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Images: India, Sri Lanka brace for World Cup final

Last updated on: April 1, 2011 18:00 IST

One step away from glory

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Armed with the wishes of millions of passionate fans and a never-say-die spirit, India are just one win away from crowning themselves the ODI world champions after almost 28 years as they clash with an equally determined Sri Lanka in the first all-Asian cricket World Cup summit showdown in Mumbai on Saturday.

- World Cup coverage

Both India and Sri Lanka, two Asian giants who have played against each other frequently in recent times, have won the coveted trophy once each and will leave no stone unturned to regain the Cup.

Though there is little to choose between the two teams, India will fancy their chances of putting it across the islanders as they are playing at home and are peaking at the right time after a rather patchy beginning to their campaign.


Image: MS Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara pose with the World Cup trophy at Wankhede Stadium
Photographs: Getty Images
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Injury concerns for both teams

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Both the teams have some injury concerns ahead of the grand finale. It will be a swansong match for Muttiah Muralitharan, who is racing against time to recover from a knee injury.

The home team has suffered a jolt ahead of the game with Ashish Nehra, who bowled well in the high-voltage semi-final clash against Pakistan in Mohali, being virtually ruled out because of a finger injury.

Similarly, Sri Lanka have injury concerns over Muralitharan and all-rounder Angelo Matthews and have called in Suraj Randiv and Chaminda Vaas as cover.


Image: India's Ashish Nehra
Photographs: Reuters
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Peaking at the right time

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The Indians are peaking at the right time having prevailed over defending champions Australia in the quarters and arch-rivals Pakistan in a high-voltage semi-final but it remains to be seen whether they can pull it off when it matters the most.

Captain Dhoni has warned his teammates not to get distracted by the excessive hype surrounding their World Cup campaign and just focus on the job at hand.


Image: India's Harbhajan Singh during a practice session in Mumbai
Photographs: Getty Images
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Both teams are even on paper

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Both the teams appear to be well-balanced on paper though the islanders certainly have a more potent bowling attack, particularly with the presence of spin wizard Muralitharan who will be keen to make an impression in his swansong game.

Indians have a formidable batting line-up and most of them are quite adept in dealing with spin, Muralitharan is a wily customer and will find a way to put pressure on the batsmen if he takes the field on the morrow.

The home team will look to Tendulkar and the flamboyant Virender Sehwag to provide a rollicking start and set the platform for the middle-order to take India to a decent total at the Wankhede stadium track which is expected to suit the batsmen.

Tendulkar has been in good form right through the tournament with 464 runs and his fans will be hoping that he achieves the phenomenal milestone of scoring his 100th international century at his home ground.

Yuvraj, who is having a dream World Cup and has already won a record four man-of-the-match awards, will have a key role to play since he is the player in form both with the bat and ball.


Image: India's Virender Sehwag during a practice session in Mumbai
Photographs: Getty Images
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Sri Lanka holds a better record in World Cups

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The Sri Lankans, on the other hand, have a settled look to their squad and definitely have the resources to spoil India's party.

Their top batsmen -- Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Upul Tharanga and Mahela Jayawardene -- have all been among the runs.

Sri Lanka have played four One-dayers at this venue, including a league match in this tournament against New Zealand. Out of those four, they have won two and lost two.

Sri Lanka had been beaten by India and defeated them once each in their first two encounters at the ground in 1986-87 and 1996-97.

In two other non-India games, the Lankans were beaten by the West Indies in 1993, while they defeated New Zealand earlier this month.


Image: Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan during a training session in Mumbai
Photographs: Getty Images
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Unprecedented security at the Wankhede

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An unprecedented three-tier security cover to maintain vigil over land, air and water has been put in place in the metropolis, turning it into a fortress, ahead of Saturday's World Cup final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede stadium.

President Pratibha Patil and her Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa will watch the grand finale of cricket's biggest extravaganza at the 32,000-capacity stadium.

Apart from Mumbai Police, personnel of National Security Guards, Maharashtra's elite Force One, Rapid Action Force, State Reserve Police Force and Quick Response Team are maintaining a strict vigil at the venue.

"Nearly 5,000 security men have been deployed for the mega event as part of unprecedented security measures, that I have never seen before in my career. The security men and staff of stadium and the organisers would be issued biometric bar coded access cards," Mumbai Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik said.


Image: Security guards outside the Wandkede stadium
Photographs: Getty Images
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Taufel, Dar to officiate in final

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Australia's Simon Taufel, a winner of five consecutive ICC Umpire of the Year awards, and Pakistan's Aleem Dar will be the on-field officials for World Cup final.

New Zealand's Jeff Crowe has been named the match referee, with England's Ian Gould and Steve Davis of Australia the third and fourth umpires respectively.

India and Sri Lanka have met seven times in World Cups. Sri Lanka leads the win-loss record 4-2, with one no-result.


Image: Umpires Aleem Dar Simon Taufel during a training session in Mumbai
Photographs: Getty Images
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