Virat Kohli: composure is key in India-Pakistan Champions Trophy final | Sport

Virat Kohli will urge his India side to play the game not the occasion in the Champions Trophy final on Sunday after their brisk disposal of Bangladesh set up a box-office encounter with Pakistan that could break TV viewing records.

The rivals have never met in the final of a 50-over global tournament and with a reported audience of upto a billion people for their group-stage meeting a fortnight ago – a one-sided affair that India won comfortably – The Oval could now be set to host the most watched cricket match of all time.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan side have risen from the canvas since their error‑strewn opener, with three successive victories including the eight-wicket humbling of England in Cardiff on Wednesday that secured their passage to the final and demonstrated the potency of their bowling attack. It is something that has not gone unnoticed in the India camp.

“I have been very impressed,” said Kohli, who hit an unbeaten 96 from 78 balls in India’s nine-wicket defeat of Bangladesh in front of a record one-day crowd of 24,340 in Birmingham. “Their turnaround has been magnificent. Obviously if you reach the final you have to play some good cricket and so credit to them. Regardless of who you play in the finals, it’s always going to be challenging because once you start thinking that it’s a big game then your mindset changes.

“What we are going to try to do is repeat the similar sort of cricket that we have played so far, knowing the strengths and weaknesses they have. Obviously we’ll have to plan a bit according to that, but I don’t know there’s much that we need to change as a team.”

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Pakistan will meet an India side looking ominous, not least the captain himself who on Thursday became the fastest batsman to 8,000 one‑day runs from 175 innings and passed the 182 it took South Africa’s AB de Villiers; the 96 he stroked to all parts of Edgbaston was also merely a case of batting his average in successful run chases.

Kohli’s side looked well capable of chasing 400 against Bangladesh on a flat pitch, such was the dominance of the captain and Rohit Sharma during the pair’s partnership of 178; Sharma finished unbeaten on 123 from 129 balls. But the victory owed much to a bowling performance in the first innings that pegged back their opponents at key times to ensure the relatively modest target.

While Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah delivered at both ends of the innings with two wickets apiece, there was some alchemy from Kohli also. Bringing on the slingy side‑arm darts of Kedar Jadhav proved an inspired move, with Tamim Iqbal and Mushfiqur Rahim both winkled out by the part-timer when set with half-centuries.

Kohli said: “It ended up changing the whole game for us. Jadhav doesn’t bowl much in the nets, but he’s a smart cricketer. He knows where the batsmen get trouble, and if you can think like a batter when you’re bowling it’s obviously a bit of an advantage to any bowler, so I think that he executed today perfectly.”

Though the one-sided affair could not reward the passionate Bangladeshi supporters who were vastly outnumbered at Edgbaston, they can still reflect on their side reaching a global semi-final for the first time in their history and a journey that included the incredible run chase against New Zealand in Cardiff when they chased down a victory target of 266 after being 33 for four.

Mashrafe Mortaza, their captain, said: “Obviously the boys should feel proud. We are coming up still. We need to learn so many things. Physically and skill-wise we have been OK but I think we have got to be a little bit more ready mentally to play this sort of match. Once you are ready mentally, anything can be possible.”

Mashrafe himself will be 35 by the time of the 2019 World Cup and as a seam bowler with longstanding knee problems, may not be with the team for the next assignment. He said: “I haven’t decided as I have not thought about it. But as long as I enjoy it, I’ll keep playing.”

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