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Champions Trophy final preview

When you looked at the Champions Trophy schedule prior to the tournament, it was clear what would be the most fitting finale.

With England hosting the competition and having never tasted victory in a global 50-over tournament, it seemed the stars were aligned for Alastair Cook’s side to do well.

An excellent home record combined with their recent improvement in one-day international cricket meant the eight-team tournament’s final edition represented a great chance for England to end their drought.

Yet if they are to achieve their ultimate ambition, the hosts will have to overcome a sizeable challenge against unbeaten India - who have shown themselves very adept at adapting to English conditions.

Boasting an array of youngsters who have brought much-needed vigour, particularly in the field, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team is completely different to the one he led to World Cup glory just over two years ago.

That has proved a positive with newcomers such as Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja among the stars of the competition thus far; there is little doubt that India have been the best side in the Champions Trophy in the same way there is little doubt the nearest challengers to that title have been England.

How fitting then that the best two teams in the competition should contest the final - something that, amazingly, often does not happen in these events. It is a final that is all the more intriguing for such a clash of styles too.

While India boast a powerful top three for whom attack is seemingly the best form of defence, their English counterparts are more calculated with the aim being to lay a platform for their power hitters down the order.

You could argue that the latter approach will win the day more often, - particularly in English conditions given the remarkable consistency of Cook, Ian Bell and, in particular, Jonathan Trott - but India are in a hot streak with Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli firing on all cylinders.

It is, therefore, likely the performances of the aforementioned trio will decide the game, for they have yet to be tested by a seam attack as dangerous as England’s. In James Anderson, Cook can call upon a paceman at the top of his game, one who almost guarantees a wicket in his opening spell.

Early breakthroughs would leave India in a position they have yet to face in this tournament, of having the middle order undertaking a repair job; on the other hand, getting through the opening overs would leave the World Champions in prime position to add another title.

It promises to be an enthralling battle; a battle which will no doubt be decided by the finest of margins; a battle between two excellent sides with completely different approaches.

All I can say for certain is that it’s the one I, like many, dreamt about when this event kicked off 16 days ago.

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