Unorthodox attack did the trick for Sanga's men

Updated on Mar 31, 2011 02:34 AM IST

It is a fitting tribute to one of the world's greatest bowlers to end his career by contesting the World Cup final in Mumbai.

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Hindustan Times | ByRichard Hadlee

It is a fitting tribute to one of the world's greatest bowlers to end his career by contesting the World Cup final in Mumbai.

Muttiah Muralitharan is a champion and a 'pace-setter' - he is adored by millions for his unique skills and for what he has contributed to Sri Lankan and world cricket.

It was also wonderful to see him take a wicket with his last ball in his final appearance in Sri Lanka - his teammates and crowd enjoyed the moment.

Murali's brilliant career will end in a few days, but his world record for most Test and ODI wickets - an cumulative total of over 1300 international wickets - is unlikely to be surpassed. Yes, he has had a controversial career but that should never undermine what he has achieved.

Again, Murali bowled impressively in the semifinal against New Zealand, even if he was bowling on one leg. I am sure the leg injury that Murali is carrying will not deny him his last moment of glory in the final if Sri Lanka become world champions for the second time.

Sri Lanka snuffed out the Black Caps' challenge of going beyond where they have never been before in World Cups. The Black Caps have been a team of battlers throughout the World Cup, but it was lack of skill and aptitude in certain situations that ultimately brought about their demise.

New Zealand will look back and say they missed opportunities when they were in positions of putting Sri Lanka under pressure. Winning the toss was crucial and batting first on a used pitch, where the ball was likely to keep low as the game progressed and make batting last more difficult, the Black Caps needed a score of around 240-250. They were on target at 192/4 but their inability to force the pace against the Sri Lankan attack meant that 217 was hardly going to be enough.

Daniel Vettori felt the semifinal should have been played on a new pitch instead of a used one, but in all fairness, the pitch should not be blamed for the result. It played well enough.

Again, the Black Caps' batting was exposed to the unorthodox Sri Lankan attack. Malinga is difficult to deal with on any day and with the four-pronged spin attack of Murali, Herath, Dilshan and Mendis weaving their magic, it was not surprising to see them lose six wickets for 25 runs.

Hawkeye

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