The final of the 2011 Cricket World Cup takes place on Saturday in Mumbai when hosts India face neighbours Sri Lanka in a clash between two in-form sides hoping for the ultimate glory.>
Both sides have impressed during the tournament, particularly with the bat, with Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan outstanding for Sri Lanka, while Tendulkar along with Yuvraj Singh have led the way for India.
Will runs on the cards, it promises to be an entertaining final in Mumbai, but both sides have their injury concerns with Ashish Nehra and Angelo Mathews both to miss out.
It’s another factor in what is already a highly anticipated final as India hope end almost 30 years of waiting to win a World Cup.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka (1996 champions) look to confirm their status as a genuine top-class cricket nation.
There’s plenty of the line, but who will be victorious?
*Sri Lanka’ Group performance2nd in Group A, 4 wins, 1 loss, 1 no result*Group Results’
Sri Lanka 332/7, Canada 122, Sri Lanka won by 210 runs Pakistan 277/7, Sri Lanka 266/9, Pakistan won by 11 runs Kenya 142, Sri Lanka 146/1, Sri Lanka won by 9 wickets Sri Lanka 146/3, Australia DNB, match abandoned, no result Sri Lanka 327/6, Zimbabwe 188, Sri Lanka won by 139 runs Sri Lanka 265/9, New Zealand 153, Sri Lanka won by 112 runs Quarter Final England 229/6, Sri Lanka 231/0, Sri Lanka won by 10 wickets Semi Final New Zealand 217, Sri Lanka 220/5, Sri Lanka won by 5 wickets The Black Caps failed to convince with the bat with only Scott Styris posting a half-century, as Sri Lanka slow bowlers did the trick with Ajantha Mendis picking up 3/35. The run chase wasn’t entirely comfortable but good knocks from reliable pair Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara guided them to victory before the middle order finished off the job with 13 balls to spare.
Statistics Most runs; Tillakaratne Dilshan (467), Kumar Sangakkara (417), Upul Tharanga (393) Best batting average; Kumar Sangakkara (83.4), Tillakaratne Dilshan (66.71), Upul Tharanga (65.5) Most wickets; Muttiah Muralitharan (15), Lasith Malinga (11), Tillakaratne Dilshan & Ajantha Mendis (7)
The Good Sri Lanka’s batting has been superb, but their top order has been exceptional, particularly Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga while skipper Kumar Sangakkara has been hard to remove at first drop.
Sri Lanka’s slow attack has caused opposition sides plenty of headaches this tournament. Everyone knows the threat Muttiah Muralitharan possesses and while he hasn’t taken too many wickets, it’s Sri Lanka economy which is a key. Only Pakistan has scored more than 230 against them at the 2011 World Cup in what was Sri Lanka’s only defeat.
Lasith Malinga has been erratic at times for Sri Lanka and while he’s a wicket-taker there’s few around him if he’s not firing. If Sri Lanka need wickets they may not have the answers, but Ajantha Mendis did pop up with a few handy dismissals in the semi-final.
The Captain Sangakkara said: “It [winning the World Cup] means everything. We have come through a very tough period. A lot of people have laid down lives for our country. In this new future, hopefully we can take home the World Cup, and that will be even more occasion for celebration.”
He added: “The inspiration has always been there since they [the 1996 team] won. Everything that has come after is because that was a big factor. For us, 1996 is that particular year that belongs to that particular team. Since then there have been other teams trying to forge their own path and leave their own legacy for Sri Lankan cricket. Sri Lanka has kicked on from that, achieved great heights in cricket. A World Cup is a World Cup, be it 1996 or 2011.”
Sangakkara concluded: “World Cups bring out the best in players, sometimes the worst. I think, for us, tomorrow is going to be about controlled aggression. Not being too emotional about anything, trying to be clinical, trying to stay grounded, and in the moment. Take things as they come. You can plan and strategise as much as possible, but things can change out there in the middle. Be fluid, and do what we know we can do.”
*India’ Group performance2nd in Group B, 4 wins, 1 loss, 1 tie*Group Results’
India 370/4, Bangladesh 283/9, India won by 87 runs India 338, England 338/8, match tied Ireland 207, India 210/5, India won by 5 wickets Netherlands 189, India 191/5, India won by 5 wickets India 296, South Africa 300/7, South Africa won by 3 wickets India 268, West Indies 188, India won by 80 runs Quarter Final Australia 260/6, India 261/5, India won by 5 wickets Semi Final India 260/9, Pakistan 231, India won by 29 runs Sachin Tendulkar was the key again for India making 85 as others got starts but fell around him. India posting 260 was always going to be a challenge for Pakistan, who’s bowlers are stronger than their batters. India shared around the wickets as they bowled out Pakistan for 231 from 49.5 overs, with Ashish Nehra (2/33) and Munaf Patel (2/40) most impressive.
Statistics Most runs; Sachin Tendulkar (464), Virender Sehwag (380), Yuvraj Singh (341) Best batting average; Yuvraj Singh (85.25), Sachin Tendulkar (58), Virender Sehwag (54.29) Most wickets; Zaheer Khan (19), Yuvraj Singh (13), Munaf Patel (11)
The Good India’s batting line-up is wonderful with Sachin Tendulkar the main man, averaging 58 with over 450 runs this tournament. He’s been irrepressible and appears hard to stop, delivering for his country in the crucial high-pressure semi-final win over Pakistan. His ability to handle the pressure will be a key.
India’s batting depth doesn’t end there though, with Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir providing runs, while it’s worth noting four different Indian batsmen have scored centuries at the 2011 World Cup and that doesn’t include Gambhir who has managed three fifties.
Zaheer Khan’s wicket-taking has been a cornerstone for India’s success and he has lead the line brilliantly with the ball this tournament. At times he’s lacked support, but he’s constantly delivered for India with 19 wickets this World Cup.
The Bad Beyond Zaheer Khan, India have struggled to find reliable wicket-takers with Harbhajan Singh out of sorts this tournament. Yuvraj Singh has popped up with 11 wickets, while Munaf Patel has found form late in the tournament to suggest he’s a solution, but they need a bit more firepower with the ball.
Skipper MS Dhoni is another who has been out of form at the World Cup, with few runs coming from India’s ice-cool captain. Dhoni is averaging 30 this tournament, but hasn’t posted a half century yet and may not be able to deliver if required.
The Captain Dhoni said: “We know as a team what the hype is, what the expectations are. Of course, we are quite drained after the semi-finals. But the last two days we have utilised as best we could to give our best in the finals.”
“The preparation remains the same, [it’s] just that the opponents change. It is about how you turn up on the field and what you actually do on the field. We know strengths, the weaknesses and what we need to do on the field.”
Dhoni added about India’s World Cup: “Every game was a challenge for us. As soon as we reached the knockout stages, and the teams we played in the quarters and the semis, we had to be at our best. That is what we did. We were not thinking about the result. We were thinking about how we need to prepare ourselves, how we needed to increase the intensity on the field so that we can field better. There is no moment when you are switched off when you are on the field.”