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Can Dhoni's men emulate Kapil's Devils? Final : India vs Sri Lanka

Venue : Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai | Saturday 2 April, 14:30 PM










India's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, left, and Sri Lanka's captain Kumar Sangakkara pose for a photograph with the Cricket World Cup trophy in Mumbai, Friday, April 1. India will play Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup final in Mumbai on April 2. (AP Photo)

MUMBAI, APRIL 1(THE HINDU): The images linger. Kapil Dev, light on feet and brave of heart, plucked a sensational catch at deep mid-wicket to end a rampant Vivian Richards's tenure in the 1983 World Cup final at Lord's. You can freeze the frame. Now, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's powerful team is just one match away from reclaiming the Cup of Joy. The host faces a formidable rival in the summit clash — the first between two sub-continental teams — of the ICC World Cup in Mumbai on a Super Saturday. Will another moment of inspiration decide this final? Kumar Sangakkara, another wicketkeeper-batsman, leads a versatile Sri Lankan side of belief and ability. With a gilt-edged opportunity to make history as the first side to win the World Cup on home

soil, India cannot afford any slip up. Here, let's look at the protagonists and the conditions that could influence the contest.

impossible to spot the shiny side. The speedy slinger with a quick-arm action will be a distinct threat, particularly in the later stages of the innings.



The Indian batting is strong and in this context, the pace, precision and swing of Lasith Malinga could hold the key. Malinga's unique sling action — his right arm is parallel to the ground at the point of release — makes it hard for the batsmen to pick him. In reverse swing, the ball moves towards the shiny side and batsmen watch the hand carefully to read movement. This is easier when someone has a conventional action. In Malinga's case though, one half of the ball is covered by his palm and fingers while the other faces the ground. For the batsman, it is almost

Sri Lanka will be without influential all-rounder Angelo Mathews in this high-pressure game. Mathews, nursing a quadriceps injury, has been replaced in the squad by off-spinner Suraj Randiv. All-rounder Thisara Perera, already a part of the team, might come in for Mathews. The lanky Randiv, who has troubled the Indians in the past, could be in as the second spinner.

Arabian Sea could assist swing. The Indian think-tank appeared veering towards playing three seamers in the final. Ashish Nehra is out with a fractured finger and Santhakumaran Sreesanth could take his place. If the ball swings, Sreesanth will be in the business. R. Ashwin has bowled capably but the Indians are aware that the Sri Lankans are fine players of off-spin and are familiar with the carrom ball.


This is a surface where the team winning the toss has to back itself to survive a period of early assistance to the pacemen and put runs on the board. A total in excess of 250 might, indeed, be challenging. The pitch THE CONDITIONS There should be fair carry and does become slower in the second some seam movement for the pace- half and the fielding side has an opmen here. And the breeze from the portunity to apply pressure. An im-

India's Virender Sehwag, left, talks to team coach Gary Kirsten in the nets during a training session ahead of Saturday's Cricket World Cup final match between India and Sri Lanka in Mumbai, Friday, April 1. (AP Photo)

proved Harbhajan Singh could be a SEHWAG, YUVRAJ factor on this track. AND RAINA Sehwag (380 runs at 54.28, strike ZAHEER AND rate 123.37) has a liking for the Sri Lankan bowling. He relishes the big stage too. LANKAN TOP-THREE Openers, Tillakaratne Dilshan Much like Sehwag, Yuvraj (341 runs at (467 runs at 66.71), Upul Tharanga 85.25) can swing games. The left-hand(393 at 65.50) and No. 3 Sangakkara er has applied himself in pressure situ(417 runs at 104.25) have batted with ations, been judicious with his strokean amalgam of flair and solidity. But play. When Yuvraj arrives, Sangakkara then, India's Zaheer Khan (19 wickets could bring on Muralitharan. at 17.57) could nail Dilshan, who has a tendency to shuffle across, with the SURESH RAINA AND THE one that comes in. The crafty left-arm BATTING POWER PLAY Raina has been calm and collectpaceman might probe the left-handed Tharanga and Sangakkara too with ed, gathered runs with timing and his ability to straighten or move the placements. He has made a differsphere away from them. With the ence. With him around, India has not gifted Mahela Jayawardene not in the imploded in the batting Power Plays. best of touch, the Sri Lankan middle- This time around, the left-hander order could struggle if India makes could be up against Malinga during this crucial phase. early inroads.

Two legends but only one happy ending


HE Mumbai final will be the last time we see Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralitharan on the World Cup stage. One will be the victor and one the loser, but both will be remembered as greats no matter the result. This World Cup will be the last for Muralitharan, Tendulkar, Jacques Kallis and Ricky Ponting - four of the greatest to play the format, and it would be remiss not to write about their careers. Tendulkar is considered the best and most reliable batsman outside Donald Bradman. His technique is flawless and his appetite for scoring runs incredible. From playing against Sachin I will have everlasting memories of a vertical MRF sticker being presented on impact with the ball. I remember the feeling of, "This man is toying with me." I remember the sheer excitement when I was lucky enough to

India's best in WC is yet to come, Dhoni warns Sri Lanka


MUMBAI, APRIL 1 (PTI): Pacer S Sreesanth may be brought into the Indian team in place of injured Ashish Nehra for the summit clash against Sri Lanka in the cricket World Cup final on Saturday. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni also issued a veiled warning to the Sri Lankans saying the home team has not played to its fullest potential and "there is plenty to come" and was prepared to take on veteran spinner Muttiah Muralitharan. With swing bowler Ashish Nehra virtually ruled out of the grand finale due to a multiple finger fracture he suffered in the semifinal clash against Pakistan, Dhoni appeared to indicate his preference in the toss up between S Sreesanth and off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. "Ashish is most likely ruled out as he's got multiple fracture on one of his fingers," he said adding that the choice could be between Sreesanth and Ashwin. "If you see the Mumbai track there's a bit of pace and bounce for the seamers initially and there is a bit of reverse swing going. The third seamer can have an impact on the game. An extra seamer means I am able to manoeuvre the bowlers," the

skipper said at the pre-match press conference. The skipper, who had surprised everyone by keeping Ashwin out of the Mohali encounter after his good performance in two matches said, "With a spinner, if you have three spinners along with a part-timer you don't have room for manoeuvre. But whatever opportunity Ashwin has got, irrespective of where he has fared, he has done really well," dhoni said. "We have confidence in him but we are not clear about whether to go with three seamers or two seamers and one extra spinner," he said. Sreesanth had not played after the tournament opener on February 19 against Bangladesh at Mirpur, and asked how he can slip into his groove after such a lengthy absence from the middle. Dhoni said it can be done if one looked at Saturday's final as just another game. "Don't look at it as the final but as another game. Sree has done well for us most of the games he has played. He's one player who can definitely swing the ball and get you early wickets. Choosing one individual over other is difficult but let's hope whoever gets chosen will perform at his best," he said.

dismiss him. His presence when walking out to bat was daunting but his level-headedness and ability to take it all in his stride were amazing. Muralitharan is statistically the greatest bowler to play the game. Many have and many will continue to question the legitimacy of his bowling action but I am unmoved. I was never lucky (or unlucky) enough to face his bowling, but having spoken to many batsmen, they would say things such as, "The doosra looks the same," and, "I don't know which way it is spinning." He changed off-spin bowling into an art of deception, and has inspired many in his country and around the world to emulate him. Kallis is an all-rounder of the highest quality. His record ranks him alongside Garfield Sobers, except, he has done it in one-day cricket as well as the Test arena. On his day, Kallis bowled a heavy ball with a nasty bouncer. It was quicker and skidded and had batsmen, including myself, ducking and weaving to avoid being hit. With the bat he was the rock on which South Africa built their game. He made you bowl to him and was never tempted to play outside his game. Many a bowler questioned themselves as to whether his bat was the legitimate width, but if he had a stump in his hands the result would have been the same. He is an all-rounder of the highest order, who

could bat in the top three but also take the new ball if required. Ponting was a fine leader who led by actions rather than words. When a tough situation presented itself he was always the first man in and he empowered others to follow. His batting was flamboyant and his trademark pull shot second to none. Many years ago, I remember playing him at the SCG in a Sheffield Shield match. Young bowlers always want to assert their authority over batsmen with good short-pitched bowling, but as the midwicket fielder continued jogging to the fence to retrieve an ageing ball, I soon realised Ponting was not a man to be intimidated. He is a man of grit, determination and self-belief, and one who will always be remembered as a fine leader of his country. This final is the end of an era in many ways, and though it will be played in front of only 50,000 people in Mumbai, it will be beamed into millions of television sets around India and Sri Lanka. Two men will attempt to go out as World Cup winners, and two countries will stop to watch. My money is on Sri Lanka to cause an upset. Source: Sydney Morning Herald

Hope India wins cricket WC: PM

NEW DELHI, APRIL 1 (PTI): Sending his best wishes to the Indian cricket team for their World Cup final match against Sri Lanka, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday hoped that the `Men in Blue` win the trophy. "Keep it up is all I would say. I hope India wins," Singh said when asked about his message to the Indian cricket team. Singh, however, will not be travelling to Mumbai to watch India play Sri Lanka on Saturday. "I will be in Assam then," he told reporters on the sidelines of the Padma awards function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here. "The whole nation joins in wishing the Indian cricket team," he said adding that he would be watching the game as he gets time. Singh had invited Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to watch the World Cup semi-final at Mohali where India defeated Indian artists paint and create a replica of the World Cup trophy on the Pakistan by 29 runs to set up head of a cricket fan, ahead of the ICC World Cup cricket final match be- the title clash with Sri Lanka. President Pratibha Patil and tween India and Sri Lanka, in Mumbai on April 1. (AP Photo)

Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa will be in Mumbai to watch the World Cup final. Meanwhile, Congress President Sonia Gandhi also wished the Indian cricket team the "best" and expressed hope that they would lift the World Cup. Gandhi, who was campaigning at Neelam Bazar in Karimganj district, congratulated the Indian cricket team for winning the semi-final tie at Mohali. "I congratulate the In-

dian team for winning the semifinal at Mohali and wish them the best for the final," Gandhi said. "We hope they win and bring the World Cup for us. I wish them all the best," she added. The UPA Chairperson and her son Rahul Gandhi had watched the semi-final match at Mohali on March 30 where India beat Pakistan to enter the final of the World Cup. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh were cohosts of the sporting event.

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HEAD-TO-HEAD 67 50 17 WON BY INDIA WON BY SRI LANKA TIE / NR / ABANDON Venue : Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai | Saturday 2 April, 14:30 PM proved...