India, SL ready for final showdown

Updated: 09 July 2008 17:10 IST

India will heavily rely on their in-form batsmen to to do the job when they take on a confident Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup on Sunday.

India, SL ready for final showdown

Karachi:

With their bowlers looking quite ordinary, India will heavily rely on their in-form batsmen to to do the job when they take on a confident Sri Lanka in the final of the Asia Cup on Sunday.

While the Indian bowlers have not made much of an impression on the batting-friendly track at the National Stadium, the batsmen have made amends by chasing down big totals in the tournament so far.

The script could unfold in a similar fashion in the summit showdown on Sunday, though the Indians will be keen to improve their bowling and fielding to be able to counter the islanders.

Blazing starts from the pair of Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag have so far set the pace for India and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni will be hoping that the two openers click again so that there is less pressure on the middle order batsmen.

Thrice in the super league stage the batsmen either piled up or chased big totals and their only defeat in the competition was the one to Pakistan in the super league stage when the bowlers could not defend a total of 308.

Irfan Pathan, who returned to the side against Pakistan after missing the first three games due to a side strain, has been most expensive and the weak link in the bowling line up for the Indians.

Indians need to do some serious thinking on their bowling combination because left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha has not looked as dangerous as either Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis or Muttiah Murlitharan.

Dhoni, however, defended his bowlers insisting that the pitches were just too flat and true for batting.

"The spinners are also finding it difficult to get turn in the middle overs. So the batting has to take the responsibility and support the bowlers," Dhoni said.

Although on paper both sides appear to be equally balanced but the Lankans appear to have an edge in the bowling department.

Sri Lankan captain Mahela Jayawardene believes that after two weeks of regular matches there will be some wear and tear in the pitches for the final and it is obvious he is counting on Mendis and Murali to deliver the goods.

Sri Lankan attack is surely strengthened by the presence of promising Ajantha Mendis, whose unpredictable spin is proving difficult to be decoded by batsmen.

So heavily are the Sri Lankans banking on Mendis to play an influential role in the final that they preferred to rest him for the super league round game against the Indians, having already qualified for the final.

The Lankan decision was based on the fact that the Indians have not played Mendis as yet and the finger spinner is already leading with 11 wickets in the competition.

And Jayawardene would certainly be hoping that Mendis would be as natural with his bowling as possible because as yet no one has been able to fathom whether he is an off-spinner or a leg-spinner as he turns it both ways and also has a well disguised slider.

The Sri Lankans have come under fire from some former players and in the Pakistan media for not playing Mendis and experienced seamer Chaminda Vaas against India as it weakened their bowling attack and allowed the Indians to comfortably chase a total of 308 runs.

"We wanted to rest them so we rested them," Jayawardene said after the defeat to India.

Jayawardene admitted they would also have some plans in place for the Indian openers who appears to be in fine nick.

With hosts Pakistan out of the way, it will be interesting to see which team wins the support of the home crowd as the organisers are making hectic efforts to bring in the crowds by even distributing around 10,000 free tickets for the final.

While Sri Lanka are expected to make two changes for the final bringing back Mendis and Vaas the Indians will ponder on whether to go in with five specialist bowlers or just four.

All in all, the Asia Cup is certain to close with a bang with a keenly contested final expected between two top One-day sides.

For the records, the Sri Lankans are the defending champions having beaten India in the last final in 2004 at home and in eight tournaments their record is awesome as they have reached the final seven times.

India: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan, Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Piyush Chawla, Manpreet Gony, Ishant Sharma, R P Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Praveen Kumar.

Sri Lanka: Mahela Jayawardene (Captain), Tillakaratne Dilshan, Dilhara Fernando, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chamara Kapugedera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Ajantha Mendis, Thilan Thushara, Jehan Mubarak, Muttiah Muralitharan, Kumar Sangakkara, Chamara Silva, Mahela Udawatte, Chaminda Vaas, Kaushalya Weeraratne.

Match starts at 3.30 pm IST.

Topics : Cricket
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