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“I'm looking around in the guys' eyes and I know they're ready.” -Photo by AFP
“I'm looking around in the guys' eyes and I know they're ready.” -Photo by AFP

BIRMINGHAM: Reigning World Cup holders India clash with hosts England in an intriguing Champions Trophy one-day final on Sunday that promises to be a thriller.

The sold-out game at Edgbaston will please organisers and fans alike as a finale to what has been billed as the last edition of the eight-nation tournament before it is replaced by a Test championship in 2017.

The final, worth $2 million to the winners and $1 million to the runners-up, will be contested by teams who've justified their status as the top-ranked one-day sides in the world.

India, winners of the World Cup at home in 2011, proved worthy of their number one ranking by cruising to the final with four straight wins -- the last three by emphatic eight-wicket margins.

Second-ranked England, looking for their first major one-day title, made it to the final with three wins out of four, including a seven-wicket defeat of South Africa in the semi-final at the Oval in London.

Few would hazard to predict the outcome of the dream final between a young and ruthless Indian side and a typically gritty England in front of boisterous supporters from both sides.

If the weather holds -- light rain has been forecast for Sunday -- a classic contest in in store between India's batting firepower and the crafty seam and spin attack of the hosts.

Left-handed opener Shikhar Dhawan has taken the tournament by storm with 332 runs in four matches at an average of 110.66, making him the competition's leading scorer.

Dhawan's scores of 114, 102 not out, 48 and 68, which leave him a strong contender for the player of the tournament award, and valuable opening stands with Rohit Sharma have boosted India at the top of the order.

Left-arm spinner Ravindra Jadeja has been the pick of the bowlers with 10 wickets -- joint-second in the tournament with England spearhead James Anderson behind New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan's 11 scalps.

Jadeja and fellow-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin have been backed admirably by the three-pronged seam attack of Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav in containing opposition batsmen.

“We have played with the consistency and passion we wanted to at the start of the tournament,” delighted India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said.

“But the final will always be a huge challenge.”

England, who begin an eagerly-anticipated Ashes series against Australia next month, will be desperate to bag a major one-day international (ODI) title after suffering defeats in three World Cup finals in 1979, 1987 and 1992, as well as losing the 2004 Champions Trophy final to the West Indies at the Oval.

Captain Alastair Cook believes his side has what it takes to get over the line this time.

“Yeah, it's something which is obviously on our radar. One of our major goals this summer was to try and win the Champions Trophy. Not only will it break that duck of 38 years but also prepare well for the World Cup, as well, if you're looking long-term. It's a big day tomorrow, and we're going to hopefully gain a lot from it if we can play well.

“All I can say is the lads in the last two games under pressure delivered two excellent performances. I can't say no reason why we can't do it tomorrow. I'm looking around in the guys' eyes and I know they're ready; they’re ready to play.”

Their batting revolves around skipper Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, who has answered critics of his perceived slow scoring in the ODI game by emerging as England's highest run-getter in the tournament with 209 runs.

But the hosts' hopes will rest on how well the brilliant Anderson and his new-ball partners, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, are able to contain the Indian batting.

Off-spinner James Tredwell, whose three for 19 in seven overs wrecked South Africa in the semi-final and won him the man-of-the-match award, has ensured England do not miss the injured Graeme Swann.

England have lost eight of their last 10 one-day internationals against Dhoni's men, but all of them were on Indian soil.

When India last played in England in 2011, they were not only blanked 4-0 in the Test series, but lost the one-dayers 3-0. A World Cup game in Bangalore in 2011 between the two sides ended in a sensational tie.

Comments (15) Closed

Fasiha Jun 22, 2013 07:04pm

I love watching these Indian cricketers. They are not only great fielders, bowlers and batters but very charming guys as well. Even for a pakistani like me, it's very difficult to root against charming guys like Virat Kohli, Dhoni, Raina etc. I will be at the game tomorrow with my Pakistani and Indian friends and we will all be cheering for India on Sunday.

Indiarules Jun 22, 2013 07:34pm

Jitega, jitega, India jitega. Very best of luck to men in Blue, you r the world champs, bring the CT home. India zindabad.

sammy Jun 22, 2013 10:17pm

As a indian ofcourse I want india to win,for my fellow pakistanis,when it comes about the region,I m sure pakistan will root for India too.Good luck India.Chak De Phatey.

D Unltd Jun 22, 2013 11:27pm

@Fasiha: That's the spirit Bro.. Thank you!!

ashok Jun 23, 2013 12:26am

No Indian or Pakistanis on this day.Lets stand shoulder to shoulder against the white man to prove it to the world,that they did it right in 1947 by dividing Bharat.We fought togather against the white man then and we should fight them again as one Hindu,muslim,sikh and Christans.

Madhav Jun 23, 2013 01:14am

I still wish it was an India vs Pakistan dream final.

Ajay Vikram Singh Jun 23, 2013 02:29am

@Fasiha: God bless you Fasiha. we need more ppl like you in the subcontinent. Only a woman has that special ability to cut across divisions and societies. if peace comes to our part of the world, it will come only through women of our societies.

Sarah Jun 23, 2013 03:10am

England will again remind them memory of 4-0 thrasing .Indian team fixing matches won't work with England .Every one is not Sri Lanka that they will throw there matches every time.

MCAT Jun 23, 2013 06:28am

Who Cares? Why so much ink devoted to something in which Pakistan has no part and either of them are not well wishers of green and white?

roshan Jun 23, 2013 08:14am

@Fasiha: If people like mentality of you and me existed in India and Pakistan.....Sometimes i do feel that we are one nation of two families.

Feroz Jun 23, 2013 08:36am

The two sides England and India are well matched and only the side that desperately wants to win, will do so. The critical difference between the two well matched teams could be Dhoni. Dhoni is a big match player not particularly bothered by any grand occasion. Without his fearless unbeaten 91 under great pressure India could never have won the finals of the World Cup. To win England will need to see the back of Dhoni very early. Irrespective of when he comes in if he bats till the fiftieth over, it will be curtains for England.

vadhyar hari Jun 23, 2013 10:32am

@Fasiha: Thank you so much Fasiha. All i wanted is let the cup be with our subcontinet. No matter whether it is India, Pak or srilanka. Request all my sisters & bros of Pak tosupport indian team

vadhyar hari Jun 23, 2013 10:35am

My sincere request to all my Pak Bros & sisters to cheer indian Team. All i need is the cup to be in our subcontinent.

Indistani Jun 24, 2013 08:52pm

@Sarah: Please do include Pakistan in your list of teams who has thrown matches against India

srini Jun 24, 2013 11:03pm

@Fasiha: Quite obvious that this is an Indian male posing as a Pakistani female. Shame on you!