East and West shall meet in battle of styles
The final will be a classic east-west encounter, the wristy and mercurial against the ruthless and powerful, writes Barry Richards.india Updated: Apr 27, 2007 01:54 IST
Was it a good World Cup? Not really — too many games, too many unwelcome distractions, too many uninteresting matches, and in the end, a predictable clash between the two best teams. Both Australia and Sri Lanka were ruthless against opponents who were completely outplayed.
In the first semifinal, New Zealand never had a chance after the masterly display from Sri Lanka in general, and Mahela Jayawardene in particular. Always an able leader, he has been brilliant here, improving with each game. With his help, Sri Lanka got 69 runs off their last five overs, which was outstanding. In bowling, the underrated Chaminda Vaas led the attack with customary efficiency, and Lasith Malinga came in with the bazookas. When you add Jayasuriya and of course, Murali to the line-up, you have an attack for all occasions, which is the least a team needs to upset Australia.
Which brings me to the second semifinal, and it will be some time before South Africa shake off the chokers tag. Australia, of course, have been awesome, and it seems impossible to detect a chink in their armour. Hayden, Clarke et al have been scoring at over six an over. Add Andrew Symonds and getting the better of the Aussies appears a daunting task.
Of the bowlers, Glenn McGrath is determined to go out on a high, and most of the batsmen have appeared no closer to reading him than they were four years ago. Bracken has added the swing element, while Shaun Tait has improved beyond recognition. The final will be a classic east-west encounter, the wristy and mercurial against the ruthless and powerful. The head says Australia, but Sri Lanka have played beautifully and have the ammunition to cause an upset. The wicket will be a good one to bat on, so take your pick.