M A I N   N E W S

India, Sri Lanka chase history
The winner will become the first side from Asia to claim the World cup trophy twice
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, April 1
This is it. This is the only match of the World Cup that actually will be remembered. With all the song and dance about the India-Pakistan match over, it is now time for the real thing as two sides, geographically close enough to be one landmass, will try to grab the distinction of being the first side from the region to claim the trophy twice.

The Wankhede Stadium here, for better or for worse, will be witness to this contest from 2.30 p.m. tomorrow, a match that will also script the end of the career of one of the greatest names of the game.

Muttiah Muralitharan will be signing off from the game and his side and the country wish, it will be with a flourish. There was also some talk about Sachin Tendulkar calling it quits after this, but that would depend on a few things. That is the publicised bit. There will surely be quite a few others who won’t be seen on the World Cup stage again, and while they themselves haven’t committed so, they know it. So it will be a collection of unsung swansongs that will make this one a collectors’ item.

One more thing is for sure. This won’t be a walkover that the Pakistan game was. While everyone seems to be pretty convinced that Pakistan played India close, the truth of the matter is that they had lost in the first innings. Here, the situation is completely different. Instead of a funny Shahid Afridi, who loses his humour in seconds, we have a wry Kumar Sangakkara, who doesn’t get flustered. This calmness filters down to the side which takes to adulation and pressure with remarkable equanimity and comfort. On the other side are the superstars.

Champions all, though not always coming good with their wares. The frenzy surrounding them is immense, irrespective of who they play and even now everyone is losing it, trying to keep pace with the demands of being the true fan. So that is the stage for a game which will see lots of skill and possibly killing techniques using a scalpel rather than a sledgehammer. The likes of Virender Sehwag may well delight, but it will be the ones who have the patience and skill to negotiate a season-end track who will succeed. M.S. Dhoni also keeps his wits around him and he and Sangakkara are both walking the cool side.

“The pitch will have some pace and bounce, and isn’t likely to deteriorate too much over the two innings,” Dhoni says. “Any pressure on the team batting second will be the pressure of runs.” Sangakkara has his own take. “The pitches back home are harder to negotiate. This one here is likely to hold for the duration.” This, about a track that could well give the bowlers a lot to work with. Pace and bounce, as the skippers agree. But the reducing bounce and some assistance for the spinners is something neither is willing to concede. But vitally, neither discounts that.

On the contrary, that is something surely playing on the Captain Cools’ minds. So win toss and bat first is the most likely formula.

It makes sense in any case, since the side chasing is exactly that — chasing, in every manner possible.

Chasing physically and mentally, with everything to lose. Team selections are also interesting aspects. Neither skipper wants to commit the spinners to the fray yet, yet both are definitely thinking about that.

As for the stars, as Dhoni would put it aptly, Sachin Tendulkar has nothing to prove. But Tendulkar will want his hundred here, but that hasn’t always worked to India’s benefit.

Dhoni would rather have the trophy and afford a pass to records and statistics. India is torn however.

Tendulkar’s 100th century or the elusive World Cup. Wouldn’t it be good to get both?

On way to the final

  • SL lost to Pak
  • beat Canada by 210 runs
  • defeated Kenya by 9 wickets
  • beat Zimbabwe by 139 runs
  • beat England by 10 wickets and won the match against NZ by 112 runs
  • match against Australia washed out.


  • INDIA beat Bangladesh by 87 runs
  • West Indies by 80 runs
  • Ireland by 5 wickets
  • Netherland by 5 wickets
  • tied with England
  • lost to South Africa by 3 wickets
  • beat Australia by 5 wickets and
  • beat Pakistan in the semi-final by 29 runs



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