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Friday, April 01, 2011

World Cup 2011 - The D-day is here tomorrow

The D-day after 6 weeks of matches in the 2011 World Cup is tomorrow and everyone is excited about it in India and Sri Lanka. Will it be a repeat of Lords 1983 or Johannesburg 2003 for India? Will it be Lahore 1996 or Bridgetown 2007 for Sri Lanka?

The excitement might not match that of India-Pakistan or India-Australia but the Indians should be careful of not letting their preparation down for this finale. The spirit also would have been much more aggressive in the quarters and semis but in the final, it will be a different ball-game in the final. Therein lies the major problem for both sides, more so for the Indians.

The two teams have played each other so much that they know their opposition by heart. The teams have players who used to play together for last 3 years in IPL - sample this:

With the camaraderie they shared in the dressing room, it is highly unlikely that tempers will rise tomorrow. The public will however like the teams to be charged up to give their best show on the field. Pakistan seemed to be edgy on the field in the semis but Sri Lanka will arrive well-prepared. 

The matches played in Mumbai earlier in the tournament were high-scoring matches but Jayawardene feels that the pitch looked different. Here is an interesting article talking about the curator and how he feels if Sachin spends 30 minutes at the crease, he will score a century.

Ashish Nehra and Angelo Matthews have been ruled out of the final match because of injuries sustained in the semis. Randiv has been called up to replace Matthews even though Perera and Kulasekara were available - does it show the thinking on the Lankan side about the pitch? India, though, are still unsure about Nehra's replacement, as per Dhoni's conference. MSD feels that his team is peaking at the right time and will treat the match as another one, not as a final. This tactic worked in the earlier Knock-out matches and he is sure that it will work again. 

Kapil Dev cautioned the public that Dhoni should not be judged by this final alone but I am sure he will be happy if Dhoni joins his club as a Cup-winning captain. His pedigree so far has been good - captain of winning T20 World Cup team, winner of IPL and Champions League and captain of No.1 test team. Tomorrow, if the team plays as well as it can, the ODI World Cup will join the list. 

Sangakkara though put a spin by saying that he thought that the Indians deserved to be called as the favorites. Is it just mind game at action or any other strategy from the Lankan camp?

There are many mini-battles in the final game where each one will try to outdo the other:
  • Openers - SRT and Sehwag vs Dilshan and Tharanga. The Lankan pair have scored more and frequently but tomorrow iwll be a different ball game. Tharanga has not done well against India - can he repeat his heroics earlier in the Cup?
  • Pace - Malinga vs Zaheer Khan. The strike bowlers with the new ball on both sides have been phenomenal. Both have played in earlier Cup finals and have experienced failure. This is the time they step up to make the extra step.
  • Spin - Harbhajan vs Muralitharan. Murali, on one leg, will be better than any other spinner from Sri Lanka. But, the Indians are those who have picked him better than the others. Harbhajan comes to the final with the confidence of bowling well against Pakistan. Having got Afridi out must have delighted him no end, for his figures have been destroyed many a time by the Pak Pathan.
Of course, this is not to belittle the others like Jayawardene, Sangakkara or Yuvraj Singh but these battles will decide the course the match more than any others.

My prediction - India wins the match but Sachin does not score a century. He will definitely take this at the end of the game, even if he fails with the bat. Castrol Index puts the Lankans ahead - 172-155. Do you agree - I dont think so.

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