Tri-country cricket tournament: India vs. Sri Lanka final today
COLOMBO: After seeing off New Zealand''s timorous challenge, Sri Lanka and India will contest bragging rights in the Compaq Cup final.
Sri Lanka holds the edge in the clash between two sides who generally don''t do dull finals. The winners will go into the Champions Trophy in positive mood, leaving the loser to put salve on their injured pride.
While Kumar Sangakkara said a decision on Muttiah Muraliatharan''s availability would be taken on Sunday evening, the bowler is fit and Sri Lanka should be fielding their strongest side - Thilan Samaraweera remains a doubt - and an Indian team missing the experience of three big-match players will have its work cut out to be competitive. Sri Lanka trounced India in the dress rehearsal on Saturday and again proved that once they have a score on the board at the Premadasa, they defend it resolutely.
Sri Lanka has all the weapons they need in two brisk new-ball operators, a vicious slinger, and two spinners with an assortment of tricks. Each of those bowlers is capable, more so under lights, of denying batsmen the space and time to score. The support cast is no less impressive, with the ever-improving Angelo Mathews and India would do well to be wary of Sanath Jayasuriya, who sorted out a couple of New Zealand batsmen with his variations last week. On Monday, India could face the world''s most potent spin attack, with Murali and Ajantha Mendis possibly back in tandem. There will be a few flashes of the Asia Cup final last year.
India''s concern is the batting, particularly at the top. Dinesh Karthik may have just played his way out of the XI, despite MS Dhoni having twice spoken of how wary he is to stick young Virat Kohli in as opener. Sachin Tendulkar has got starts on two occasions, but most worrying is the form of Yuvraj Singh, who has struggled to start against pace and spin. He scratched around dreadfully in both matches. India''s fielding was also rather shabby in the previous game.
India''s only real hope is to put up a big total and then pressure Sri Lanka''s batsmen into committing errors. Chasing against the likes of Murali, Mendis and Lasith Malinga is a difficult task at the best of times, and as India found out yesterday, the anaconda grip gets you eventually.