Friday, April 1, 2011

World Cup 2011 .... India vs Sri Lanka - Finals preview !!!

So India face Sri Lanka in the finals of the ICC World Cup 2011 at the Wankhade Stadium, Mumbai on Saturday, ie 2nd April, 2011.

With the whole of India & Sri Lanka is going berserk evaluating, analysing, predicting & praying, here are some interesting trivia for my readers :
  • It is going to be a contest between the highest run getter in the history of international cricket, Sachin Tendulkar, for India versus the highest wicket taker in the history of international cricket, Muttiah Muralitharan, for Sri Lanka. 
  • For the first time in the history of World Cup finals, the two rival captains are wicketkeepers, Mahendra Singh Dhoni for India versus Kumara Sangakkara for Sri Lanka.
  • Both the teams have qualified for the finals of the World Cup 3 times till now, winning once & losing once. Both won the first time they entered the finals & lost the second time. Both incidentally lost to Australia. India won in 1983 & lost in 2003, while Sri Lanka won in 1996 & lost in 2007. This match will decide who goes ahead in statistics.
  • For the first time in the history of the World Cup, the two finalists are from the Sub Continent. This goes a long way to establish the growing strength of cricket in the subcontinent.
  • No team hosting the World Cup has ever won the Cup. The closest was Sri Lanka when they won the finals against Australia in 1996, at Lahore, Pakistan. Sri Lanka was the co host that time along with India & Pakistan.
  • Both India & Sri Lanka are the co hosts for this edition of the World Cup along with Bangladesh. This is the first time ever, that the two finalists are also the co hosts.
  • India will achieve No 1 status in ODI rankings, if they win the World Cup. They already enjoy the No 1 status in Test Team rankings.
  • In World Cup encounters between them till date, India has won twice, while Sri Lanka has won four times. The last contest in World Cup at Port of Spain, West Indies in 2007 was won by Sri Lanka, when they thrashed India by 69 runs.
  • The last encounter between India & Sri Lanka in a ODI was on 28th Aug'10 at Dambulla, where Dilshan tore the Indian bowling with a century, & Sri Lanka won by 74 runs.
  • Dilshan is the leading run scorer in this edition of the World Cup till now with 467 runs. Sachin follows him with 464.
  • Afridi is the leading wicket taker till now in the tournament with 21 wickets. Zaheer with 18 wickets has the chance to overtake Afridi in the finals.
  • According to Rajanikanth, if India plays the following players & in the following order, they will win the World Cup - virendeR sehwag, sachin tendulkAr, yuvraJ singh, gautAm gambhir, yusuf pathaN, ms dhonI, virat Kohli, harbhAjan singh, zaheer khaN, s sreesanTh, r asHwin.

Frankly, it is probably & arguably the best two teams which have reached the finals, & the match ahead promises to be a fabulous one. Both the team have enough match winners on their own rights. Both the teams are hungry for a grand finale & would put in all they have to cross the line.
Indians have better batters, as they bat very deep, while Lankans rely too much on their top four to deliver. Their middle order has looked dodgy & could be a concern if put to test. With Angelo Mathews, ruled out due to injury, the middle order would be heavily dependent on Mahela, Chamara Silva & Samaraweera. Indians on the other hand have far too fire power in batting to put up a fighting total or chase one.
In bowling the Lankans on paper have an edge, with Malinga, Murali, & Mendis, but Murali with injury might be struggling & replacement Randiv would be a gamble. They would seriously miss the services of Angela Mathews. Indians, however look better balanced now with Zaheer delivering at the top & Munaf, Nehra, Ashwin & Bhajji restricting well. Nehra may have to sit out due to injury, but then there is enough back up within the team.
In fielding, Indians have been doing rather well in the knockout stages, which is exceptional, but the Lankans are a solid fielding side.
I personally feel, the Lankans would win the toss & elect to bat, wanting to put up a total in excess of 280 & then attack the Indian batting. Dhoni too would prefer to bat first, I believe. If the team batting first scores anything above 275-280, it would well be a winning total. So the batsmen will have to come to the party & someone will have to take the responsibility & play a long innings. A Sachin or a Sehwag or a Yuvi for India as opposed to a Dilshan or a Sanga or a Mahela for the Lankans......each one of them have enough capability to win the match & become a super hero.
Thousands of years ago, as written in the mythological Ramayana, Lord Ram travelled to Lanka to fight & defeat Ravana & win back Sita. Now Sangakkara travels to India to win the World Cup ---- we hope not!!!!!
 We all wait to see which shade of Blue prevails, as both the teams are Men in Blue !!!

My prediction would be 52 : 48, slightly tilted towards Sri Lanka. However, like a billion plus Indian fan, I would love to dream that India wins the Cup.....