April 27, 2011

Duncan Fletcher to coach INDIA

    The most awaited result is out. Well of course, you guessed it. Its Drunken .. oops Duncan Fletcher who will be coaching the World Cup 2011 Champs. For the first time in the history of  Indian cricket, BCCI have actually hurt their reputation of being the lazy government officials we think they are. They have announced the coach of the national way before the whole world was ready for it. There were a lot of speculations about who would be filling in Kirsten's shoes. Would it be Andy 'The Reverse Sweeping' Flower, Stephen 'CSK-Player Turned Coach' Fleming, Brian 'Snubbed by IPL' Lara, Wasim 'Aiming Indian Citizenship' Akram, Sania 'now married' Mirza even David 'The Hoff' Hasselhoff was in the reckoning aparently. BCCI  has been strictly avoiding desi coaches for GOD knows what reason. And as it appears Duncan Fletcher has bagged a 2 year contract to coach the Indian *cough* world champions*cough* team.
"If it aint broke,don't fix it."
© Getty Images
    Fletcher has had his own share of ups and downs. Captaining Zimbabwe for not too long and having never played test cricket he was chosen as the light-bearer of the England national team. He guided the morally low, very brittle English side to the Ashes Glory in 2005 but, also lost the away series 5-0 in 2007 followed by a very forgettable World Cup campaign. More than coaching, his job is to handle the pressure of media and the board. Personally speaking, he has hit a jackpot at the age of 63. His pay package and perks are sure to put the ECB to shame. I think his story will unravel during the India tour of England. Will he be the next Greg Chappel or Gary Kirsten. Time will have the answer. Let's wait and watch.

April 15, 2011

The Big Bash just got Bigger

Big Bash League - Bigger than before

   A T20 revolution is (apparently) about to take place down-under, thought it was wise to spread the word before the world was caught napping. Well of course if  you already knew too much it will be wise to stop right here. So, wake up now and see what the Ozzie blokes were up to when you were busy bleeding blue (last heard). New format, new teams, new colours almost as though "new" is an understatement.
   Clearly, Cricket Australia is pumped about the Big Bash League. The newer, bigger bash will now feature 8 teams- Adelaide Strikers, Brisbane Heat, Hobart Hurricanes, Perth Scorchers and 2 teams each from Sydney and Melbourne which are Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder, Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars. Each team is represented by a unique jersey colour, unlike a certain T20 league that does not identify different colours in a rainbow. Talking of which, the 8 teams have made sure the colours will remain in your heads even after you switch off your television sets, take a nap, remain blind fold for the next 48-72 hours.

BBL Teams

Name Colour Venue
Adelaide Strikers Blue Adelaide Oval
Brisbane Heat Teal  Gabba 
Hobart Hurricanes  Purple  Bellerive Oval 
Perth Scorchers  Orange  WACA Ground 
Melbourne Renegades  Red  Etihad Stadium 
Melbourne Stars  Green  MCG 
Sydney Sixers  Pink  SCG 
Sydney Thunder Electric Green  ANZ Stadium

   Will be interesting to see how many foreign players are allowed per side and how the local players are distributed which is incase it is not based on which domestic side they represent. Either way Sydney, Melbourne have 2 teams so the loyalities have to split here. Bringing in the corporates does ring the cash registers so, the teams will now be going under the hammer. Whether the auction (players & teams) is the way to go is unknown. So far each teams have picked names, assigned a stadium and chosen their colours. Stay tuned for updates on the BBL as we break them to you right here!

   We leave you with this video to keep your mouth watering till the revolution strikes no sooner than DEC-2011. Enjoy!

April 14, 2011

IPL 4 - Who's In Who's Out

   Only few days into the cricket extravaganza, already a few cracks are seen. The crowd response has been mild at average. The opening ceremony was a big bore, Modi cam is now redundant, star power is lacking, players are bailing out due to injuries and as if bad news was not enough the worse has just been announced. Apparently, the Lankan cricket board is not comfortable with their cricketers playing in the Indian Premier League. Especially, after the recent loss in the World Cup finals coming from them their not so friendly neighbours. Clearly the board wants the players to shift loyalities to the national team. And so for the prosperity of Sri Lankan cricket the board has decided to call their players back for a practise camp ahead of their gruelling tour of England. Now, do you see the big picture? (Well, it was never going to be Jacqueline Fernandez and Ritesh Deshmukh, sorry guys!)

   Big blow to Mumbai Indians who had pinned their hopes on Lasith Malinga picking another 30-35 wickets, so that the rest of the pack could just watch the batsmen save their toes and lose their wickets. Deccan Chargers and Kochi Tuskers Kerala also face serious set backs since the two sides are captained by Sri Lankan players. CSK the Lanka loving IPL side will lose services of Randiv, Kulasekera, Tharanga due to the announcement. Pune Warriors India might not get any duty from the injured Angelo Mathews. MI, KTK will also lose Dilhara Fernando, Thissara Perera although Kochi Tuskers Kerala will be lucky to retain Muralitharan with them. Royal Challengers Bangalore will have to rethink their team mix when Dilshan along with Pradeep follow the board's orders. So far none of the players have shown objection and it is most likely to remain that way. Clearly, most sides will have to re-think their composition and gane plans but, they do have a respite till May 5.

   Good news is that the Aussies have completed national duties in the very long & tough (feel the sarcasm) tour of Bangladesh, which saw the Australians victorious under their new captain, Michael Clarke. So, the teams get some big names in their squads trying to boost their fortunes. Steven Smith however, wont join the Kochi Tuskers Kerala. He will undergo an ankle surgery.

Team Players Out Players In
MI Lasith Malinga, Dilhara Fernando Nil
DC Kumar Sangakkara Cameron White
KTK Mahela Jayawardene, Thissara Perera John Hastings, Steve Smith
PWI Angelo Mathews Callum Ferguson
RCB Tillakaratne Dilshan, Nuwan Pradeep Nil
KKR Nil Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, James Pattinson, Shakib Al Hasan
RR Nil Shane Watson
CSK Nuwan Kulasekera, Upul Tharanga, Suraj Randiv Michael Hussey, Doug Bollinger
KxiP Nil Nil
DD Nil Nil

   Team owners of KKR will be mighty pleased with 4 quality players adding to the squad, having spent not too many days into the IPL. RR will be glad their maverick Shane Watson is in good form and ready for duty. MI will need to re think their bowling combination and hope for Andrew Symonds to get into the zone as soon as possible. Where as DC have not only lost their captain but also their wicket keeper, they need to do some serious fixing in their squad. The rest of the bunch have made up in some way or the other. Kings XI Punjab and  Delhi Daredevils have nothing to take from this news. Its almost as though they are immune to what is happening around them.

   In other news, WICB have dropped Chris Gayle, Shiv Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan  from the upcoming ODI series Vs Pakistan. Marlon Samuels makes yet another come back into the team. Good news is that Mumbai Indians will not lose the services of Kieron Pollard. Chennai Super Kings however, will have to wait for Dwayne Bravo to join their squad once the ODI's are over. He will miss the 2 match test series between West Indies and Pakistan.

April 8, 2011

IPL Season 4 - Group B Preview

   Kolkata Knight Riders:
   The Dark Knight! A complete white wash in the team and new look and feel (mostly Dilli-wallas) some key foreign purchases KKR will be hoping for some change in fortunes as well. After controversially dumping Dada for some multi-captaincy theory and then falling on their bum making him the man in charge to not bidding for him in the player auctions. WOW! quite a ride to be honest. This year they have a lot that is talented and have quite a reputation. Wonder if this season is make or break for the owners. Since, KKR is the only team from the previous 8 that is yet to make it to a semi-finals in the IPL. They made the biggest purchase during the auctions that of Gautam mommy loves Gambhir now named their captain, for 2.4m$. And the prize catch of Yusuf Killer Pathan for another 2.1m$ Phew!! Kallis being their third million dollar baby. Some very smart picks in the domestic players now makes the team a contender for the semis at least!
Captain: Gautam Gambhir
Players Retained: Nil
Key Players: Yusuf Pathan, Eoin Morgan,
Dark Horse: Iqbal Abdulla,Ryan Ten Doeschate, Sourav Ganguly (well of course)
Group A: Deccan Chargers

   Royal Challengers Bangalore:
   Where KKR have many DD's domestic players, Dr. Mallya's men seemed to have robbed the Daredevils in broad daylight. They have Daniel Vettori their new captain, Dirk Nannes, Dilshan, AB De Villiers all from the Delhi Darevils Geeez! Well then again RCB lost all their merry men in Robin, Rahul, Pandey, Steyn none of whom they retained when they had a choice. Apart from the Dilli-walas there is Ex-RCB man Zaheer who makes a come back to his IPL team after swapping to the Mumbai Indians squad for Robin Uthapa. Immensely talented (and slightly over rated) Cheteshwar Pujara, trying to show his tools in T20 cricket and U-23 player of IPL season 3 Saurabh Tiwary and Once upon a time in Indian team Md. Kaif are in the squad as well. Which helps their batting but who are their bowling options?
Captain: Daniel Vettori
Players Retained: Virat Kohli
Key Players: Zaheer Khan, AB De Villiers, Dirk Nannes
Dark Horse: Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Arun Karthik
Group A: Group A: Kings XI Punjab

   Rajasthan Royals:
  The winners of the inaugural IPL, Royals have not had a sweet time in the middle. After being almost kicked out like the KxiP they too have been fortunate to get the mercy plea from! the courts. Although, they did retain skip Warney and talisman Watto it doesn’t explain why they didn’t retain their mojo man Yusuf Pathan. As a result the bidders went bezerk and only KKR could afford him at over 2m$. The Royals look thinner than before only occasional Ross Taylor, the seasoned Rahul Dravid, useful Johan Botha, off target Tait a few names to reckon. Addition of in-form Jacob Oram must be good news for the Royals who replaced Collingwood due to injury. They have done some wild recruiting in the domestic circuit though. Getting some top catches like Rahane, and their usual suspects like Sid Trivedi. A couple from the last years Ranji season heros like Meneria, Chahar. Despite having 3 seasons of experience Royals have done well to remain underdogs.
Captain: Shane Warne
Players Retained: Shane Warne, Shane Watson
Key Players: Shane Watson, Ross Taylor, Rahul Dravid
Dark Horse: Deepak Chahar, Jacob Oram, Ashok Meneria
Group A: Group A: Mumbai Indians

   Chennai Super Kings:
   MS Dhoni’s yellow army had a perfect 2010 season where they won the IPL and the CLT20. The onus is upon them to make their owners proud again. The owners too haven’t played much with the team balance. They tried hard to buy back as many players from their previous winning combination. In the process they seemed to have over priced some of their own players and bought them at a premium if not more. They did lose some of their talent like L Balaji, Muralitharan, Parthiv Patel and did not go for Jacob Oram or Mathew Hayden. Their new additions were pretty impressive but injuries seemed to have plagued them just before the tournament. Bravo, Hilfenhaus, Bailey, Bollinger the main accused. They have found solace in Southee and Tharanga who seemed to have put their best suit on during the WC. T20 is an altogether different ball game, a change in mind set. So, far no team has been able to defend their title successfully. Let’s see if the champs still have it in them.
Captain: MS Dhoni
Players Retained: MS Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Albie Morkel, Murali Vijay
Key Players: R Ashwin, Mike Hussey, Suresh Raina
Dark Horse: Tim Southee, Suraj Randiv, Abhinav Mukund  
Group A: Pune Warriors India

   Kochi Tuskers Kerala:
   The newbie in Group B will have a tough task in their debut season against the seasoned pros like CSK and RCB. They had some over the roof bidding technique throughout the auctioning. The pattern was tougher to crack than the Da Vinci Code. They did end up with a strong domestic bowlers list and some key hitters from the foreign buys. Murali's fitness will be alarming but they will be hoping he's fit for some part of the tournament. The only team which can accomodate VVS with a Brendon McCullum then add Muralitharan with a Steve Smith a little bit of Romesh Powar and top it off with Ravindra Jadeja... and well of course the home grown Sreesanth. WOW!! Whether the odd mixture gels well, will be keenly studied.
Captain: Mahela Jayawardene
Players Retained: Not Applicable
Key Players: Muralitharan, Brendon McCullum, RP Singh
Dark Horse: John Hastings, Kedar Jadhav, Vinay Kumar
Group A: Delhi Daredevils

   It seems the Group B is well stacked with 2 former champions. Unlike Pune Warriors, Kochi Tuskers have their hands full and don’t look all that deadly to handle. Since it isn’t about topping Group A and Group B separately the ten teams will realize they cannot afford slip ups. The top 4 will only make the cut and there are no consolation prizes. That’s that then, wishing you all a fun-tastic and fooper IPL. The entertainment just got a little dirty!
p.s. - Who are your key players to watch out for in the IPL4. Share with us in the comments section. Cheers!

April 7, 2011

IPL Season 4 - Group A Preview

   Deccan Chargers:
   DC, the only team in Group A to have won the IPL. No players retained but, they did buy Ojha back in the player auction. They spent big  money on key names like Steyn and surprisingly Cam White! They were fairly lucky to loot many players on Sale! like Rusty Theron, Amit Mishra, Shikhar Dhawan, JP Duminy. New look to the team starting with a new captain, King Kumar. Looks slightly brittle on the domestic batting which means the foreign buys will be the key when it comes to batting. KP's absence due to his hernia means Cam White and JP Duminy will have to Charge up quickly. Overall, having Mishra and Ojha will be a great advantage over most teams.
Captain: Kumar Sangakkara
Players Retained: Nil
Key Players: Dale Steyn, Pragyan Ojha, JP Duminy
Dark Horse: Dan Christian, Kedar Devdhar, Ishant Sharma
Group B: Kolkata Knight Riders (to be played home and away)

   Delhi Daredevils:
   Daredvils retained only Virender Sehwag from their previous squad. A trick missed perhaps as they could not manage to buy back most of their key performers like AB De Villiers, Dilshan, Vettori, Nannes. Spent a whooping 1.9 m$ on  Irfan Pathan who's not even sure to be fit. They do not have any big names in their squad barring David Warner and Morne Morkel not even the domestic players. Clearly DD are the dark horse for this season as they have key individuals who are not too popular with the Indian crowd. Names such as Aaron Finch, Mathew Wade and upcoming Indian talent like Umesh Yadav, Dinda, Naman Ojha. And also some ex-fame players like S.Sriram, Venu Rao, Irfan Pathan, Salvi, Ajit Agarkar Geez!! Will be important to see who's their frontline spinner (Yogesh Nagar??). Since they dint pick anyone in the auctions.
Captain: Virender Sehwag
Players Retained: Virender Sehwag
Key Players: Morne Morkel, David Warner, Ajit Agarkar (Duh!)
Dark Horse: Aaron Finch, Irfan Pathan, Naman Ojha
Group B: Kochi Tuskers Kerala

   Kings XI Punjab:
   Zintans have had a rough time both during the IPL and the off-season. From being almost kicked out to running around court rooms they're releaved to be featuring in the IPL. Sadly, it is due to the harakiri they said they couldn't retain their players. But, their auction journey was a sleep walk. They had no clue what was happening. Injuries to Praveen Kumar, Stuart Broad and Dimmi Mascarenhas wont help them either although they have signed Ryan McLaren and David Miller as cover. Australians will be the core in this team with Gilly, Hussey, Marsh, Harris. Familiar Indians in the form of Dinesh Karthik, Piyush chawla will be vital to their fortunes.
Captain: Adam Gilchrist
Players Retained: Nil
Key Players: David Hussey, Praveen Kumar, Dinesh Karthik
Dark Horse: Abhishek Nayar, Ryan Harris, Nathan Rimmington
Group B: Royal Challengers Bangalore

   Mumbai Indians:
   The runner-up in the previous season, the mighty Mumbai Indians have retained the solid core and replaced a few parts here and there. Their auction presence was poor, they didn't put up a fight for most of the auctioning. And then they were clearly unhappy with last minute changes in the auction procedure. Nevertheless, they look a formidable unit with some smart buys during the auction in the form of Symonds, Davy Jacobs, Blizzard, Rohit Sharma and easily getting some of the best domestic crop like T Suman, Rayudu. With SRT in the side and leading them it wasn't too difficult to get some ripe talent from across India. With Pollard, Malinga, Bhajji retained their core strength looks retained!
Captain: Sachin Tendulkar
Players Retained: Sachin Tendulkar, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh
Key Players: Andrew Symonds, Rohit Sharma, see list above.
Dark Horse: Davy Jacobs, Aiden Blizzard, T Suman
Group B: Rajasthan Royals

   Pune Warriors India:
   The newbie in Group A looked very impressive during the players auctioning. They went big but, very cautiously almost similar to the Chargers and found some balance in their squad. They stuck to the plan and got some key names in their franchisee. Along with that some vital domestic players were added outside the auctions that makes them a notable opposition although it is only their IPL debut this season. Injury to Angelo Mathews will keep them hunting for the right balance to their team. As such some big domestic names like Yuraj, Robin, Pandey, Nehra, Murali Kartik, Mithun Manhas and foreign imports like Smith, Nathan McCullum, Tim Paine, Ryder, Parnell, Ferguson and the lesser known Kamran Khan, Jhunjhunwala, Mitch Marsh, Mohnish, Rahul will bring about a solid mix to the franchisee's hopes of making an impact in the IPL.
Captain: Yuvraj Singh
Players Retained: Not Applicable
Key Players: Robin Uthapa, Ashish  Nehra, Graeme Smith
Dark Horse: Nathan McCullum, Tim Paine, Callum Ferguson, Dheeraj Jadhav, Kamran Khan
Group B: Chennai Super Kings

   These were the teams from Group A that will be contesting for the IPL Champions' fame and glory. Not much to choose between them but, MI, DC look formidable and DD the dark horse from this group. But the new addition of Pune Warriors India will be the focus. They look well balanced to upset many experienced oppositions. Wont be surprised if KxiP struggle this season as well. For Group B preview keep tuning in.
p.s. - Who are your key players to watch out for in the IPL4. Share with us in the comments section. Cheers!

April 6, 2011

IPL Season 4 Opener

  Its that time of the year again.. you know, "DLF maximums", "Karbonn Kamaal Catch", "Citi moment of Success" yada yada all that crap sans Modi cam err.. Lalit K Modi. Well, what's new then? Primarily the tournament is bigger with 10 teams now in the fray and the format is as complex as the Benedict–Webb–Rubin equation, if not more. You know.. split into two groups then play home and away games with teams in their group and a random draw to pick the team to play twice from the opposite group and play the rest of the teams once.. Then the Playoffs for the finals. Phew!! If you're still reading this, either that made complete sense to you or you are waiting for the Benedict–Webb–Rubin reference to appear in this post somewhere. In the case of the latter please stop reading now! Thank you, for those now searching for some IPL hungama can continue reading.

   Two new franchises Sahara Group owned Pune Warriors India and Rendezvous Sports World Kochi Cricket Pvt Ltd. owned Kochi Tuskers Kerala. Yes, the tradition of picking crappy team names is still very much evident. Somethings that keep the IPL very Indian indeed. Along with new teams the existing 8 teams were busy at the auctions buying players since the existing 3 year deal for all teams went *poof*. All franchisee owners were allowed to retain a maximum of 4 players (2 foreigners max). The first player retained will cost a team $1.8 million against the salary cap of $9 million, regardless of the amount the player is actually paid. The second player will cost $1.3 million, the third $900,000 and the fourth $500,000. Using all four retention options will mean that a franchise will have only $4.5m to spend on 26 other players. IPL season 3 champions CSK and runner-up MI were the only two teams to retain 4 players each. Where as, season 2 champs DC, KKR, KxiP did not retain even a single player. DD, RCB retained 1 player each and RR the inaugural season winners retained 2 players.

Players Retained:

  • CSK - MS Dhoni (Ind), Suresh Raina (Ind), Murali Vijay (Ind), Albie Morkel (RSA)
  • MI - SR Tendulkar (ind), Harbhajan Singh (Ind), Lasith Malinga (SL), Kieron Pollard (WI)
  • RR - Shane Warne (Aus), Shane Watson (Aus)
  • DD - Virender Sehwag (Ind)
  • RCB - Virat Kohli (Ind)
 In the players auctioning things seemingly went very ugly. Some key highlights of the auctions can be seen HERE. The 10 teams have been split into two groups A and B.

Group A Group B
Deccan Chargers Kolkata Knight Riders
Delhi Daredevils Kochi Tuskers Kerala
Kings XI Punjab Royal Challengers Bangalore
Mumbai Indians Rajasthan Royals
Pune Warriors India Chennai Super Kings

   Coming up next will be the "Team Previews" before the "maha yudh" starts. So dont forget to catch all the action-reactions right here!

April 5, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 *Dream Team*

   Well of course, the World Cup 2011 is over and well of course you know who won it. Well of course Team India. April 2, 2011 will be etched in every Indian's heart. Kapil's Devils wont be shown on TV lifting the cup anymore or not as frequent. The Blue men have shoved up the critics's ___ in style. We couldn't have asked for a better climax. Dhoni's helicopter hit meant that he will feature in the PEPSI ads for lifetime. Anyways, back to business. This world cup had everything a cricket lover would want. Its time for us to pick the dream team, i.e a team which every captain would love to have.
WARNING: Selection criteria purely based on World Cup performance .

  • Dilshan (SL):- Scoring the most runs in this world cup (500), he is in by default. Not to forget  his attacking batting, more than handy bowling and brilliant fielding .
  • Tendulkar (Ind):- "In God We Trust" However well the team may perform, they always believe in GOD, so do we. Also with 482 runs under his belt and 2 top notch centuries, Sachin pairs up with Dilshan in the opening slot.

Middle Order
  • Trott (Eng):- He has been the mainstay of English batting. Consistent, calm, courageous. 5 fifty's in 7 innings, his lack of 3-digit score was the only flaw in his WC campaign. Its only because of him (and some Irish luck) England reached till the quarters at least. His almost perfect technique, cautious approach makes him a perfect no.3.
  • De Villiers (SA):- He's one man who can up the ante anytime. His batting is a mix of caution and aggression. Brilliant fielder at any position of the field. He scored at a S.R. more than 100 and averaged 88.25 only second to King Kumar. It was tough to choose between Sangakkara and ABCD  so, we had to toss and since there was no cheating re-toss De Villiers was our pick.
  • Yuvraj (Ind):- Coming into the world cup with negative confidence, his performance in this edition shut the mouths of many. Chipping in with the ball initially, his confidence meter improved with every match and it showed in his batting and mainly on the field. We got glimpses of Vintage UV on the field during the finals. He pinned down the other nominations of the  Man of the Series hands down.
  • MS Dhoni © (Ind):- Do you need any explanation on why he features in the Dream Team? Moving on...
  • Afridi (Pak):- Yes, his batting was dud but he overcame it with his magnificent bowling where he ran through the middle order of the opposition in most of the matches. 2 5-wicket hauls and 2 4-wicket hauls his strike rate was 21.2 balls per wicket and averaged 12.85. Also, Pakistan's only safe pair of hands this world cup.
Tail-enders Bowlers
  • Southee (NZ):- Wonder kid of New Zealand. He made wonders with the ball picking up 18 wickets @ 17.33 per wicket. He picked up wickets in all the matches and his economy rate was also exceptional.
  • Zaheer (Ind):- He was Dhoni's 'go-to' man this world cup and he never disappointed . He has improved a lot on his control of the ball. He was instrumental in breaking partnerships in the power plays or applying brakes to the scoring he's done it all.
  • Malinga (SL):- He's a captains dream. He picked up wickets whenever he bowled.Again was tough to choose between Umar Gul but, the sheer accuracy and consistency of hitting the block-hole in the world cup earned Slinga Malinga a spot here.
  • Tahir :- South Africa's import find of the decade. An almost perfect leg spinner with lot of varieties and mainly tons of confidence. With an average of 10.71 per wicket and Strike Rate of 16.9 he would be leader of the spin pack  perfect support to Afridi in this team.

12th Man
Sangakkara (SL):- Averaged 93 with the bat. Was the third highest run accumulator getting 465 runs. Was amazing behind the wickets as he was in front. Captaincy wasn't 100% though. And he lost out to AB De Villiers.

Close Calls
Andrew Strauss, Umar Akmal, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Upul Tharanga, Robin Peterson, Umar Gul, Muralitharan, Kemar Roach, Brett Lee, Jacob Oram, Graeme Swann, Dale Steyn.

April 1, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011 - Grand Finale : India Vs Sri Lanka

Two warriors, who will emerge victorious???

   After a long journey through the world cup, the teams have arrived at the final destination where 1 team will lift the up and celebrate and other team will have just the commiserations. It is again an India - Sri Lanka encounter. Man, aren't they bored of facing each other??? They  have played exceedingly well and they thoroughly deserve their spot in the finals. Both the teams must be on a HIGH after thumping their opponents in the QF and SF. Wankhede is supposed to be a square turner and we should not be surprised if the captains fill their armory with spinners.

   They have cruised through the groups, quarters and semis. They made minced meat of Poms in the QF and ran through the Kiwis except for the glitch where they lost 4 wickets quickly. Their team overall has looked brilliant. Their openers have been setting up a great platform for the middle order. Both their batsmen have scored 350 + runs in this edition. Jaya'dene has not in form this tournament, but its highly likely that he would come to form against the Indians. Though Murali is not fit, its 100% sure that he would
 play the finals. The SL physios would try their best to get Murali back to his springing best. If Mathews doesn't recover in time for the finals. The Lankan lower order becomes more brittle, whether they opt for Perera for his batting services of Kulasekara for his better bowling skills will be a tough choice to make. Lankans have called in Randiv and the epic Warnakulasuriya Patabendige Ushantha Joseph Chaminda Vaas as backup players. Maybe they are trying to bring back older players to remind Indians of the 1996 WC. Given a chance, they would even call DeSilva, J'suriya, Ranatunga et.al. Vaas, playing in for Mathews is a bluff if I can read it right. Dilhara Fernando available why look further?

   INDIA :
   For majority of the Indian Population, the world cup is all about India beating Pakistan. Now if you think it doesn't matter much what happens in the finals, you are wrong! MSD surprised everybody by playing Nehra over Ashwin against Pakistan, and luckily for him it paid off really well. It should have been a very tricky decision for MSD on who to drop to rope in Ashwin, thanks to Nehra for injuring himself  and  making it easier for MSD now. India Pakistan encounter was an alarm for the Indian batsmen, mainly the middle order barring Raina which crumbled to quality bowling. Once again MSD's form with the bat has been begging.  The opening on the other hand has been tremendous, Seh-whack and Sachin have gone after the bowlers irrespective of the opposition. Their bowling which was under a lot of pressure during the group stages, but they have stood up to the occasion in crunch situations. They have been very disciplined, their first wide was in the 37th over and no no-balls were offered to the Stanis.

Men Who Matter: 

SL - Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Malinga, Murali 
IND - Sachin, Sehwag, Yuvraj, Zaheer, Harbhajan

Key Battles :
  • Murali Vs Sachin :
  World's best bowler to the World's best batsman. Both teams would go Full Monty to try and give the perfect swan song they truly deserve. Sadly, one of them will have to go back empty handed. Although, it is not evident that Sachin will retire for sure. He's God right? God's dont retire or go for holidays or need time off.
  • Sehwag Vs Malinga :
  We saw how Sehwag dented  one of the Pakistan's best bowler, Umar Gul. Malinga , as usual has been at his best most of the times, not giving away anything to the batsmen. This battle would be interesting to see who gets a the last laugh.
  • Dilshan Vs Zaheer :
  Dilshan is the Lankan version of Sehwag, a time bomb ready to explode. Zaheer, has been the linch pin for the Indian bowling for quite a while. Both teams will be looking to get an ideal start in the big match.

Numbers Game :
* Dilshan is the leading run getter in the world cup. Three runs more than SRT.
* SRT holds the record for most runs in world cup games - over 2000(2260).
* Sri Lanka leads India 4-2 in world cups. Last time SL bt Ind by 69 runs knocking them out of the 2007 world cup.
* Overall India leads Sri Lanka 67-50. At home India leads 28-11 over the Lankans.
* Both teams are playing in their 3rd WC finals. Winning 1 and Losing 1. Both Lost their finals to Australia in 2003 and 2007 respectively.
* Sachin averages 45.61 against the Lankans scoring close to 3000(2965) runs in 78 matches.
* Murali averages 31.25 against the Indians picking 74 wickets in 58 innings.
* Indian batsmen has notched 16 50+ scores in the tournament so far against Sri Lanka's 14 such scores.
* Sri Lankan batsmen has notched 6 100+ scores in the tournament so far against India's 5 such scores.
* Teams batting first hold the edge in Wankhede 11-6. Also, both teams lost to Australia in the WC finals chasing.

   A match that could redefine most of their lives, transform them into heroes. 100 overs to fight for anything they have dreamed for, aspired to achieve growing up. Lankans play disciplined cricket, fight hard till the last ball and have produced consistent results. Indians on the other have played crunch games and have beaten some of the top teams or gone down in the final moments. There could be no bigger stage set for the finals. Dhoni or Sangakkara both captains, both wicket keepers both have immense belief in their squads. But, the similarities must end here. As only one can emerge champion. And so is the fate of this game. Even a warrior must accept defeat with pride. Come saturday Wankhede will be a Colosseum, bull-ring, battle field all wrapped in one. Loud chants will go numb and heart beats will get loud. Whether Sri Lanka will upset a billion hearts or it is not just a mere co-incidence that the 1983 calendar and 2011 are similar?