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Focus back on cricket

cricket Updated: Aug 21, 2010 23:28 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Amol Karhadkar
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

No doubt that even though the skies have been cleared for Sunday by the Sri Lankan Met department, the biggest on-field scandal between two of the happiest cricketing neighbours will cast its shadow over the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium. However, there will be plenty more to look forward to in India's tie against Sri Lanka on Sunday at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium.

The tie means much more to both teams than coming out with all guns blazing after the Suraj Randiv-Virender Sehwag no-ball controversy. The bowler was fined and suspended for a match and Tillakaratne Dilshan, the catalyst, was also penalised.

With an eye on the World Cup, the tournament has kicked off the preparatory phase for all three teams in the tournament. But with the hosts having an impeccable record at home and India having had a dream run in the Emerald Isles under Mahendra Singh Dhoni's leadership, neither team would want to pack their bags at the end of the preliminary stage.

And the abandoned match between New Zealand and Sri Lanka has converted the remaining two league matches into virtual knockout ties.

If Sri Lanka lose their second successive outing against India, Kumar Sangakkara's boys will get an unwanted additional weeklong break as their campaign will come to an early end. If that happens, it will be only the second time in 14 instances that a final of a tri-nation or a quadrangular series in Sri Lanka will not feature the home side.

On the other hand, a victory on Sunday - irrespective of the margin - will ensure a place in the final for the hosts, converting the last league match between India and New Zealand game into a playoff for the grand finale.

In such a situation, even if the no-ball incident had not occurred, Sri Lanka would have gone all out and given their best shot to avoid an early exit.

India, however, would be slightly better off than the other two teams going into the game since they have to win just one of their remaining two matches in the group stage to progress. But the Indian team management is desperate to seal the deal on Sunday. That would give them the chance to test their bench strength in the last league game against the Kiwis.

Though the weather is not exepcted to intervene, if it does, and the four points are shared, Sri Lanka would be vitually assured of a place in the final. While the hosts will not mind a wet weekend, let's hope it will be a scintillating, and not soggy, Sunday.