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Wednesday, 12 December, 2018

Super Sharma can inspire India

Resurgent Pakistan 2-1 for final

Rohit Sharma was run out for 91 against Pakistan but the India man looked in good form
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Champions Trophy final
Sky Sports 2, 10.30am Sunday

Pakistan were dismissed as 80-1 shots for the Champions Trophy after a shocking opening defeat to India but a remarkable revival sees them 2-1 to beat their rivals in the final at The Oval.

India were superior in every discipline in the Group B game at Edgbaston, smashing 72 off the final four overs to post 319-3 before bowling out Pakistan for just 165.

Few could have expected Pakistan to win their next match against South Africa (and India to lose next time out against Sri Lanka) and Sarfraz Ahmed's men upset odds of 5-2 in a convincing semi-final win over England.

India, Racing Post Sport's 9-2 tips at the start of the tournament, eased past South Africa in their final group game and coasted to a nine-wicket win over Bangladesh and they are 5-11 to extend their hold over Pakistan in major tournaments.

Captains Virat Kohli (left) and Sarfraz Ahmed pose with the trophy

India have won the last seven World Twenty20, Champions Trophy and World Cup meetings by margins of 29 runs, eight wickets, eight wickets, seven wickets, 76 runs, six wickets and 124 runs (at Edgbaston on June 4).

Pakistan seemed to freeze against their great rivals in Birmingham but their bowlers have made the most of awkward conditions for batting in their three subsequent games.

That is unlikely to be the case on a scorching day at The Oval and India supporters will be expecting their side's batting power to prove decisive.

Virat Kohli's side have lost only 12 wickets in four matches and openers Shikhar Dhawan (317 runs) and Rohit Sharma (304 runs) are the leading runscorers in the tournament. Azhar Ali is Pakistan's top batsman with a modest tally of 169 in four innings.

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Dhawan was advised at 40-1 by Racing Post Sport to finish top of the tournament runscoring list - as he did at the 2013 Champions Trophy - but his backers shouldn't be counting their winnings just yet given the form of opening partner Sharma.

The right-handed Sharma is 13 runs behind his southpaw teammate after a superb unbeaten 123 in the semi-final win over Bangladesh at Edgbaston and the 9-1 about him being named man of the match is an appealing price.

He looked set for a century in the opening game against Pakistan before a dodgy call from captain Kohli saw him run out for 91 and he made a handsome 78 from 79 balls against Sri Lanka at The Oval.

Sharma has scored 11 one-day centuries in 151 innings for India but seven of those tons have come in his last 33 knocks - a sensational run of form. When he gets in, as he will hope to do on a good batting track, he piles up the runs relentlessly with scores of 264, 209, 171 not out, 150, 141 not out, 138 and 137 on his ODI record.

India bowler Jasprit Bumrah is also worth a small bet to pick up the individual award. He produced a couple of outstanding performances in the last two games, with 2-39 in the semi-final against Bangladesh and 2-28 (and the man-of-the-match award) against South Africa at The Oval.

R Sharma to be man of the match
1pt 9-1 Paddy Power, Sky Bet
J Bumrah to be man of the match
0.5pt 20-1 Betway

Advised on May 31
2pts each-way 9-2 general

The team batting second have won 12 of the last 16 ODIs at The Oval, where India failed to defend 321-6 against Sri Lanka before bowling out South Africa for 192.

Pakistan haven't played an ODI at the venue since the 2013 Champions Trophy, when they lost a low-scoring thriller to the West Indies by two wickets.

Team news
India’s in-form batting unit looks to be set in stone but spinner Ravichandran Ashwin is doubtful with a knee problem so fast bowler Umesh Yadav could earn a recall to the 11.

Mohammad Amir, who missed the semi-final win over England with back spasms, is fit for the final. Rumman Raees had a fine debut in Cardiff but is likely to make way for fellow left-armer Amir.

A hot day is in prospect in south London, with temperatures reaching 29C in the afternoon. Light cloud is forecast and rain shouldn’t disrupt play.

Sharma has scored 11 one-day centuries in 151 innings for India but seven of those tons have come in his last 33 knocks
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