Amid all the rush, the Indian team arrived for its practice session looking absolutely calm and composed. There was no shred of evidence that would suggest that there was a sense of excitement in the bunch. They went about their mundane routine of warming up by playing football, followed by the fielding drills and then the respective practice of the batsmen and the bowlers.
LIVE BLOG:India vs Pakistan Live Cricket Score, Champions Trophy 2017 Final
It is this sense of calm and the ability to switch off ahead of a big clash, which has seen Team India reach the business end of all ICC tournaments except one since 2011. Barring the 2012 ICC WT20, India has won two ICC tournaments, lost in the semi-final twice and reached the final of two events. The desire to treat every match as same and the ability to control the adrenaline is what has turned this team into an efficient winning machine is what the captain also feels.
"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.
ALSO READ | We Know How to Deal With Expectations Ahead of Indo-Pak Match, Says Virat Kohli
"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 in a tournament, you can't work on techniques. It's how you prepare for the big games. You have to believe in yourselves," Virat Kohli told the media on the eve of the match.
Yes, it is the minute details that one needs to work on ahead of a big match like this and there was enough evidence of the same on Saturday. While the batsmen's practice session in the nets followed the regular pattern, it is the pace bowlers who went through an intense session under the careful watch of coach Anil Kumble.
KUMBLE LAYS DOWN STRATEGY FOR PACERS
While most of the cameras focussed on India's batting heavyweights, the real action was taking place at the other corner of the ground as the trio of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya bowled on the practice wicket under the careful vigil of Kumble.
For Bhuvneshwar, Kumble used the marker cones to help the bowler perfect his length against both the right and left handed batsmen. The Indian team coach placed the cones on both sides of the pitch around the good length mark and Bhuvneshwar was seen pitching the ball where the cone was kept.
Kumble's gestures suggested that he would want Bhuvi to force the batsmen to play the cover drive on the up outside the off-stump during the match, which would then bring the slip fielders into play. Bhuvi has so far troubled all the batsmen with his accurate line and length.
ALSO READ | India vs Pakistan Final: Great Chance to Restore Our Pride, Says Imran Khan
For Bumrah, the focus shifted to pitching the ball up to the bat. While the pacer kept bowling yorkers with the ease of playing marbles, there was a lot of intense discussion between the slinger and Kumble about the position of his wrist at the time of delivery.
For Hardik, Kumble had a different suggestion again. India's finest leg-spinner was seen running in like a pacer for the first time. The purpose was to help Hardik perfect his run-up, as it is the momentum generated through the run-up that eventually decides how accurate a bowler is. With Hardik struggling with his line and length from time to time, the medium pacer has often been attacked by the opposition and Kumble wants no loose ends in his bowling attack for the big final on Sunday.
India had in Birmingham gone with a three-man pace attack along with Ravindra Jadeja and Hardik Pandya, and captain Kohli had said that the playing XI was decided keeping the opposition in mind.
India though had changed its strategy after the loss to Sri Lanka and included off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin in place of Umesh Yadav. When asked if he would include a specialist paceman in the playing XI for the final in place of someone like Pandya, Kohli was clear that he didn't want to tinker with the winning combination.
"We are not looking to change too many things and I will always back a player like Hardik as he provides a good balance to the squad. He can bat, he can bowl, he is just a complete package," said Kohli.
ALSO READ | India vs Pakistan Final: 5 Most Memorable Sledging Incidents
With a strong top order, experienced middle order and a disciplined bowling attack at his disposal, Kohli and his band of boys are expected to continue India's domination of Pakistan in ICC events, but the captain is aware of the threat posed by a rejuvenated Pakistan team, who have not only found their winning combination, but are also doing the basics right in the field.
"Past results don't matter and we as a team never look at statistics. Some teams start well and the other teams make strong comebacks. We know that about Pakistan and we will treat this game as a fresh one," Kohli said.
Another interesting development during the practice session was a short meeting between captain Virat Kohli and coach Anil Kumble. The two were seen chatting with each other for a fair bit of time after Kohli had finished practising in the nets.
Kohli had doused the fire surrounding reports of a rift between him and Kumble when he addressed the media before the India-Pakistan match in Birmingham, brushing aside all the talk and rumours. Since then the focus has shifted to cricket, but Kohli and Kumble were never seen engaging in any kind of discussion with each other during any of the practice sessions so far.
So, to see the duo come together and talk to each other on the field was a pleasant sight, although what the topic of conversation was is not yet known.
ALSO READ | We Can Beat Any Side In the World If We Play at Our Best: Pak Coach Mickey Arthur
Whatever be the relationship between the two, they are ensuring that it does not have a bearing on the team's morale as India has so far played the tournament with thorough professionalism. And a similar outlook will be expected from the 'Men in Blue' when they take to the field on Sunday, looking to become the first team to win the Champions Trophy for a record third time.
India playing XI: Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli(c), Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w), Hardik Pandya, Kedar Jadhav, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah
Pakistan playing XI: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan
anil kumbleChampions trophychampions trophy 2017Hardik PandyaIndia vs Pakistan FinalLive Cricket Scorelive scoreSarfraz Ahmedvirat kohli2017 ICC Champions TrophyAzhar MahmoodIndiaPakistan national cricket team
First Published: June 18, 2017, 8:30 AM IST