In what is being billed as the Final before the Finals when India take on defending champion Australia in Ahmedabad on Thursday, the spot light will also be on Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, the two best batsmen in contemporary cricket who will be playing in their last World Cup.
While Ponting has been a previous winner, for Sachin, it will be his last chance to add the coveted trophy to his by now extremely distinguished career. In any case, even if India wins this one, they will have to win two other matches before being crowned champions.
While the whole of India wants us to vanquish the Aussies, it is a match, which will test the best and separate the men from the boys. Tendulkar is in great form and I hope he sparkles again to take his side into the semis. Ponting has so far had a bad World Cup in respect of his individual scores but than the law of averages may catch up and he may come out with his big one on Thursday. It is always a treat to watch top players and both of them to my mind are geniuses of the game. For me it is more of a duel between Sachin and Ponting rather than India and Australia. This is despite the fact that India has in its ranks Virendra Sehwag, the most destructive batsman in the world today and the Aussies have Hussey who wants to leave his mark on the game. There are of course others and I am sure the teams as a whole will perform so that Cricket can be the ultimate winner.
This has been a very even World Cup so far and apart from Tendulkar and Ponting, there are two other greats who may be playing their last championship this time. I am referring to Jacques Kallis, the greatest all rounder the game has seen since Sir Garfield Sobers and of course Muralitharan, the highest wicket taker in the history of cricket whom Bishen Bedi often refers as a chucker. In any case Kallis and Murali are both fighters who will give their best to make their teams win.
Coming back to the Indian side, I am of the opinion that Dhoni should make Sreesanth play instead of Munaf Patel and give another chance to Piyush Chawla who should come in place of Harbhajan who has had a bad World Cup so far. R Ashwin should remain in the team and Yusuf Pathan should make way for Sehwag. Many Indian fans may not agree with my pick but this is just an assessement and I am sure others will have their opinions on this subject as well. I, like the rest of you want to see a fiercely fought game on Thursday. Cricket has to be the ultimate winner.