Headlines on Sunday (June 18) were mainly, almost entirely, all about the Champions Trophy 2017 final between India and Pakistan later in the day, with news from the two camps jostling for space with views from cricket pundits.
With India playing Pakistan in England, discussions about the future of bilateral cricket between the two countries cropped up again, while Steve O’Keefe questioned the Australian selectors’ wisdom in selecting Ashton Agar instead of him for the tour of Bangladesh.
Favourites meet the dark horses (The Times of India)
Two teams with possibly the greatest cricketing rivalry find themselves face-to-face in the final. India and Pakistan came into this tournament with completely different perspectives. Holders India were favourites to defend the title. Pakistan, on the other hand, were just another team in Group B and the fact that they had even qualified for the tournament was huge. On Sunday, the favourites meet the `dark horses,’ says Sourav Ganguly.
The sun is setting on Southall Park and Raman Gill and his mates are coming to the end of their game of tennis-ball cricket. “We only get time after work,” he shrugs. “We play when we can.” Gill runs Dhani’s Unisex Salon just down the road, a place easy to locate, he insists. “We’re right next to Shahanshah Samosa Shop; it’s been around for ages, just ask anyone.” On Sunday, Gill will shut shop early in the afternoon and hurry over to a nearby pub, to watch the final of the ICC Champions Trophy between India and Pakistan. Cricket’s greatest (arguably) rivalry is perhaps best experienced on neutral territory, for it’s where supporters of both nations co-exist.
If it is overcast, Team India should play another seamer (The Times of India)
Who would have thought that after the drubbing they received from India in their first match of the group stage, Pakistan would be contesting the final of the ICC Champions Trophy. That they are is due to some brilliant captaincy from Sarfraz Ahmed and greater determination shown in their other two games.
Indian bowlers have their say (Deccan Herald)
India has now made excellence at ICC events a habit. On Sunday, they will be playing in their second straight Champions Trophy final and if you include their 2011 World Cup triumph and a semifinal appearance in the quadrennial showpiece two years ago in Australia, it is indeed a proud achievement.
A major contributor to their success is the fantastic rise of the bowlers, who for many years were considered the weakling as India struggled to compete in alien conditions. Their collective improvement and the country’s ability to keep churning out top-class batsmen frequently has now resulted in India assuming a ruthless edge — something that was seen in the all-conquering Australian sides from the mid 1990s till the end of the last decade.
Fine victory caps India’s glorious run (The Hindu)
India’s wondrous capacity to achieve in overs-specific cricket was in evidence once again. It did not shock the cricket world or turn it upside down like it did in the World Cup in 1983. It was expected to win the final of the Benson and Hedges World Championship of Cricket against Pakistan.
A look back at The Hindu’s match report of the Melbourne final, by R. Mohan. This appeared on March 11, 1985.
The Kiwi hand behind the fearless Fakhar (Cricket.com.au)
Brendon McCullum inspired England’s one-day revolution and the man who helped derail the hosts’ Champions Trophy campaign this week has also credited the former Kiwi skipper for the blistering start to his international career. Fakhar says the confidence he gained from playing with McCullum at the Lahore Qalanders during the Pakistan Super League earlier this year has helped to hasten his progression through the ranks in the months since.
Angles Of Deception (The Indian Express)
With an assortment of fast bowlers with various methods in both sides, The Indian Express peeps into what angles they’d probe to get the upper hand in the final. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, for instance.
His stock ball shapes into the right-hander. With negligible movement in the air or off the surface on CT surfaces , he, like several others, has pulled his length back a little, though the line is as impeccable as ever.
Who should sit out to accommodate now-fit Mohammad Amir? (The Indian Express)
After missing the semi-final against England due to back spasm, speedster Amir is expected to be in Pakistan’s playing XI. Despite the left-arm pacer possessing a poor record against the Men in Blue, his experience paves way for him over youngster Rumman Raees, who earned his first international cap replacing Amir.
Cricketing community counting down the seconds to Sunday (The Express Tribune)
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.
Why are cricket matches between India and Pakistan so few and far between? Why has it been nearly ten years since the two teams played a Test match. It’s also been four years since an ODI series. Why are aficionados on both sides of the Radcliffe Line repeatedly denied the joy of enjoying one of the most iconic rivalries in cricket?
Even as the Prime Ministers, National Security Advisors, Foreign Ministers, diplomats and bureaucrats of the two countries meet often in this country or that, or even abroad, cricket is seemingly used as a diversionary tactic. ‘Nationalists’ on both sides, especially India, are quick to jump on to the bandwagon. “No peace, no cricket” is their ready response.
As everyone has set their eyes on the high voltage final of ICC Champions Trophy between Pakistan and India on Sunday – fans from both the countries are also ready to cheer out loudly for their respective teams. Two familiar faces, Chacha Cricket from Pakistan and Sudhir Sachin from India, have also arrived in London and are ready to support their teams on Sunday.
The coaches behind India’s cricket champions (The Hindustan Times)
Forty years ago, a candidate presented himself at the cricket selection trials of St Stephen’s College. St Stephen’s then had the best college team in Delhi, and perhaps India. The new lad who came to the nets that day had two disadvantages: He was not articulate in English, and he was not to money or status born. Promising freshmen cricketers in St Stephen’s announced themselves by their pedigree; they either came from elite boarding schools such as Mayo College or from famous English-medium schools in New Delhi such as Modern School. More from Ramachandra Guha.
The candidate: Anil Kumble or Virender Sehwag as the new coach (The Indian Express)
Indian cricket is about to take a crucial call on its future when it chooses either Anil Kumble or Virender Sehwag as the new coach. Both were self-made cricketers who shrugged off conventional wisdom but both offer different coaching philosophies. Kumble is better-planned, Sehwag more instinctive. Kumble is hands on, Sehwag less intrusive. The eventual choice, though, should depend on the answer to this question: Does this young team led by a powerful captain need to be reined in at times or does it need to be unshackled?
Steve O’Keefe questions Trevor Hohns why he was dropped for Bangladesh tour (Sydney Morning Herald)
Australian spinner Steve O’Keefe quizzed chief selector Trevor Hohns over Ashton Agar’s selection for the Test tour Bangladesh, such was his frustration at being dropped. O’Keefe is shattered by his demotion from the 14-man squad for two Tests beginning in August, just months after his 19 wickets at an average of 23.26 against India, including 12 wickets in the first Test at Pune through a mix of spin and sliding deliveries.
Meg Lanning ‘as good as I’ve seen’, says Australian cricket veteran Alex Blackwell (Sydney Morning Herald)
Veteran Alex Blackwell has declared captain Meg Lanning the best batter she has ever seen on the eve of the Women’s World Cup in England where Australia will chase a record seventh title. “She’s as good as I’ve seen, that’s all I can say,” former Australian captain Alex Blackwell said.