India-Sri Lanka WC final today
The curtain will fall on cricket’s biggest event today.
Besides some fortunate ones who have got the precious tickets to watch the match from the stands, billion of cricket-mad people around the world will stay glued to their TV screens when India lock horns with Sri Lanka in the all-Asian final of the ICC Cricket World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
The journey began with a gala opening ceremony in Dhaka on February 17 and everybody is now waiting for a grand finish to a successful World Cup in the subcontinent.
The question was all around: Is it MS Dhoni after Kapil Dev or is it Kumar Sangakkara after Arjuna Ranatunga? Whoever takes the trophy in the end would make it their second success for their country. But while India are looking forward to put an end to their twenty-eight year wait, rivals Sri Lanka are looking forward to lift it after fifteen years.
Everybody was expecting a great final match at the sporting wicket of the Wankhede Stadium as the best two teams qualified into the final. India might be tagged as a favourite in the final encounter but Sri Lanka proved themselves as the most professional team in the tournament though it would be a big challenge for the Lankans to play against the partisan crowd and conditions that are unlike their home ones.
Without any doubt, a final match itself was good enough to bring all the excitement and hype but still there has been something more for the cricket lovers. Two great characters in the world cricket in Sachin Tendulkar and Muttiah Muralidaran have hogged the spotlight in the lead-up to the final. It seems that there will be another battle within the final although both the captains tried to focus only on the team effort for success in the last battle.
The focus will be on the spin wizard Muralidaran, who is expected to play his last international match today although there has been some uncertainty with his participation in the last game due to injury.
Indian skipper MS Dhoni however firmly believed that the highest wicket-taker would not miss this opportunity.
“Murali is a very special individual. He will definitely play the game unless he is on one leg,” quipped the Indian skipper during a pre-match press conference.
Praising Murali all the way, Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara however was not ready to focus only on one player. “Our cricket has never been about individuals. We never had a tournament where it’s been one person’s tournament, always had collective efforts. World Cup or any other match, victory is only possible if everyone contributes,” said a toned down Sangakkara.
On the other hand, master blaster Sachin Tendulkar has achieved many things in his 21-year long career but has yet to be part of a World Cup winning team. But it is set up perfectly and nothing can be better than if India wins this at his home ground. And it would definitely be a special occasion for the Little Master, if he also gets his hundredth international century in the final in front of his home crowd.
“God made him (Sachin Tendulkar) to play cricket. He is an amazing character,” said Dhoni while his attention was drawn with the special occasion.
“We’re not here to spoil anything. Everyone understands the importance of scoring runs in a final, whether it be Sachin or anyone else. One hundred 100s it’s the first time a player is going to get there. All of that adds to the expectations for a World Cup final.” “Our job is to ensure that the India team doesn’t score too many runs,” Sangakkara responded on the Sachin issue.
The Sri Lankan skipper however was more interested with the tournament.
“It’s been a great tournament. I always say that the sub-continent is the place to play cricket in. There’s no other place that can match the buzz, the excitement, the hype around the game, the passion and the love for the game as well. When you play a tournament of this magnitude here, it kind of lifts the entire occasion and makes that occasion a lot more glorious,” said the experienced campaigner.
In terms of quality of matches, interest of the fans and successful arrangement the tournament has really been a great success, a fact that ICC president Sharad Pawar did not fail to mention prior to the final. Now all we need is a quality final that can give a fitting farewell to the 40-day tourney.
Courtesy of The Daily Star