Saturday, 28 April 2007

Final Preview: Australia vs Sri Lanka

We finally come to the end. It has been that sort of World Cup hasn't it? All the thrills and excitement we were promised have largely failed to materialise thus far and everybody wants this match to be one of the greatest of all time. The good news is that it could well be that!

In a repeat of the 1996 Final, Sri Lanka, underdogs once again, are taking on the Champions elect, Australia. Sri Lanka will not mind their underdog status though as they play some of their greatest cricket when they feel free to express themselves, especially at the top of the order. And of course, it is when Australia are that their most confident that they can actually be at their most vulnerable, as in 1996 and during the recent CB series. They have shown a level of professionalism and focus so far though that few teams in the history of the game have ever matched, if any. The pitch in Barbados should favour pace and do something first up, bad news for Sri Lanka maybe, or maybe not with their pace line-up. It is their spinners who can stiffle games though, so they will be hoping that the pitch is slow when the Aussies bat and that is more likely in the second half.

So we all hope that this equation will add up to one fantastic final, rife with tension, brilliance and ultimately delerium. The team news is good, everyone is fit. Australia will line up as per usual with a formidable batting line-up, backed up by a combination of a strike bowler, evergreen miser, industrious work horse, mysterious spinner and a few bits and bobs. Indeed their opening partnership is a culmination of the success of Sri Lanka's new approach in 1996. Both of these sides really do go for broke in the first twenty overs, hint hint England hey? Sri Lanka meanwhile match up pretty well, with the mystery man himself, a pacey spearhead, two wiley old misers and a few part timers. There batting is prehaps not as strong, but many would say that their bowling contains more wicket takers and options. Overall, this is how they match up man for man:

Ricky Ponting (c) 10
Mahela Jayawardene (c) 9

Matthew Hayden 9
Adam Gilchrist (wk) 9
Michael Clarke 9
Sanath Jayasuriya 9
Upal Tharanga 6
Kumar Sangakkara (wk) 9

Andrew Symonds 9
Michael Hussey 8
Shane Watson 7
Chamara Silva 8
Tilakaratne Dilshan 8
Russell Arnold 7

Brad Hogg 8
Nathan Bracken 8
Shaun Tait 8
Glenn McGrath 8
Chaminda Vaas 8
Farheez Maharoof / Dilhara Fernando 6
Muttiah Muralitharan 10
Lasith Malinga 9

Totals: Australia 93 Sri Lanka 89

Prediction: The toss could prove crucial to the result on this wicket. I want Sri Lanka to win, I tipped them at the start, therefore I can not change my mind now, Sri Lanka, though the brain tells us all that it will likely be Australia.

Key Players: Ricky Ponting, Glenn McGrath, Sanath Jayasuriya and Chaminda Vaas.

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