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Jonathan Agnew on the Cricket World Cup final

ICC Cricket World Cup final: India v Sri Lanka
Venue: Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai Date: Saturday, 2 April Start: 1000 BST Coverage: Live Test Match Special commentary on BBC 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio 4 LW and BBC Sport website from 0930 BST. Highlights on BBC Two (2325), Red Button/website (2200), Freeview (2230). Text commentary on BBC Sport website & mobiles. Live on Sky Sports

Captains Kumar Sangakkara and Mahendra Dhoni
For the first time in a World Cup final both captains are also wicketkeepers

Jonathan Agnew
By Jonathan Agnew
BBC cricket correspondent

The World Cup final will be a terrific day, with a magnificent carnival atmosphere and two very attractive teams.

I do not think that India are nailed on to win, although they will start as favourites.

Sri Lanka are very organised and well drilled, they play well on slow pitches, and it should be a close game.

I also do not think they will be phased by what is likely to be a hostile, volatile occasion, as they are used to big crowds.

OPENERS

India's opening partnership is the most intimidating in world cricket.

Virender Sehwag can tear any attack apart. He is audacious, takes risks and has fantastic hand/eye co-ordination.

Then, at the other end is Sachin Tendulkar, who is quite simply the best batsman in the world.

He just gets on and plays, and sets out to bat through the innings and score a hundred.

I think Sehwag and Tendulkar will outgun the Sri Lankan opening pair, who are of course not bad players themselves!

Tillakaratne Dilshan is innovative and scores quickly, while Upul Tharanga is neat and well organised - and left handed. It is always useful to have a left/right hand combination.

My concern for Dilshan and Tharanga is that they have played almost entirely on Sri Lankan pitches in the tournament and will not be so used to the subtle differences in the wicket, the ball coming on to the bat a bit more.

MIDDLE ORDER

Much has been said about Sri Lanka's over-reliance on Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene - and why would you not rely on them, they are two outstanding players.

Their top four have all scored hundreds but Thilan Samaraweera and Chamara Silva further down do not have the same aura about them.

TEST MATCH SPECIAL BLOG
TMS producer Adam Mountford picks his team of the World Cup

So Sri Lanka's potential fallibility is their comparative lack of depth, but any team's batting would look inferior when matched up to India, who bat massively from one to seven or eight.

Yuvraj Singh may have got a first baller in the semi-final but he is quite capable of scoring hundreds. Virat Kohli is a silky player who has impressed me very much and Suresh Raina has made some very useful runs in a period of immense pressure against Pakistan.

I have seen India quite a few times and I still do not think I have seen them at their best yet, but they have batsmen for all occasions and that is why I considered them favourites for the tournament before it began because they play well on these pitches.

LOWER ORDER

Sri Lanka have the longer tail. Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis are pretty hopeless with the bat, whereas India counterparts Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan can bat a bit.

It could well be that batting resources are stretched on these slow and helpful pitches but I like the sides made up of proper batsmen and bowlers rather than bits and pieces players.

SEAM ATTACK

Both teams could claim to have the leading bowler in one-day cricket.

Sri Lanka's Lasith Malinga, who has taken 11 wickets from six matches, has reverse swing, yorkers and a hard action to pick, and has bowled at good pace.

Zaheer Khan (left), Lasith Malinga
Another intriguing match-up will be between the two top pacemen

For India, Zaheer Khan has 19 wickets from eight games and needs three more to eclipse Shahid Afridi as the tournament's most successful bowler.

Zaheer is very wily, the left-arm angle causes problems. He too can get reverse swing, mixes up his pace well, bowls an excellent slower ball, has yorkers and is very aggressive.

It will be fascinating to see the two pacemen go head-to-head.

Neither have much in the way of support. India's Munaf Patel bowls wicket to wicket but is not likely to rip through a side, while for Sri Lanka it might be Angelo Mathews or Nuwan Kulasekara. Support seam bowling, however, is not really either team's strength and not what they focus on.

CAPTAINS/WICKETKEEPERS

Sangakkara is the better wicketkeeper. India's Mahendra Dhoni is not a top keeper by any means, he is a quiet customer off the field but definitely has a charismatic presence on it.

People are starting to ask why Dhoni is not scoring any runs or really coming up with any answers at the moment but he is quite capable of a useful score on the big occasion.

Sangakkara is a class act on and off the field. He is polished, speaks beautifully to the media and is a player of the highest quality.

SPIN ATTACK

Will there be a famous farewell for Murali on his swansong? Watching him bowl against England it did look as though his hamstring injury was affecting him but he remains a brilliant bowler.

Sri Lanka are not so reliant on him these days though, they have Mendis, who can also be magical, and they could well have four spinners with Dilshan and Rangana Herath, who both perform important roles with the ball.

Both sides will look to get through the overs quickly and build pressure. It promises to be a great contest.

Jonathan Agnew was speaking to BBC Sport's Jamie Lillywhite



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see also
Muralitharan set to defy injury
01 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Myth or man?
01 Apr 11 |  India
Mumbai awaits World Cup showpiece
01 Apr 11 |  Cricket
India beat Pakistan to make final
30 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Win was like a final - Harbhajan
31 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Sri Lanka edge NZ to reach final
29 Mar 11 |  Cricket
Tillakaratne Dilshan World Cup column
29 Mar 11 |  Sri Lanka
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket


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