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Page last updated at 15:23 GMT, Friday, 1 April 2011 16:23 UK

Cricket World Cup: Excitement mounts in Mumbai

By Nitin Srinivastava
BBC Hindi

India's financial capital Mumbai is all geared up to host the Cricket World Cup final between hosts India and Sri Lanka.

India's encounter with arch-rivals Pakistan in Mohali was billed as the battle of the decade but the grand finale with Sri Lanka is being termed as a turning-point for the subcontinent.

India fan
An Indian fan has her hair braided into a replica of the World Cup trophy

It is the first time in the history of this sport that a World Cup final will feature two South Asian teams.

Meanwhile the Mumbai Cricket Association and the Maharashtra police are not leaving any stone unturned.

More than 10,000 security personnel will guard the seaside Wankhede Stadium located off Mumbai's famous Marine drive. Estimates suggest that more than 32,000 fans will witness the finals on Saturday.

The stadium itself resembles a fortress as hundreds of patrol vehicles and barricades have been put up in advance and Indian Navy and coastguard patrol boats can bee seen sailing to and from the historic Taj Hotel to ensure security for both the teams' staying there.

Meanwhile the excitement is reaching fever pitch across the city. Restaurants are ready to cash in on the craze by offering special packages for those unable to manage to buy a ticket for the match.

The commercial capital of India is known as the city that never sleeps - a line that Mumbaikars are sure to live up to. After the pulsating semi-final against Pakistan, the excitement has only escalated.

In terms of popularity rating, the India-Sri Lanka final may not get the same outpouring as the India-Pakistan semi-final played on Wednesday at Mohali, but it promises to attract a lot of interest, given the hysteria surrounding the game in the subcontinent.

A caravan of politicians, corporate czars, film stars and socialites will head towards Mumbai to see India take on neighbours' Sri Lanka.

The cricketers who will be involved spent most part of Friday at the nets at the Wankhede stadium to acclimatise to the pitch and weather conditions. After the tough practice session, Indian captain Mahendra Dhoni warned Sri Lanka his team was yet to play its best cricket.

"There is plenty more to come from us," Dhoni said. "We gained momentum as the tournament went on and we are now peaking at the right time."

Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara told reporters India will carry the "weight of expectation".

He said India had been "tagged as the favourites by almost everyone" and that "they'll be looking at themselves as favourites too."

Whatever the outcome, one thing which strikes me the most is the resurgence of 50-over-a-side one-day cricket in these parts.

Not far ago cricket pundits and journalists had written off this format of the game as Indian Premier League, featuring Twenty20 cricket, had gained a foothold.

But the hysteria and hype this tournament has garnered is going to be remembered for many more years to come.

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see also
Myth or man?
01 Apr 11 |  India
Muralitharan set to defy injury
02 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Mumbai awaits World Cup showpiece
01 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Agnew on the World Cup final
01 Apr 11 |  Cricket
Cricket boosts South Asian ties
31 Mar 11 |  South Asia
A fan's view: Madness in Mohali
31 Mar 11 |  South Asia
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
Cricket World Cup 2011
09 Mar 11 |  Cricket

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