Rameez Raja remember Ricky Ponting – and it really was that good.
After 45 overs, Pakistan 294/4: Up, up and Pakistan aare away. One over too many for Kedar Jadhav, as it turned out. 16 runs from Jadhav’s 3rd over. Two massive sixes, one each by Hafeez and Imad Wasim. Bumrah came back earlier and conceded 8.

After 43 overs Pakistan 270/4: The man with the golden arm! Kedar Jadhav gives Kohli another breakthrough, Babar Azam is gone, four short of a fifty. With Jadeja & Ashwin conceding 137 in 18 overs so far, one can only wonder why Kedar was held back.
After 42 overs Pakistan 266/3: Jadeja continues to get a pasting. 10 from his comeback over (bit odd to see him come back in the death after the runs he has leaked). Hafeez gets going right away, with 2 fours in that over. Even Bhuvi concedes 9 from his over, he had conceded 11 from his previous six.
After 40 overs Pakistan 247/3: With every Indian bowler struggling, Bhuvi has been simply outstanding. Just one run from his comeback over, with figures now reading 6-2-11-1. And the wicket of Shoaib Malik too. A well-directed short ball, Malik can only send it to Kedar Jadhav at deep point. Who incidentally came into bowl in the previous over and gave away 7 runs – not bad, we suppose.
After 38 overs Pakistan 239/2: What Pakistan have done so well today has been to make sure they don’t lose wickets in a bunch, as they are prone to. Azhar’s wicket was followed by an onslaught from Fakhar. And Fakhar’s wicket has been followed by Babar stepping up. Four boundaries for him since Fakhar’s wicket, the pick of the shots were the last two in Pandya’s last over. A cut over point and a flick of the wrists, nonchalant as ever, through square leg. And Shoaib Malik hasn’t waited to get going – sends Jadeja soaring over long-off for a six.
And amid all the carnage, Hardik has sent in a good spell. He was seen as the weak link before today, but has finished 10-0-53-1.
 
Breakthrough for INDIA, and it’s the big wicket of Fakhar Zaman: A stunning catch by Ravindra Jadeja! Fakhar goes aerial again, mistimes a skiddy ball from Pandya but it felt like this was going to fall safe. Not with Sir Jadeja around though. He ran back, ran sideways, stretched his hand at the last minute and made a difficult catch look ridiculously easy.

After 33 overs, Pakistan 200/1: Fakhar could shift gears now, and he’s sent Ashwin packing. In his last over, the first ball flies over long on for a massive six! Ashwin finishes with 10-0-70-0, a day to forget thanks to one guy. (Or maybe two, if you include Bumrah for that no ball)
After 31 overs Pakistan 186/1: DRINKS, and it’ll be tasting real sweet for Pakistan. Fakhar reaches his maiden century with the most Fakhar of shots – he was getting ready to reverse sweep, seemed like he was about to fall over but manages to get bat on it, it races to the fence for four. Played, Zaman! Played.
After 30 overs, Pakistan 179/1: 50 partnership up for Zaman and Babar Azam. It’s all been Fakhar Zaman though. He’s on 96 Babar has 8 off 19, that tells you what you need to know.
After 27 overs, Pakistan 167/1: You know what’s happened since the run-out? Pakistan are running with this match, is what. 39 runs in the four overs since Azhar Ali walked back. And 33 off those have come in the last two. 16 from Jadeja and 17 from Ashwin as Zaman has just unleashed himself on India. Some of the most unorthodox shots mixed with orthodox cover drives... a six off Ashwin where he stepped down and swatted it over long-on was really quite something.
And this is hurting India, big time.
 
 
Breakthrough for India: And it comes in the most Pakistan way there is. Azhar hits it to Bumrah, takes off for a single and Bumrah falls over the ball, recovers and throws it to Dhoni. Meanwhile, Azhar and Fakhar are having a tete-a-tete at the same 


After 22 overs, Pakistan 125/0: Azhar Ali is in the zone. A beautiful cut past point, as Jadeja concedes 7 runs in his 4th over.
After 20 overs, Pakistan 114/0: 50 for Azhar Ali. 50 for Fakhar Zaman. Much to cheer for Pakistan. An expensive over for Jadeja, two boundaries, 11 runs. Azhar first brings up his 50 with a single and then a horror misfield by Yuvraj, brings up Fakhar’s 50.
 

After 18 overs, Pakistan 100/0: That’s right, three figures up for Pakistan and they are yet to lose a wicket. Anyone say Pakistan would be nervous? This is now officially a magnificent start by Azhar and Fakhar. And what a shot to get there as well. A lofted on from Zaman off Jadeja!
After 17 overs Pakistan 93/0: Drinks and it can’t have come soon enough for India. Fittingly, keeping with how the day has gone far, Azhar miscues a drive and it barely crosses the inner circle but landed away from every fielder.
After 15 overs, Pakistan 86/0: Indian bowlers are under the pump, says Shane Warne and it’s difficult to argue with that. Oddly enough, Azhar Ali is the one dominating proceedings still , getting to his 40 off 45 balls, with a four of new bowler Hardik, who concedes 8 in his first over.
After 13 overs, Pakistan 74/0: Kohli is trusting Bumrah despite his poor start. Comes back into the attack after the powerplay is done, but he’s still struggling. 12 runs from his 2 overs on the comeback, a couple of more wides, a stunning cover driver from Fakhar. Ashwin concedes 6 in his over too as Pakistan tick along nicely.
After 10 overs, Pakistan 56/0: Bhuvneshwar is on song today, first up was a maiden to Azhar Ali, now a maiden over to Fakhar. Coming from over the wicket, the angle is proving tough for Zaman to get away. A couple of bouncers, a couple of anglers – and the result is figures of 5-2-10-0 for Bhuvi.
Ashwin from the other end, goes for 8 in his second. Azhar sweeping and sweeping well for a boundary.
 

After 8 overs, Pakistan 38/0: Ashwin into the attack and Azhar Ali says welcome with the most imperious of straight drives for six. Danced down and send it high and long. 10 runs from that over & not the start Kohli wanted from his off-spinner.
 
After 7 overs, Pakistan 38/0: Fakhar and Azhar are now swinging freely, but not everything is connecting. Nine runs from Bumra’s over, two boundaries again. Bhuvi pulls it back for India a bit, with 2 runs in his over.
After 5 overs, Pakistan 27/0: As Shastri would say, it’s all happening!
Bumrah’s 4th over was an event in itself. Here’s how that went: 3.1: Wide 3.1: Wicket, no ball 3.1: Dot 3.2: 4 3.3: 1 3.4: 4 3.5: Dot 3.6: wide 3.6: Dot. Yes, Fakhar Zaman was caught by Dhoni off a no-ball. How many times, Jasprit? How many times? Fakhar then chops one between the stumps and the keeper for four.
 
8 runs from Bhuvi’s over as well. Leg byes and then Fakhar, new life and all, dances down and pulls hard.
After 3 overs, Pakistan 7/0: Jasprit Bumrah from the other end, Zaman’s big shots are yet to be seen. Bhuvneshwar from the other end is economical again, just 2 runs from his over. Kedar Jadhav, not India’s best fielder, misses a direct-hit that would have sent Fakhar back.
 
After 1 over, Pakistan 0/0: Bhuvi starts with the new ball and starts well. First ball, there is a hint of away swing that Azhar leaves well. Then a few flowing drives, but found the fielders. Maiden over to begin proceedings...


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