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Shades of ’92 for Pakistan as they face England in T20 World Cup final

Pakistan and England are all set for an epic clash for Twenty20 World Cup title in the Australian city of Melbourne, where the legend of the cornered tigers, Pakistan, was forged 30 years ago, and England are again the final foe.

Ahead of Sunday’s contest, Pakistan captain Babar Azam urged his players to believe in themselves and told fans to keep praying for the delivery of their second T20 World Cup title, while his rival Jos Buttler would be looking forward to realise his childhood dream of leading his England to World Cup victory.

After losing their first two Super 12 matches, Pakistan, the 2009 champions have rebounded superbly and bring momentum into Sunday’s final against England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

“I’m more excited than nervous since we’ve performed well in our last three matches,” Babar told reporters at the MCG on Saturday.

“It is no doubt that pressure exists but it can only be suppressed with confidence and belief in ourselves. And for good results it is impertinent that one must do so.

“The Pakistan nation has always been our backbone. They uphold us through their enthusiasm. I would again request them to support us and keep praying.”

‘Little Dynamo’

The final comes 30 years after Imran Khan’s Pakistan beat England to win the 50-overs World Cup, the country’s first global white-ball title.

Pakistan board chief Ramiz Raja, who opened the batting and took the final catch that sealed victory in the 1992 final, shared memories of the tournament with Babar’s team on Friday.

A settled Pakistan are unlikely to make any changes to their team for the final, and Babar said they would not stray from the trusted game-plan.

If there’s one player who has turned Pakistan’s fortunes around in recent games is “Little Dynamo” Mohammad Haris, who had never played in the batting conditions of Australia. After both Haider Ali and Asif Ali struggled with form in early group games, Haris did what a young Inzamam-ul-Haq had done for Imran Khan in 1992.

READ MORE: Pakistan cruise into T20 World Cup final after beating New Zealand

Buttler dreams big for England

It is Buttler’s first major tournament since succeeding Eoin Morgan as white-ball skipper.

“I’ve certainly had a few dreams about that kind of thing,” said the 32-year-old on Saturday.

“Of course I think it really links back to what you were like as a kid, the kind of things you would be doing in the garden with your brother and sister, pretending to lift a trophy.

“And now to be able to have the opportunity, to have a chance, to live that kind of thing out is incredibly special.”

As he prepares for his biggest day as a captain, Buttler admitted those childhood memories had come flooding back.

“I think it’s fine to sort of think about those things and what it might feel like or what it would mean,” he said of potentially being a World Cup-winning captain.

England’s path to the final was serene compared to the stress faced by Pakistan after excruciating losses to India at the MCG and Zimbabwe in Perth to start the tournament.

From an improbable position, Azam’s team has since shown the stirring spirit from 1992 with consecutive victories over the Netherlands, South Africa, Bangladesh and New Zealand to reach the final.

READ MORE: England roll over India to cruise into T20 World Cup final

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