Cricket: Composure is key in final against Pakistan, as India openers inspire Kohli over Bangladesh

Star batsman Virat Kohli playing a shot during India's crushing nine-wicket win in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final over Bangladesh at Edgbaston in Birmingham on June 15, 2017.
Star batsman Virat Kohli playing a shot during India's crushing nine-wicket win in the ICC Champions Trophy semi-final over Bangladesh at Edgbaston in Birmingham on June 15, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

BIRMINGHAM, England (THE GUARDIAN, AFP) - India captain Virat Kohli will urge his side to play the game, and not the occasion, in the Champions Trophy final on Sunday, after their brisk disposal of Bangladesh set up a box-office encounter with Pakistan that could break TV viewing records.

The rivals have never met in the final of a 50-over global tournament and with a reported audience of up to a billion people for their group-stage meeting a fortnight ago - a one-sided affair that India won comfortably - The Oval could now be set to host the most watched cricket match of all time.

Kohli heads into the final against India's arch-rivals back on top of the one-day international batting rankings.

But he insists that it is the form of the title holders' opening duo that is giving him confidence in the lead up to Sunday's clash between the sub-continent cricket giants.

The 28-year-old is also top of the tournament batting averages with a scarcely credible mark of 253 - a figure that owes much to the fact that three of his four innings so far have been not outs.

He was undefeated again as India crushed Bangladesh by nine wickets in a commanding semi-final victory at Edgbaston - the venue where they won the 2013 Champions Trophy title - on Wednesday.

GREAT RECOVERY

The turnaround has been magnificent. They've beaten sides that looked really strong against them.

VIRAT KOHLI, India's captain, on Pakistan's progress.

His 96 not out saw Kohli end the match with nearly 10 overs to spare by hitting a four off Sabbir Rahman. But Rohit Sharma was 123 not out at the other end, having shared an unbroken stand of 178 with his skipper.

By the time Kohli came in, however, India were well on their way to chasing down a modest victory target of 265 thanks to a brisk opening partnership of 87 between Sharma and left-hander Shikhar Dhawan, who made 46.

The one-sided affair could not reward the passionate Bangladeshi supporters who were vastly outnumbered. But they can still reflect on their side reaching a global semi-final for the first time in their history, and a journey that included the incredible run chase against New Zealand in Cardiff when they nailed a victory target of 266 after being 33 for four.

India will now finish the tournament against the same team whom they thrashed by 124 runs in Birmingham under a fortnight ago.

Pakistan raised their game to inflict a crushing eight-wicket defeat of previously unbeaten tournament hosts England in their semi-final in the Welsh capital Cardiff.

For all that India's margin of victory was greater, Pakistan's last-four success was arguably even more impressive given they bowled England out for just 211.

"The turnaround has been magnificent," said Kohli of Pakistan's progress. "They've beaten sides that looked really strong against them."