LONDON: Pakistan are well aware of the fact that their hopes of winning the ICC Champions Trophy for the first time will hinge on how early they scalp India’s top-order in the final here at The Oval on Sunday (today).
More specifically, Pakistan know that they will have to dismiss India’s batting maestro, Virat Kohli, early to make sure that their rivals don’t run away with yet another easy win against them.
Kohli has five man-of-the-match awards in only 17 matches against Pakistan across all formats. He averages 96 in wins against them, and 7.20 in defeats. That’s why Pakistan have announced plans to unleash their pace attack at him and the rest of the Indian top-order, promising that they will strike them with the new ball. But Kohli, seemed as serene as ever, on Saturday as he stressed that he and his Indian team will treat the final as any other game.
The Indian captain said that his team knows how to handle pressure of a big match like today’s finale against Pakistan."It’s been quite a few years I have been doing that (coping with the pressure of expectations). Honestly, you can't think of those things when you step onto the field," Kohli told reporters in his pre-match press conference at The Oval.
"I know there are expectations, there are people who want us to do well every time we play. But I understand as a player that it is not possible. It is very important to realise the things that might or might not happen in the game. And you have to be close to reality and you can’t live in a dilemma and you have to focus on the things that you have to do on the field," he said.
"This is a part of being an Indian cricketer and then having performed for a few years, obviously expectations have gone up. You have to find a way to deal with it. You can’t ignore it also and have to maintain a balance. I think I have been able to strike a good balance and I am sure I will be fine tomorrow.
"We never spoke about the semi-final in a different way and we are not talking about the final in a different way either. We have practised the same way we did before previous matches and our approach hasn't changed at all," Kohli stressed."We have changed nothing from the first match that we played in this tournament. We are keeping things simple as the more you are relaxed, the better decisions you make. I feel that when you reach this far into a tournament, you can't work on techniques. It's how you prepare for the big games. You have to believe in yourselves.”
India hold the upper hand going into the final but Kohli made it clear that they will not take anything for granted."No team in the tournament is guaranteed a victory as whichever team performs on that day will win. We can only control our performances and that is what we are looking to do," the star batsman said.