Co-Written by The Unknown Sports and Skye-Da-Man
The finalists are in, the venue is set, and the atmosphere is chaotic. Both India and Sri Lanka have fought their way through to the World Cup Final match. More impressively, they did it on ‘home’ soil (matches were played both in India and Sri Lanka). Here is an overview of each team:
Sachin Tendulkar – If you did not get a chance to read the article on this international superstar, read it now. He is arguably the best batsman of all time, and could be considered the best overall player of all time. After he retires, he will be at the same legendary level as Jordan, Rice, and Gretzky. Let’s just look at the stats: he is the only player to hit 200 runs in one match, the only player to have over 18,000 runs to his name, and is on the verge to obtaining his 100th 100 run or more game (a century of centuries). His role this tournament has been to hold the line and let the other players hit out of the park. If he can maintains this strategy, then India has a solid chance to win the match.
Yuvraj Singh – The man of the tournament for India. Singh has had a rough year of inconsistencies, but this tournament has brought out his true skill (with the exception of the Pakistan match…but he did get a couple wickets). If Tendulkar were to get out early in the inning, then it is Singh who is expected to pick up the slack.
Harbhajan Singh – Not only does this Singh have an extremely cool first name, he is also one of the best spin bowlers in the world. With the right swing, Singh can get anyone out with his crafty ‘pitching’. Similar to baseball pitchers, Singh can control where he wants the ball to be placed. It is a rare talent that, on a good day, can completely overcome the Sri Lankan lineup.
MS Dhoni – Dhoni’s impact in this match is more on the side of coaching, rather than playing. He made a smart move going with Nehra over Ashwin during the Pakistan match. Hopefully Dhoni maintains his coaching prowess and outwits Sri Lanka.
Zaheer Khan – Zaheer Khan has been with the Indian team for multiple world cups. He is the staple fast bowler. He is meant to keep the run count low and let other players take the wickets..similar to the strategy of Tendulkar, but in the bowling sense. If Khan’s run economy stays below 5, then India have a solid defensive shot to beat Lanka.
Tillakaratne Dilshan – Competing with Virender Sehwag for the tag of most exciting opener on the planet, Tillakaratne Dilshan is Sri Lanka’s modern-day Jayasuriya. Opening batsman Dilshan has had an outstanding tournament and is the leading scorer in the competition going into the final, with 467 runs, including two centuries. He has scored more boundaries than any other player with 58 fours and four sixes and a fantastic strike rate. Although the TV adverts throughout the World Cup have been celebrating his innovative “Dilscoop”, Dilshan has actually not had to resort to that sort of improvisation as most of his success has come with traditional stroke-play. If that is not enough, Dilshan is a more than useful spin bowler who has even opened the bowling at times during the tournament.
Mahela Jayawardene – Jayawardene is considered to be one of the best batsmen produced by Sri Lanka and is generally held in high regard as a legend of the modern game along with team-mate Kumar Sangakkara. His partnership with Kumar is a strength that is much needed if the front 2 slip, especially considering India’s firepower in batting.
Lasith Malinga – “Malinga the Slinger” is a unique talent capable of blowing away a side, especially with the old ball. He took his second World Cup hat-trick in this tournament and provides a perfect foil for the final selection of my ‘5 2 watch’. Malingas presence is sure to bring confidence to the Sri Lankan fans and excite all!
Muttiah Muralitharan – One of the most successful bowlers in history who, even when clearly nowhere near full fitness, has still taken 15 wickets at 16.It was just typical of the man that he should take a wicket with the last ball he bowled in an international in his home country. Tendulkar will try to steal the headlines with a historic hundred on Saturday, but who is to say Murali won’t be the hero, taking the winning wicket with his final international delivery. Early prediction: Murali takes Sachins wicket on 99 runs.
Kumar Sangakarra – It is a heavy burden for the Sri Lanka captain to keep wicket, bat at three and skipper this team – but if anyone can, Kumar can. A trained lawyer, Kumar Sangakkara is one of the most intelligent, articulate and likeable men in the international game. Kumar has had an outstanding World Cup with the bat and the gloves, scoring 417 runs at an average of over 100 and keeping well to Sri Lanka’s varied bowling attack. His strike rate has been good and he does it all with great style.You just know if Sangakarra gets to lift the Trophy on Saturday evening in Mumbai, he’ll do it with class.
The Unknown Sport’s Prediction:
India is loaded at the batting position, the first 6-7 batsman can all easily score over 50 runs. Even the back end batsmen are known for the occasional scoring flair. The major problem for India is their lack of defense. Their bowling is inconsistent and they tend to give way to large leads. That being said, during the last two matches, India has been able to stifle the efforts of both Australia and Pakistan (who are not batting novices). I pick India by 10 runs all out.