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India best team on display

By Sourav Ganguly
Saturday, April 02, 2022

Two of the best teams in the competition have qualified for the final. Expect a fantastic game in Mumbai. India have had a much tougher journey to the finals than Sri Lanka. They had to get past two big teams, Australia and Pakistan. Although every win is worth its weight in gold in the World Cup, Sri Lanka has surely had a slightly easier journey. England and New Zealand in sub-continent conditions are surely easier oppositions.

Both the teams are very well balanced to exploit the conditions. India has an advantage of being a very, very good batting side and Sri Lanka, with Lasith Malinga and the two spinners, may be a bit ahead on bowling.

However, no one can take away the credit from the Indian bowling, the way they have delivered in the World Cup and in the past. There has been a lot of talk about this Indian bowling but the best bit about this unit is, every time the batters have not put enough runs on the board, the bowling has stood up to stop the opposition run-scoring. The game against Pakistan was the biggest example.

Mental toughness

The biggest plus of this Indian team has been the mental resilience. There has always been an abundance of talent in Indian cricket but this team has looked more agile, they are very aware of situations and are more clever on the field than all other teams in the tournament. Thus, India is the best team on display.

The body language of the team in the quarter-final and semi-final was exemplary. What has been most satisfying is when the big games arrived, the team has shown terrific mental sharpness, followed by quick decisions. Different players have stepped up to the plate. Suresh Raina in two games, Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel with their bowling in the Pakistan game, and added to this, most importantly, the fielding standards.

The wicket in Mumbai will be lively for the quicks early on, as it has always been, and the new ball will be an important phase of the game. The team that has wickets in hand will be able to score a lot as bounce will help shot-making.

The Sri Lankan spinners at Wankhede did well against New Zealand and we have to wait and see how much purchase they get in this final game. India might still go in with three quicks. Dhoni and the team management believe against sub-continent teams having an extra spinner doesn't make much difference.

The captain's decision has been helped by the good form of Yuvraj. We were all very surprised when Ashwin was left out in Mohali but to Dhoni's credit Nehra bowled very well under pressure.

So there will be no surprise if we see the same Indian eleven in Mumbai.

As expected India went past Pakistan in the semis at Mohali and to me the right teams have qualified for the World Cup final. This is the first time two sub-continent teams have qualified for the final and I think there is not much to question that. India will have two days before they get on to the park on Saturday.

India-Pakistan games are generally very draining and it is important India utilise these two days to rest and get ready for Mumbai. Sri Lanka will get one extra day for the final and I am sure after two games in the Colombo heat they will not mind the Mumbai heat.

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