Emotions are at fever pitch on both sides of the border â”€ the nail-biting, high-octane Pakistan-India Champions Trophy final is just hours away, and cricket loyalists are anxiously calculating the chances of their team winning.
Here’s some advice cricket gurus have for the Pakistani team, and what they have to say about the odds facing the green shirts.
Bowlers will be key: Wasim Akram
“The boys have nothing to lose â”€ They were the underdogs in this tournament and yet there they are in the final against India.
Who do you think will win the Champions Trophy 2017 title on Sunday?
“They should not feel any pressure and play their natural cricket. The key is to not let the thought of failure set foot in your mind. Go into the ground and play the best cricket you have played.
“The bowlers will be key. If the young guns take wickets in the middle overs and prevent Indian batting settling during that time, Pakistan could win this with ease.
“Whether it is Hassan Ali, Junaid Khan, Muhammad Amir, Rumman Raees or Shadab Khan they have all been great contributors at attacking the middle order of the opposing team, and if they continue the streak, we are in for an entertaining final.
“Sarfaraz should not listen to any criticism and pay heed to anyone spewing negativity. He should have tunnel vision today and only focus on leading his boys to a win. He is a young captain and he is learning fast and the nation is proud of him, regardless of what a few people might say.
“He should be of the mind to play at his usual spot in the lineup, which is number five or six, and if the team does extremely well while and have scored 250 plus runs in 40 overs, the young skipper can take the risk of coming in to bat at number four.
“If Pakistan loses three top-order batsmen early and then Sarfaraz comes in and loses his wicket too, then they will lose the momentum and Pakistan may not win.
“Lastly, we should not forget that these are our boys, our kids. Win or lose, we should be proud of them and support them. They are a young team and have achieved what no one thought they could. In case of a loss, criticism should remain constructive.”
“Pakistanâ€™s performance in last three matches has been extraordinary, and we have witnessed unity in the team, which has boosted their confidence.
“I believe the young guns will carry same spirit on in the final against India, and I would suggest that the boys bowl first.
“Sarfaraz has been excellent in all departments. The young captain should descend into the field with the winning XI and make Pakistan proud.”
“The young team has won the past three matches by sticking to a certain combination. Sarfaraz should use the same strategy in the final.
“The young guns should be lauded for the way they have come back in the tournament. Form the underdogs that lost their first match, to the cohesive unit that stunned England, the team has gone through a transformation within the span of the tournament.”
“I believe Pakistan has a greater chance of winning this match because of the way they have turned their fortune around in the series.
“Pressure, I think, will be on India as they did not expect to meet a reformed Pakistan side in the final. If we sustain pressure in the early overs, the game will instantly become interesting.
“Sarfaraz should be praised for the way he has turned the team around and boosted their confidence, especially with the way they had been performing before the last three matches.
“Lastly, I think Pakistan should play Faheem Ashraf instead of Shadab Khan.”
Remain calm, don’t let nerves get to you: Sohaib Maqsood
“The Sarfaraz XI have shown that they are capable of winning against any team, regardless of their ICC ranking.
“My only suggestion to the team would be for them to remain calm and not let their nerves get better of them.
“No doubt India is a settled team and have been in great form, but our performance against other teams suggests that we are capable of great things.
“We play with great emotion when it comes to Pak-India matches but if we were to play with our minds and strategise well, we would break their winning streak.”