West Indies tri-series 2013 final: Sri Lanka vs India - Sri Lanka preview
Sri Lanka takes on India in the final of the ongoing triangular tournament, and the Lankans would be eager to exorcise the demons of the 2011 World Cup finals. It will be the umpteenth time that these two nations play each other in the recent past, and for once the Lankans would be hoping to better the head-to-head record when it matters.
The neighbours have faced off twice in this tournament, and both matches, in terms of performances, were at the opposite ends of the cricketing spectrum with each team registering a huge victory once. While the first fixture was all about Sri Lanka, the second one that took place only a couple of days ago saw the Indians laughing their way, improbably, to the top of the table.
Playing continuously for three days straight might have taken a toll on their performance and left the Lankans physically drained and fatigued as was evident in the last match. It does not help when you only have a single day to recover and take on an opponent that seems high on momentum after two big wins.
The Lankans would be hoping that the top order fires just the way it did when these teams collided for the first time in this tournament. Sangakkara, Jayawardene, and Tharanga have had their share of success in this tournament, and it is imperative that they replicate such performances going into the final.
Jayawardene, in particular, has enjoyed great success against the Indians in the past, from the belligerent hundred in the World cup final to the more recent encounter where he notched up another ton.
But it won’t be an easy task for them to outperform the in-form Indian bowlers, particularly Bhuvaneswar Kumar, who leads the table with 8 wickets in the tournament. It is not one of those days when the matches were touted as a duel between the Indian batters vs the opposition bowlers. The Indian bowlers, for a change, deserve greater respect than they ever did and it would not harm the Sri Lankans to not underestimate them.
The all-round exploits of their skipper Angelo Mathews is something that the islanders would be looking forward to.
Herath proved to be a wily customer two days ago; however, the rest of the bowling attack, save Malinga, is a tad inexperienced.
And the rumoured return of Dhoni into the fold is another issue that Mathews has to be wary of, considering his reputation as a big match player. Kohli, the perennial Sri Lankan headache, also seems to have hit top gear.
The veteran is the most vital cog in the Lankan batting line-up, and has registered fair success against the Indians in the past. And with nothing to show from the last two games, he will be eager to get into the thick of things.
The Lankan captain has been effective both with the bat and the ball. He has used the long handle to good effect and has come up with miserly spells time and again, and is arguably the most economical Sri Lankan in the tournament. He will be hoping for an encore in the final.
With 6 wickets thus far in the tournament, he could well prove to be the Lankan answer to the Indian spin duo of Jadeja and Ashwin.
Head to head
India – 77, Sri Lanka – 53
SL will be hoping to win the toss and bat first. It worked for them when they first played the Indians this tournament. Plus, the D/L method put the Lankans in a spot during the last match. And with the possibility of rain looming large, they would do well to avoid the vagaries of the D/L method, which seems to be working against the chasers.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar described the Port-of-Spain strip as the ‘most helpful’ that he has ever bowled on so far, and it speaks volumes about how difficult it is to score freely on this track. Not expected to behave drastically different to the way it has in the last two matches, one can hope for another field day for the bowlers. And the ever-so-unpredictable torrential rain could make life difficult vis-a-vis the D/L method.
Mahela Jayawardene, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara (WK) , Dinesh Chandimal, Angelo Mathews (C) , Lahiru Thirimanne, Jeevan Mendis, Dilhara Lokuhettige, Lasith Malinga, Rangana Herath, Shaminda Eranga