LONDON • Virat Kohli will call for his India side to play the game and not the occasion in cricket's Champions Trophy final tomorrow, 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 for their group-stage match a fortnight ago - a one-sided affair that India won comfortably - The Oval in London could now be set to host the most-watched cricket match of all time.
Sarfraz Ahmed's Pakistan side have risen from the canvas since their error-strewn opener, with three successive victories including the eight-wicket humbling of England that secured their passage to the final and demonstrated the potency of their bowling attack.
It is something that has not gone unnoticed in the India camp.
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"I have been very impressed," said Kohli, who hit an unbeaten 96 from 78 balls in India's nine-wicket semi-final win over Bangladesh in front of a record one-day crowd of 24,340 in Birmingham.
"Their turnaround has been magnificent. Obviously if you reach the final you have to play some good cricket and so credit to them.
"Regardless of who you play in the final, it's always going to be challenging because once you start thinking that it's a big game then your mindset changes.
"What we are going to try to do is repeat the similar sort of cricket that we have played, knowing their strengths and weaknesses."
The Indian side are looking ominous, not least the captain himself who on Thursday - with his 96 not out - became the fastest batsman to 8,000 one-day runs from 175 innings and passed the 182 it took South Africa's AB de Villiers.
Opener Rohit Sharma laid the foundation for victory over Bangladesh with an unbeaten 123 from 129 balls. But the victory also owed much to Kohli's captaincy.
Bringing on the slingy side-arm darts of Kedar Jadhav proved an inspired move as Bangladesh were restricted to 264-7 in 50 overs, with Tamim Iqbal (70) and Mushfiqur Rahim (61) both winkled out by the part-timer when well set.
Kohli said: "It ended up changing the whole game for us. Jadhav's a smart cricketer. He knows where the batsmen get trouble, and, if you can think like a batter when you're bowling, it's obviously a bit of an advantage. So I think that he executed today perfectly."
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
INDIA V PAKISTAN
StarHub Ch236 & Singtel TV Ch123, tomorrow 5.20pm