"Sometimes that's our strength, our unpredictability. We do sometimes make it difficult for ourselves," Pakistan coach Micky Arthur said before the first semi-final of ICC Champions Trophy 2017. Pakistan have come a long way since their defeat against India in their first match of the ongoing tournament. Their bowlers leaked runs, the fielding was below par and some shots were not acceptable by any means during their batting against India, but then Pakistan won the next two matches out of nowhere – against South Africa and Sri Lanka – and booked their place in the semi-final.
Their biggest strength is bowling and they bowled well as a unit in the last three matches, including the semi-final. However, Pakistan's batting in ODI cricket is still is search of a role model who can make big runs for them consistently. Babar Azam has shown a lot of promise, but in this tournament, his performance has been mediocre.
Bowling has also been India's big source of strength in this tournament, and their bowlers have done well except in the match against Sri Lanka. Moreover, India's batting is well balanced. Their top-three batsmen are in the form of their lives.
Importantly, the bowlers of both teams have done well in the middle overs. The final may be billed as a contest between India's batting and Pakistan's bowling, but it could well be a contest between India's bowling and Pakistan's batting if India bat second.
The overall head-to-head record between the two teams in the Champions Trophy is 2-2.
Let's look at some other important stats and facts before the 'Mother of All Contests' begins.
This will be the 11th time India and Pakistan will face each other in the final of an ODI tournament. Pakistan have a win-loss ratio of 2.333 in ODI tournament finals against India, which is their best against any team that they have faced in more than one ODI tournament final.
India have won 12 matches against Pakistan in ICC tournaments which is the joint most times a team has beaten an opposition in ICC events.
Pakistan have won 72 matches against India in ODIs which is the second most times they have defeated an opposition in ODIs. However, India have won three ODIs out of four in England against Pakistan.
Kennington Oval, London has hosted 64 ODIs so far, the most among all the grounds in England. This will be the first time that India and Pakistan will play each other in ODIs at this historic ground.
The average total batting first at the Kennington Oval over the last 10 ODIs is 268. Moreover, the average total batting first at the ground in ODIs this year is 260. However, It will be vital for a team who bats first to post more than an average total on the board at The Oval on Sunday as only one of the last five matches has been won by teams batting first at the venue in ODIs.
India's win/loss ratio of 0.781 in ODI tournament finals is slightly better than Pakistan's win-loss ratio of 0.774.
India, unlike Pakistan, have had a strong overall record in the Champions Trophy. The 'Men in Blue' have won 18 matches in all in the tournament so far, which is a record. On the contrary, Pakistan have lost 12 matches overall which is also a record.
This will be the ninth appearance for India in the final of ICC tournaments which is the second most for any team.
This will be the seventh appearance for Yuvraj Singh in the final of ICC tournaments which is the most for any player.
Note: ICC Champions Trophy 2017 final has been included in both the above stats.
Let's look at some individual records in India-Pakistan ODIs:
Highest run-scorer: Sachin Tendulkar (2,526 runs)
Highest wicket-taker: Wasim Akram (60 wickets)
Most centuries: Sachin Tendulkar (five) and Salman Butt (five)
Most catches as a fielder: Mohammad Azharuddin (44)
Most dismissals by a wicket-keeper: Moin Khan (71)
Highest total: 356/9 by India at Visakhapatnam in 2005
Lowest total: 79 by India at Sialkot in 1978
1. Virat Kohli's average against Junaid Khan in ODIs is 0.67. Junaid has dismissed him three times so far in ODIs.
2. If Shadab Khan plays in the final against India then he will become the youngest player (18 years and 257 days) ever to feature in a final of an ICC ODI tournament.
3. Kohli's average of 134.66 against Pakistan in ICC events is the highest for a batsman against an opposition in global tournaments. This includes batsmen who have scored at least 300 runs against an opposition in ICC events.
4. Hasan Ali has taken 39 wickets in 20 ODIs. No pace bowler has taken more wickets than him since his ODI debut.