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Friday, April 1, 2011

Its time to grab the World Cup. Preview: India vs Sri Lanka (World Cup Final)

Lankan lions and Indian tigers will take on each other in the big finale of ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Both these teams reached the finals of the World Cup for the 3rd time. India won the title in 1983 by beating West Indies and reached the finals in 2003 but lost to Australia. Sri Lanka became champion in 1996 by beating Australia and reached the finals in 2007 where they also lost to Australia.
First time in the history of Cricket World Cup, two Asian teams reached the finals. Apart from reaching the finals, India and Sri Lanka also hosted this mega-event and it is also first time in the history when host and co-host will play each other in the finals. This is going to be a great finale. Asian team reaching the finals of World Cup also shows that how much Asia dominates the World Cricket.

Talking about teams lets have a look at the journey of these teams in this edition of the World Cup.

India: India defeated Bangladesh, Netherlands, Ireland and West Indies. India tied with England and lost to South Africa in league stage and finished 2nd in its group. India defeated Australia in quarter-finals and arch-rival Pakistan in semi-finals.
Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka defeated Canada, Kenya, Zimbabwe and New Zealand. The lost to Pakistan and match against Australia washed out mid-way due to rain. Hence they ended up 2nd in their group in league stage. They defeated England in quarter-finals and New Zealand in semi-finals.
So tomorrow’s final is going to be a thriller looking at strengths of both the teams. Cricket pundits consider Sri Lanka as favourites in tomorrow’s match but Indian team is also upbeat after their victories over two strongest teams in quarter-final and semi-final. Sri Lanka did not face much trouble in quarters and semis and earned relatively easy victories while India won after grueling battle. India also played better teams in quarters and semis compare to Lankans. So, they passed through litmus test already and ready for any kind of situation while Lankans have to prepare themselves for the big occasion. Strength of both the team is their batting and both teams heavily rely on their top 4 batsmen for runs.

Indian batting has done well in the tournament and so is Sri Lanka. 6 batsmen are in top 10 from these two teams with Tendulkar leading the pack of batsmen in terms of runs. If we talk about Indian batting all their batsmen except captain Dhoni are among the runs and batting looks good. Tendulkar and Sehwag have provided very good starts to Team India in most of the matches and they played pivotal role in the success of Team India. Yuvraj is the star of the tournament for India because of his all-round display with bat and ball. He has already bagged four ‘Man of the Match’ award in the tournament so far, more than any other player and he is key for India’s success in the finals. Indian bowling looked vulnerable in this tournament but since quarter-finals, bowling came good and bowlers performed superbly for India. Indian fielding also improved tremendously since quarter-finals and every player is putting his heart and soul in saving runs and grabbing catches. India has all the ingredients to become ‘World Champion’ looking at their performance in the tournament. India also remember their defeat against Sri Lanka in semi-finals of 1996 World Cup and they will definitely try to take revenge of that loss. So Indian team is ready and raring to go. It’s a golden chance for Team India to win the title this time round. They will be playing in their home conditions and World Cup Trophy will be perfect farewell gift for legendary Tendulkar. Remember Tendulkar was ball boy in 1987 World Cup final and 24 years later he is playing in the team like a champion and winning World Cup will be a greatest tribute to this genius.

Lankan openers Dilshan and Tharanga are the most successful opening pair in this World Cup they are topping the charts in terms of first wicket partnership. Lankans also have great strength in their middle-order as Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Samarweera and Chamara Silva are capable enough to score big runs. One can easily estimate the strength of Lankan top-order from the fact that their lower middle-order did not batted in most of the matches of the tournament. Lankan bowling has come good on most occasions and they never looked vulnerable in any match except against Pakistan where Malinga did not play. After the return of Malinga their bowling looks great and ‘M’ factor haunted opposition badly in this tournament. Malinga, Muralitharan, Mendis and Mathews has given great look to their bowling line-up. Like Tendulkar, Muralitharan is also playing his last World Cup and Lankan team definitely wants to win the trophy for the sake of legend Murali. This is last time, when we see two fiercely competitive players playing against each other and it will going to be a treat to watch both Tendulkar and Murali playing against each other in International cricket. Both are on top of their game at the moment and this one battle will provide lot of excitement for sure.

Injury to its key players is a big worry for both the teams. Sri Lanka is far more affected because of the injuries than India because their star bowler Murali and all-rounder Mathews are injured and doubtful for the match. Lankans already called up Vaas and Randiv as their back-up. As far as Murali is concern, he is very competitive and he will surely play even if he will be 50% fit as this is going to be his last International game and he will definitely wants to leave the cricket on high note. Indians have little less problem compare to Lanka as Nehra is injured and he featured in few matches in this tournament and his absence will not going to affect much because India have enough replacement. Sreesanth and Ashwin can easily replace Nehra, so injury is not going to be a big worry for India.

Great game in offering tomorrow, as both the teams are equal in terms of resources and whichever team will play better cricket will win the contest and trophy as well.

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