The moment has finally come for which cricket lovers have been desperately waiting for the Grand Finale of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup between India and Sri Lanka. Two giants from the sub-continent would be clashing to win this coveted crown for a second time. India won this cup way back in 1983 while Sri Lanka won it in 1996.
India beat arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-finals while Sri Lanka won their semi-final match against New Zealand. It would be fair to say that the Sri Lankan team has not been tested so far and this might be one aspect that might be on that back of the team. The going has been easy so far for the Lankans who beat England in the quarter-finals.
Having set a target of 231 runs, the Lankans cruised home without losing a wicket. The English were a depleted side without the likes of key players like James Anderson and Kevin Pietersen, both of whom were injured. In the semi-finals, they beat New Zealand rather comfortably in 48 overs with Tillakaratne Dilshan top-scoring with 73 runs. It was a lackluster performance from the Kiwis who had upset favorites South Africa who choked again when the time came to deliver the goods!
India beat reigning champions Australia in the quarter-finals with a good all-around show from players like Yuvraj Singh who excelled both with the bowl and bat. Half-century scores from Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, and Yuvraj saw the team topple Australia to meet Pakistan in the semi-finals.
The semi-final turned out to be a high-pressure match for both the nations in which India comprehensively beat Pakistan which spilled chances and failed to get their act together on the field as well during batting.
Glimpses of excellence were overshadowed by inexperience which reflected in some of the dismissals of the batsmen like Mohammad Hafeez. Indians kept pegging with wickets at crucial junctures with good bowling performance and beat Pakistan in all the departments of the game to book a berth in the finals.
For scores for the matches you can visit the following links from top sites:
Live Scoreboard from ESPN Star
And here are the official links to watch the ICC World Cup Cricket 2011 Finals:
Watch Live Cricket from ESPN Star
Both India and Sri Lanka have their set of strengths and weaknesses. India has been dependent on the starts provided by its top three batsmen in most parts of the tournament. Sachin Tendulkar continues to play like he is still 16 years old while Virender Sehwag has been at his usual explosive best.
The middle-order has depth but looks a little brittle with Yuvraj being the lone consistent performer with the bat. The bowling has the likes of Zaheer Khan who is getting with age though he might miss out on support as Ashish Nehra might not play the finals due to an injured finger.
This would mean the return of Sreesanth which in turn could mean an Achilles Heel in the Indian bowling attack. The spin department has Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj too seem to be finding some rhythm so it would be a relatively balanced attack, an attack that promises but whether it delivers the goods against the potent Sri Lankan batting lineup would have to be seen!
Sri Lanka on the other hand too has a strong opening pair in Upul Tharanga and Dilshan who have both plundered runs in the competition. The middle order is a concern for the team as seasoned campaigner Mahela Jayawardene has not been fired yet. The team grapples with injury woes as all-rounder Angelo Mathews has been ruled out of the finals which would mean the team might bring Nuwan Kulasekara for the finals.
The finals would be remembered for two players who would be playing their last World Cup and both being achievers who set countless milestones for others to follow- Muralidaran and Sachin Tendulkar.
Muralidaran who mesmerized batsmen with his off unconventional spin bowling and doosra would want to make the most of the final. Sachin who is one century away from 100 international century would be looking forward to finishing on a memorable note.
Either way, it would be an enthralling encounter. It is difficult to pick a side but my heart goes with India!
So, enjoy the ICC World Cup Final match and watch this space!
Will India win the ICC World Cup Cricket 2011? Appreciate your opinions!
Here are a couple of interesting videos to watch for: