Mumbai, April 2: There's a feeling at the back of every Indian fan's mind that it's now or never: India is on the threshold of world domination with just one formidable opponent standing in its way. When
India take on Sri Lankan in the final of the World Cup 2011 at Wankehde Stadium, Mumbai on April 2, the summit clash will mark the culmination of a glowing tournament replete with twists and upsets and dramatic wins and even a tie!
And there would be no perceptably better way for India to wrap up this World Cup than grabbing the coveted trophy with both hands. India's chances are good. They are riding the crest of a wonderful peak in form and they are playing in their backyard with their premeir batsmen in devastating knick. India have shown exceptional verve at overcoming Australia and Pakistan in its road to the final and now have the impteus to pull off one final win.
But one has to recognise that Sri Lanka are far from push-overs and with the inordinate strength of their top-order batting, may just pull off a sensational victory. They have shown that their permier batsmen present a tough obstacle for even the most favoured teams to surmount, a fact driven home in the 10-wicket thrashing they consigned to England in the quarterfinal of the tournament.
Sri Lanka has played four one-dayers at Mumbai's Wankhede stadium, including a league match in this tournament against New Zealand. Out of those four, they have won two and lost two. So there chances of overpowering India here are 50-50.
But Sri Lanka hold a slight edge over India insofar as their batting is concerned. The Lankans' top four batsmen in their line up are collectively averaging around 233 (Tharanga's avg: 65.50 + Dilshan's
avg: 66.42 + Sangakkara's avg: 76.50 + Jayawardene's avg: 25.00), while for India the top quartet jointly notches up an approximate 156 (Tendulkar's avg: 47.12 + Sehwag's avg: 41.42 + Gambhir's avg: 37.00 + Kohli's 30.85).
But then the real juice for India comes in the middle order with Yuvraj averaging a phenomenal 85.25, while Sri Lanka's corresponding section has to still prove their mettle, especially now with Angelo Mathews out of the equation with a muscle strain.
However, India have the upperhand where the bowling figures. Indian spearhead Zaheer Khan is in the form of his life, having taken 19 wickets at a miserly average of 17.57, while Yuvraj has clocked second
with 13 scalps at 25.23 and Munaf comes in a close third with 11 wickets at 26.72.
Muralitharan is the corresponding ace in the Sri Lanka pack with 15 wickets in the tournament so far at an average which trumps Zaheer's at 16..89. But he hasn't received much support from rest of the Lankan attack with just a couple of indfivisual performances from Malinga and Dilshan standing out.
So the die is cast for what promises to be a fantastic game of cricket and one that is closely contested. The World Cup hangs in the balance as each of the finalists strive to realise their dream of capturing the