ICC Champions Trophy: Virat Kohli threat looms large over Pakistan in high-octane clash
A couple of hundreds, 373 runs at 41.44 in 10 matches is the story of Virat Kohli’s ODI career against Pakistan. The high-profile ICC Champions Trophy clash between India and Pakistan in Birmingham will be played next Sunday but the mind games have already begun.Pakistan’s left-arm paceman Junaid Khan, who has dismissed Kohli three times in four games, is confident of nullifying the threat posed by the Indian captain on Super Sunday.”I have dismissed him in three out of the four matches we have faced each other. He is a brilliant batsman but he has failed against me. I bowled Kohli in India in front of his fans so it won’t be a problem in England,” Junaid Khan told Express Tribune.Kohli’s record against Junaid is quite below par as he has scored just two runs in 22 deliveries. Interestingly, Junaid last played against India in an ODI in 2014 and his one of the three four-wicket hauls came in the 2012-13 bilateral series. However, in the last two matches against India, including the 2013 Champions Trophy game, Junaid has gone for 65 runs in 11 overs with no success.Looking at the career summaries of the two players from January 2014, Kohli has played 54 ODIs scoring 2601 runs with the help of 10 centuries at 56.54. On the other hand, Junaid has picked up just 13 wickets in 16 matches at a disastrous average of 66.30 and an economy of 6.60. He is also yet to bag a five-wicket haul in limited-overs cricket.While Kohli has emerged as one of the best batsmen in world cricket and has also been elevated to captaincy, the Pakistan pacer continues with his struggle in cementing his place in the team.advertisement’NO EXTRA PRESSURE’Kohli has already refused to be drawn into any extra pressure or hype around the contest.”India vs Pakistan is an exciting game for people in general and the atmosphere in the ground is different. For us cricketers, it’s just any other game and you can ask this to cricketers from both teams. The hype created is not in our control. We prepare for it like every game,” Kohli said at the pre-departure press conference in Mumbai earlier this week.India and Pakistan have not played bilateral series since 2012-13 and have met only in ICC events. India have won six out of seven limited-overs encounters since the 2012 bilateral series.The two teams had clashed in the 2013 Champions Trophy in England (at the same venue as this year: Edgbaston) where India won a rain-truncated game. They next took on Pakistan in the 2015 World Cup in Adelaide and won again, thanks to a classy hundred by Kohli.Last year, India played Pakistan twice and Kohli was the difference between the two teams on both occasions. His magnificent 49 had helped India overcome a dangerous Pakistan pace attack in Dhaka and his sublime half-century resulted in an Indian victory at the Eden Gardens in the World T20.However, it has been over two years since India and Pakistan clashed in an ODI and next Sunday they meet again.Led by Kohli, India start their Champions Trophy title defence against Pakistan and will look to make it 2-2 in head-to-head encounters in the elite tournament.India look a far superior side on paper and even former captain Sourav Ganguly has backed Kohli’s men to topple Pakistan. He also believes that Pakistan are no more a threat in world cricket in limited-overs format.Kohli has been extremely dignified in his interaction with the Pakistani players over the years. Last year, he had gifted Mohammed Amir with a bat and congratulated him for bowling a splendid spell on a green surface in Dhaka.The 28-year-old had also gifted former Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi with a Team India jersey, signed by all his players.