Even before the Champions Trophy kick-started, Junaid Khan took a dig at India captain Virat Kohli, stating that the batsman has been unsuccessful against him. However, Junaid did not feature for Pakistan in their group stage match against India. So, the much-hyped contest did not materialise.
However, that head-to-head battle got a new lease of life as India and Pakistan reached the finals of the Champions Trophy, which will be played at Kennington Oval on Sunday. The battle is fully on.
If one looks at the history between the two players, Junaid has got the better of Kohli, dismissing him three out of the four matches. But Junaid Khan seems to have forgotten that was some four years ago when Kohli was not the batsmen he is at present times.
Kohli will be eager to prove – who is the boss?
There is more to this battle than ever before. Kohli, barring his duck against Sri Lanka, has been in top form. He has scores of 81, 76 and 96 runs. What makes these innings a lot more wonderful is that he has not been dismissed.
Junaid, on the other hand, after failing to make the cut against India, has been one of the most consistent bowlers in the Champions Trophy. He has managed to take seven wickets in three matches. With the pitch not supporting the bowlers much, his wicket-taking ability has stood out.
Both the players are in great form, and the battle is just expected to get better when these two players meet one another in the final. It has all the ingredients of a classic encounter.
Junaid seems to have become the big wicket taker of Pakistan, taking important wickets. He has the knack of taking wickets with his accurate line and length. Pakistan captain, Sarfraz Ahmed will look forward to his in-form pacers to dismiss the top order players of India, including Kohli.
The world has been talking about Kohli's weakness, at the start of the innings, just outside the off-stump, and expect Junaid to take advantage of it. It is not only his ability to bowl with the new ball, which could trouble India. He is great with the old ball too.
Kohli can be quite vulnerable at the start, but once he settles down, and gets his rhythm going, the run-machine in Kohli will take over and dominate proceedings.
Kohli is coming into this final with a classy 78-ball 96 against Bangladesh while Junaid, who took two wickets against England, played an important role as a bowler in the win.
Who will win this head-to-head encounter – Junaid or Kohli?