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Final countdown for biggest cricketing battle begins

cricket Updated: Apr 01, 2011 09:54 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
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A buoyant Indian team reached Mumbai, their final World Cup destination, on Thursday and checked into the hotel for a well-deserved night’s rest after the exhilarating victory over Pakistan in Mohali.

India will get just one day’s full practice before the final showdown against Sri Lanka, who arrived in Mumbai on Wednesday and trained at the Wankhede stadium.

India’s brief but high-octane countdown for the big game begins on Friday with a pre-match training session at the refurbished stadium.

Although it is one of India’s famous venues, it will be Sri Lanka who will be more aware of the playing conditions here, having defeated New Zealand in the league stage.

India have never trained or played on the re-laid pitch. The victory in Mohali has raised expectations to a fever pitch ahead of the final, which will either allow Sachin Tendulkar to add the one accolade missing in his record-strewn career or give Muttiah Muralitharan a second winner’s medal as he bids adieu to his international innings.

Saturday’s final will also have a touch of diplomacy with President Pratibha Patil and Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa expected to watch the match together at the stadium. The only bad news coming from the Indian camp is that left-arm seamer Ashish Nehra may miss the game due to a finger injury.