Ahead of Thursday's trination final at Port-of-Spain (Trinidad), Ravi Shastri has pointed out that India should be wary of in-form Sri Lankan batsmen Mahela Jayawardene and Upul Tharanga. Jayawardene will be playing his 400th ODI and will become the third cricketer after Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya to do so. (Preview)
Writing in his column, Shastri backed India's youthful team to win another ODI title and lauded the team's ability to bounce back after two defeats in the West Indies. Shastri said India's ability to finish on top of the table without an injured Mahendra Singh Dhoni was commendable. (Jayawardene plays 400th ODI)
The former all-rounder said India's young guns had wonderfully filled the gaps left by senior players. Shastri praised India's selection committee chaired by former batting star Sandeep Patil for backing a team of young men. (Dhoni may be back for final)
"Doomsayers often wondered about life after India's golden set of players had left the stage. Not very long ago, one shuddered to think if Zaheer Khan could be replaced. Or, if there could be future beyond the duo of Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir. Or, if Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman's absence would leave a gaping hole in the middle. There seemed to be no spinner to take over from first, Anil Kumble and then, Harbhajan Singh. All of them now seemed unfounded fears," Shastri wrote in his newspaper column.
In spite of India's quality, Shastri said the Lankans would look for revenge, having hurt their pride in the 2011 World Cup final and more recently, the ICC Champions Trophy semifinal at Cardiff. "I expect this battle to be one between the batsmen of the two sides," said Shastri, pointing out that Jayawardene and Tharanga were among the tournament's top three scorers.
Sunil Gavaskar, too, backs India to win another title after the Champions Trophy victory against England in Birmingham on June 23. But Gavaskar fears the elements could play spoilsport. "Nobody wants to see a final decided by the Duckworth-Lewis method. We just had one final (the Champions Trophy) turned into a T20 final and definitely do not want another like that," Gavaskar has written. The Little Master, who turned 64 on Wednesday, feels pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar will play a key role against a Lankan batting line-up studded with left-handers.