Saturday, April 2, 2011

The World Cup Final - May The Best Team Win

The India versus Sri Lanka final seems heavily loaded in favour of the hosts. Not only do we have a very strong batting line up but an experienced one as well. If there is a chink, it is that it is likely to fall in a heap in tough moments. The bowling is highly experienced too. However there is not much variety and it does not seem  like it has settled down yet. The only one who has looked consistently good and dangerous is Zaheer Khan which is precisely why one must write off Zaheer for this match and look at other options. Only when the others do well can Zaheer be effective in the final because the opponents will have a plan to tackle him. Like Umar Gul, he must not feel the pressure of the responsibility of the bowling spearhead. So I would spare him and tell him that he is okay and he can do what he does normally and the others will do their bit. Munaf will plan, Harbhajan and Ashwin will play ad Yuvraj will likely make up the other option. A bit thin but I'd rather go with this than have Sreesanth. The fielding is still patchy and nothing can be done about it - hold your catches and give it your all will be the motto.

The Sri Lankans batting looked very brittle against New Zealand which makes them suspect if they bat second.. In fact I think whichever team bats second will have a tough time if they are chasing 270 plus. India, because it somehow has this habit of collapsing in a heap for inexplicable reasons and also because the Lankan fielding side and bowling sides are good. One brilliant catch, an unplayable delivery and a few tight overs and the match can turn on its head. For Lanka, batting second will always be a nightmare because they do not seem to have the  appetite for it - after the first four - I would actually bring it to the first three Dilshan, Mahela Jayawardene and Sangakarra (Tharanga still has not shown his appetite for the big matches). Lanka could well bat themselves out if India holds its chances without doing anything extraordinary. Something like the Pakistan match where the batting did more than the bowling to get out.

But then this is not about the teams on paper. India has had enough preparation, experience and all things pointing in its favour. But it cannot sit back and hope for things to fall in place which it could very well do. It will have to make things happen. India has to attack, seize the initiative and win the cup. Because Sri Lanka
will not give it easily. And the same goes for Sri Lanka which will have to play attacking cricket to win this match. Whichever team does that extra bit, cameos, lightning knocks, short and effective bowling spells, inspired fielding and some sensational catching - only that team will win. The one that has more bruises, more sweat should win this game. This is not for the waiter. this is for the one who can attack and prise the Cup from the other.

Both teams have that capability and it remains how they go about it. I would like Sachin to go hammer and tongs along with Sehwag and forget about that hundredth hundred for the time being. It is a typical choice the devil gives - glory of hundredth hundred in a World Cup final or just go and play on like the devil for the team's cause without another thought. Sachin can still destroy the opponent bowling and he, if anyone can, has the capability to pile on that initial pressure from which Lanka will find it difficult to recover. For me it is always that audacious quickfire 50, 60 that Sachin scores that sets the momentum for a big win for India because then the others seem to regroup well around him. Anyway, my bet is on the  team that bats first!

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