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In-form batsmen set India up nicely for final

India will be comfortable facing Sri Lanka in the final with both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been among the runs, writes Anil Kumble.
None | By Anil Kumble
UPDATED ON JUL 05, 2008 12:24 AM IST

As we've seen all through the Asia Cup, big scores, even those in excess of 300, are being chased down easily. Nothing has changed as we come into the business end with the wickets remaining flat and playing exactly as predicted.

Younis Khan's knock against India was a really strong one and he seems to do well in pressure games against us. The manner in which he batted in what was a must-win game for his team was commendable.

That said, India will be comfortable facing Sri Lanka in the final having just beaten them. We were chasing a big total and it was crucial that the openers got the team off to a good start. That has been a feature of chasing down big scores and India have been helped by the fact that both Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir have been among the runs. It also helps that they score so quickly, taking the pressure off the batsmen who follow.

I have been impressed by the manner in which Mahendra Singh Dhoni has used himself in a floating position up and down the order. Not only has he batted well, he has also been spot on in choosing when to come up the order. Perhaps his experience in the Kitply Cup, where he came down the order, taught him something.

Dhoni will also take heart from the fact that all of India's batsmen have spent time out in the middle and have been among the runs.

For the bowlers, it has been hard work and you can't fault the effort they have put in. When you play in Pakistan, whether it is Test cricket or ODIs, there's nothing for either the fast bowlers or the spinners. With the ball change coming into effect, even the reverse swing aspect is taken out of the equation. In this context, I thought R.P. Singh bowled well in the last match, returning to the team. Irfan Pathan is also finding his way back after injury and has had a tough time.

Looking forward to the final, India will definitely be high on confidence having beaten Sri Lanka in a crunch match only days before. I quite fancy India's chances.

The first 10 overs will be crucial. If we're batting first, it's important to get off to a good start. If India are bowling first, the initial overs are important because they need to get rid of the likes of Sanath Jayasuriya and Kumar Sangakkara. With bowling in the middle overs getting increasingly difficult, it's important to do some damage early.

Sri Lanka held back Ajantha Mendis in the last game, and it will be interesting to see how the Indians play his mixed bag of spin, if he plays.

Hawkeye/Chivach Sports

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