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World Cup final: the preview Published: 01 April 2011

It has taken 48 matches, spread over six weeks to decide but the 2011 ICC World Cup final features the competition's two best sides: India and Sri Lanka.

One of the sub-continental giants will lift their second World Cup trophy under the lights in Mumbai.

For either it will be richly deserved. Neither has excelled in this competition but their paths to the final have been relatively smooth - a near miracle considering the weight of expectation piled on by the home support.

Sri Lanka have received a huge blow with the loss of Angelo Mathews to injury - the all rounder has been replaced in the squad by off-spinner Suraj Radiv. Veteran Chaminda Vaas has also been called into the 15-man squad.

India have a similarly tricky selection dilemma as Ashish Nehra is unlikely to play. His place will be taken by either Sreesanth or Ravichandran Ashwin.

Whatever happens, Lord’s will be guaranteed to host a world champion in 2011 - both sides visit for a Test and One Day International against England.

Little to choose

The two strongest host nations share little in terms of their composition but the basic ingredients are the same - powerful batting and bowling based on spin and manipulation of the old ball.

Both sides’ chance of winning almost certainly lies in the ability of their bowlers to contain the opposing top-order.

Sri Lanka’s top order has been prolific during the tournament, with two centuries each for openers Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga.

Captain Kumar Sangakkara averages over 100 from the tournament with one century and three fifties while Mahela Jayawardene has also passed three figures.

Their prolific scoring his had a negative effect on the rest of their batting though. The likes of Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Silva have barely had a hit in the tournament so far.

Kumar Sangakkara praised they way his middle order negotiated a brief semi-final wobble against New Zealand to secure a five-wicket win.

India know there is a soft underbelly waiting to be exposed but the bowling is based on a policy of containment rather than attack. The pressure of a final though could alter that.

Hold their nerve

India bat deep and with unprecedented strength but Sri Lanka have an attack which will be undaunted by the likes of Tendulkar, Dhoni and Virender Sehwag.

Murali will grab the headlines but their key man in this tournament has been Ajantha Mendis, whose beguiling mix of mystery spin has cost just 3.14 runs an over.

His nerveless bowling throughout the innings has afforded Sangakkara control and the likes of Murali and Lasith Malinga scope to attack.

India were lucky to make 260 against Pakistan whose bowling attack is rivaled only by Sri Lanka’s in sub-continental conditions. India know they will have to improve in order to collect the trophy.

Key battle - Virender Sehwag v the new ball

Whoever opens the bowling for Sri Lanka will know that 15 overs of Sehwag could put the contest to bed.

The aggressive opener will bat unencumbered by the situation - he made a run a ball 82 in his previous final appearance in 2003. Despite the hype around Tendulkar chasing a 100th international century - his is the key wicket.

Verdict

Sri Lanka are probably the better all round side but when the Indian batting fires, as it often does, there is little anyone can do.

The pressure on the home side will be immense though with deafening silence at every India error.

Whatever happens, expect a fitting finale.

The newly refurbished Lord's Tavern is showing the match live. Where better to take in the World Cup Final than the Home of Cricket?


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