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Cricket World Cup Final 2011: India V Sri Lanka: An All Asian Affair

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One more great innings from Tharanga could see Sri Lanka crowned World ChampionsSo after a gruelling month and half we’ve finally reached the climax of the 2011 Cricket World Cup. On the most part we’ve been proved right. As expected, the sub-continent nations have out performed the other main international sides and two of them, India and Sri Lanka, will face off on Saturday in Mumbai, with India looking to become only the second host nation ever to win the tournament.

History would appear to be on Sri Lanka’s side, as they are the only country to win the trophy on home soil. Kumar Sangakkara and his men will be aiming to repeat the triumph of 1996. Either way, there will be records made come Saturday night.

The only surviving player from the final of 1996 is the soon to retire Muttiah Muralitharan, who’s amazing, yet highly controversial career has spanned nearly two decades and includes over 1200 International wickets, a remarkable achievement. He’ll be looking to bow out with a match winning performance, just as he managed to do in his last Test in Galle last year. It would be fitting for him to end on a high in Mumbai this weekend.

With three of the four semi-finalists being the three main Asian cricketing nations, one would be forgiven for assuming that the conditions suited them above all others. This is, to a certain extent true; however, as we have seen throughout the tournament, regardless of conditions, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have played the highest quality cricket on show.

India, lead by the master craftsman, Sachin Tendulkar (one could be forgiven for mistaking him for God) have cruised to the final without much trouble. The same could be said of their opponents Sri Lanka, who overcame England and New Zealand with relative ease in the knockout stages. The slow, low, subcontinent pitches, added to the home support, have suited both teams right down to the bone. Both sides have asked a huge amount of their spinners this time round, with opposition teams finding it hard to get the likes of Harbhajan, Murali and Mendis away at anything near a decent rate. It’s almost certain that the very same tactics will be employed in the final.

It’s not only the bowlers that have stood out. Tendulkar has looked in imperious form for India, especially when it matters the most. If there’s one thing Sri Lanka must do on Saturday, it’s remove him from the equation early on. The wild, Indian crowd will be a key factor come the weekend and the on/off switch that so often coincides with Sachin’s arrival and departure from the crease, plays a big part in the momentum of any Indian batting effort. If Sri Lanka dismiss Tendulkar and Sehwag early, cracks could begin to appear rapidly in the Indian team who certainly aren’t known for winning the big game in front of their own crowd.

We mustn’t discount Sri Lanka’s batters either. Openers Dilshan and Tharanga have both had storming campaigns including two stands of over two hundred runs. Their dominant display in the quarter final, in which they both scored centuries, made England look like boys playing against men. Skipper Sangakkara will be hoping his two opening batsmen will make it easy for his side again. A rocketing start to the match from these two could be as effective at quieting the Indian crowd as the negation of the Tendulkar factor. Sri Lanka will certainly be looking for some sort of spark when the game kicks off and putting India on the back foot early could leave no way back for the favourites. Bowling second on a turning, dying pitch could play right into the hands of Murali and Mendis and the Indian middle order could find it seriously challenging facing bowling that’s spinning both ways, especially if it’s under lights.

We are in for a rollercoaster ride of a final that could easily become the most enthralling game of the so far, disappointing tournament, and there’s definitely no obvious winner in this one. Personally, I’m backing Sri Lanka to bat first and bring the spin twins into the game in the second innings, We’ll see on Saturday.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Fahim Ali

    April 1, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    I’d argue about whether the tournament is disappointing. Seems to have been pretty good so far, not a classic exactly, but a good tournament. Seems to have lasted too long, especially the group stages, but the quality of the matches has generally been good.

    England produced thrillers in every game bar Sri Lanka, Pakistan put up their usual, phenomenally entertaining Jekyll and Hyde show, while South Africa, Sri Lanka and India were ruthlessly efficient, yet entertaining. Crackers like the 338 tie, Ireland and Bangladesh’s wins over England, Pakistan beating Australia, South Africa collapsing against England, India collapsing against South Africa were all entertaining matches, certainly far better than the last world cup.

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