Sri Lanka will not be as kind as Pakistan

Last Updated: Sat, Apr 02, 2011 04:12 hrs

I'm glad to see India and Sri Lanka in the final because they are deserving finalists. They've both played good cricket to reach this far and I expect a good final. To be honest, I believed South Africa had a very good chance of winning but they were knocked out earlier.

Sri Lanka will certainly not be pushovers. They're a very good side led by a smart leader. Kumar Sangakkara doesn't have an easy job, given that he has to keep wickets, marshal his players and score lots of runs for the team. Handling Muttiah Muralitharan isn't an easy job but Sangakkara has done so admirably.

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In the semi-final at Mohali, Pakistan let India off the hook a few times but don't expect Sri Lanka to be so kind. They don't offer anything in the field or with the ball and so India will have to play exceptionally well to win. India cannot afford to be as shaky as they were against Pakistan. Sri Lanka have an exceptional top four and India will need to get into the middle order as soon as possible to increase their chances of winning.

While Sri Lanka's bowling isn't one of the most dynamic in the tournament, it is certainly better than India's. In Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga they have two very crucial bowlers, different in styles and experience let equally lethal. Murali has played a lot of cricket against India so you can expect him to come at them hard, while as always Malinga with be dangerous with his slinging yorkers and changes of pace.

The only reliable bowler India have is Zaheer Khan. He has been excellent all tournament, whether with the new ball or in the middle when the ball is changed or at the death. Zaheer has been consistent with his line and length and that has fetched him wickets in each match. He's not grabbed a big haul of wickets in any game but he has been consistent.

From what I hear, Sri Lanka may not go in with three spinners as they did in the quarter-finals and semi-finals because of India's batting strength against spin. There is some talk of dropping Ajantha Mendis and reinforcing the attack with pace. Similarly, I think India will go in with three fast bowlers based purely on the outcome of the last match.

MS Dhoni admitted after the Mohali match that he had misread the pitch there, but as it worked out Ashish Nehra did his job very well. He didn't get a lot of wickets but crucially he controlled the run flow and finished with very good figures of 2 for 33 from his quota.

Nehra is under an injury cloud, so that's not good news for India. Judging by how the wicket at the Wankhede Stadium is, there should be a recall for R Ashwin who has done quite well sharing the new ball, but three pacers is how I would go in.

I know India haven't done well in tournament finals (16 lost finals since 2000) and especially against Sri Lanka (lost seven of nine completed finals since 2000) but on the day, I don't think too many players read into stats and figures from the past.

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You can argue that Sri Lanka have a psychological edge when it comes to finals but you won't see players thinking 'oh hell, we've lost seven times to these guys in finals'. I think journalists dwell more on such stuff than the public and players. These are two teams with a lot of experienced players who will be focused solely on performing in the middle, not thinking about the past.

Two of them will be Sachin Tendulkar and Muralitharan. Tendulkar has been playing under pressure his entire career, so tomorrow won't be any different. Of course, to score his 100th international century and lift the World Cup at his home city would be terrific. On the other side, you can expect Muralitharan to call on all his experience as he looks to win Sri Lanka a second World Cup in his final international appearance.

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