Friday, April 1, 2011

World Cup Finals - India v Sri Lanka: Does India have the legs for another scrap?

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When asked if an all Asian World Cup finals, suggests a power shift in world cricket, Mahela Jayawardene said,

"We mustn't forget that this is a World Cup on the subcontinent, and obviously home conditions suit us. In fact, it would have been disappointing if Asian teams hadn't made it to the final. The World Cup will be played on a different continent the next time, and we can say the balance of power has truly shifted if two teams from the subcontinent make the final then."

A smart answer from a man who plays for a smart team led by an even smarter and sophisticated Kumar Sangakkara. India's opponents in the finals are a team perfectly capable of beating them comfortably

A preview...

Malinga's toe busting missiles, Murali's enthusiasm, thirst for wickets and his knack of doing something special on farewells, Mendis' carom balls and then the formidable top order batting centered around the most prolific Kumar Sangakkara. What Sri Lanka have to offer can easily spoil India's party. As with the Ashes hangover; both physical and mental; sometimes no amount of intent and discipline can over come an emotional high of coming thorough a tough assignment. And India have come through 2 of the most intense one day matches in recent times.

How they got here
India's path to the finals has been most challenging, They were required to beat the defending champions and a dangerous Pakistan. What made these matches intense pressure games was that India were expected to win these games.

Sri Lanka on the other hand took the scenic route stopping along the way for English picnic lunches and some pictures with the kiwis. You could argue and essentially buy Mahendra Singh Dhoni's argument that India are more prepared for the pressure of the finals than the Lankans but if Sri Lanka get off the blocks early India just may not have any strength left to get in a position to put pressure on the Lankans.

Needless to say, Sri Lanka look to be better positioned to win the finals in my estimation.

How can India win
In the semi finals almost everything that was borderline, fell India's way. That's what it took to win against Pakistan. The win has to some extent masked India's 'yet to explode' middle order; a problem they share with the Lankans; and Sehwag's continuing struggles with the One Day format. Granted, in the scheme of things his spectacular dismantling of Umar Gul was as good as a knock out blow but against Sri Lanka he will have to do a lot more. While he can bat through 50 overs against a side like Bangladesh, Sri Lanka have enough wiles to frustrate him to the point where he gets himself out.

I can see only one way we can win and that is to get ahead early and stay there; whether batting or bowling first and Virendra Sehwag needs to play a marathon innings. Our middle order is too fragile to withstand Malinga and Murali in tandem.

The captains
Captaincy-wise Mahendra Singh Dhoni will meet his match in Kumar Sangakkara. In almost every respect they are quite similar. Sangakkara is all sophistication to Dhoni's cool. Sangakkara is a better batsman, is in form and has been to a World Cup final before. To Dhoni's credit however he hasn't let his form affect his decision making as a captain, and has been to and won a T20 World Cup; as captain. And when you are assessing Mahendra Singh Dhoni you have to consider luck as his core skill. The man's so lucky even Lady luck prays that she has a day like Dhoni's

Cold stats
Numbers wise, India have en edge over Sri Lanka if you focus on matches in India but Sri Lanka have traditionally owned India in World Cup matches. And recently the 2 sides have played each other so many times that the law of large numbers suggest that both sides have a 50% chance of winning.

Ground realities
The first game between the 2 sides at the same ground involved a high scoring game. India posting 299/4 in 40 overs and Roshan Mahanama replying with the innings of his life. Eventually he was run out for 98 and Sri Lanka fell 10 runs short. 

The highest score on this ground is by a Sri Lankan

Since the ground and the stadium has been redone, it is Sri Lanka who have played here before while India will be making their debut

Bottom line
I am skeptical if India can pull off another high pressure game. The mantra should be "win big". The team may just not have enough legs for another scrap

Please see...


Tees Maar Khan said...

Supra saaf analysis !!! I agree 100%. A close call match, it will take every ounce of energy to pull this one off. All the big names have to deliver. Batting first will have a huge edge because of batting second will really test your nerves. A few quick wickets and a mediocre target would loom like a mountain !!! Go India !!!

Anonymous said...

If Only miracle should happen to win this match

Anonymous said...

Dhoni's Bad captaincy cost WORLD CUP