Hosts England and Pakistan will square off against each other in the first semi-final of ICC Champions Trophy which will be played at Cardiff on Wednesday. It was in 2003 World Cup in South Africa when England and Pakistan last collided at an ICC ODI event.
Both England and Pakistan have a stark difference when it comes to their style of play, the former have come a long way in a short space of time since their humiliating first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup. Whereas, the green shirts are capable enough of upsetting the best of the sides on their day with their unpredictable and attacking cricket.
If we go by the odds, the battle between England and Pakistan will not be short on the entertainment factor as the two sides had a long history of creating some indelible memories on the cricket field.
Team India’s former director Ravi Shastri in an exclusive chat with IndiaTV from Cardiff didn’t rule out a possibility of an India-Pakistan final at ICC Champions Trophy and also spoke about how tough it will be for men in green to topple the hosts in the must-win clash.
He gave his excerpts ahead of the match: “There's a possibility of an India-Pakistan final in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 but before that Pakistan have to cross the England hurdle. England is a top team. I think India should reach the final if they play to their strengths. But I feel it will be difficult for Pakistan to beat England because the pitch in Cardiff will help the fast bowlers. Yes, Pakistan also has fast bowlers but the English fast bowlers will test the Pakistan batsmen.”
Shastri also spoke about the second semi-final between India and Bangladesh which will be played at Edgbaston on Thursday.
“Bangladesh have the belief that they can beat India and they have in fact in the past done it. If you see the past two years, they have beaten big teams. But I feel this will be a different ball game. India won't be relaxed. They know that Bangladesh is also a good side and they will have respect for them but they will bring their A game and India will not leave Bangladesh.”
The 55-year old spoke effusively about Bangladesh’s highest run-getter Tamim Iqbal and experienced Shakib Al Hasan who can play a pivotal role for the Tigers in the knockout match. He said: “Bangladesh have a few dangerous players in their line-up. Tamim Iqbal is a good batsman and he is in form. Shakib is always dangerous and Mahmudullah has a great temperament. In the bowling department, Taskin can get wickets at the start.”