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Behind enemy lines

Sri Lanka need to bring out their 'A' game to tackle peaking India, writes Ian Chappell.

india Updated: Apr 02, 2011 01:27 IST
Ian Chappell

There's a lot to play for in this Mumbai finale - a second trophy for one of the teams, a first ever home final win if it's India and a Cup-winning send-off for one of the two champions, Sachin Tendulkar or Muttiah Muralitharan.

Add to that the fact that two best teams have made it to the final and the only thing required to complete a successful World Cup is a great match. It's on the cards with two evenly matched teams.

Peaking India
India appears to be peaking at the right time and most importantly their weaker link, the bowling, has rounded into form for the knockout stage. They'll need to bowl well to the strong Sri Lankan top order.

Tillakaratne Dilshan is Sri Lanka's answer to Virender Sehwag. He can get his team off to a rollicking start and quickly put the opposition on the defensive. Like Sehwag, it is best not to give him any room outside the off-stump and Zaheer Khan, if he swings the new ball into Dilshan, will trouble him. If he gets off to a flying start then India has to restrict his scoring and try and frustrate him into self-destruction.

Sri Lanka's spine
Kumar Sangakkara is the backbone of the batting - he can bat steadily for a long time and then pick up the pace near the end of the innings. He's a pretty complete player but can be surprised by a good bouncer early or an off-spinner curving into leg and spinning away. Get him early or he'll make you pay in his present form.

Mahela Jaywardene is another player who likes to bat for a long time. He's vulnerable early to the ball angling away around off-stump, as he often jabs at it.

Once he's set he often tries to dab that ball to third man and is vulnerable to a catch behind the wicket or dragging the ball on to his stumps. The injury to Angelo Matthews is a big blow as he holds the middle and lower order together.

Lurking dangers
The big danger to Sehwag is the in-swinging deliveries of Lasith Malinga. This makes his sublime off-side shots more difficult to play and he occasionally gets bowled by the ball coming in from the off-stump. Malinga is also likely to trouble the left-handers by moving the ball towards the slips.

The big surprise in the Pakistan semi-final was the trouble the Indian batsmen had with the spinners. This will give Muralitharan heart as generally the Indians play him reasonably well. The two teams are led by good, clear-headed captains and India's fielding, which was thought to be a weakness, has picked up as the tournament has gone on.

There's little between these two teams but the strength of India's batting should mean that Tendulkar is the champion who gets the trophy send-off.