April 1, 2011

ICC World Cup 2011

Tough entree for tasty main course

Akhila Ranganna

India may have scraped and scratched their way to the World Cup final, writes Peter Roebuck in the Sydney Morning Herald, but sometimes even the best and most attractive teams have to win ugly. It is all set up now for a contest between two attractive teams and two great veterans, Murali and Tendulkar.

India owed their victory more to the mistakes of their opponents than to any inspiration of their own. It was a day of graft and gruel. But it was not only the pitch. It was a semi-final of a World Cup. Glory was so near and so far. And the chance might not come again.

David Leggat in the New Zealand Herald asks: was India's 29-run win at Mohali a bullet-dodging moment en route to a second World Cup title to follow 1983?

They have had their thin-ice days during the cup, but this time, with what seemed like most of Asia looking on, they hung on as Pakistan failed to grasp a wonderful opportunity. Pakistan's botched job leaves Sri Lanka as the only team between India and glory; of preventing MS Dhoni following the great Kapil Dev as the second Indian to lift the trophy.

Patrick Kidd in the Times writes that the World Cup he finalists have a lot in common, apart from being only the second and third hosts of a World Cup to reach the deciding match, after England in 1979.

Sri Lanka's openers in this tournament have the fireworks, but they also have staying power. Tillekeratne Dilshan is the competition's leading run-scorer with 467 at a strike-rate of 93 that seems impossibly pedestrian compared with Jayasuriya.

India's openers have been similarly effective, although they have taken it in turns to fire, with an average stand of 61 to the Sri Lankans' 112.

The ICC believes that this World Cup has breathed life into the 50-over format, miraculously this World Cup has managed to conjure precisely the right pairing in India and Sri Lanka, the main hosts, but Stephen Brenkley in the Independent writes that there is still reason to be sceptical about the life of this format.

It's all come down to the batsman who has made more runs than anyone against the bowler who has taken more wickets than anyone in this World Cup final, writes Ron Reed in the Herald Sun.

Even though there will be 10 other talented combatants on each side, if either of these two megastars defeats the other, it is highly probable it will determine the outcome.

Millions in India believe that that victory in World Cup final is India's destiny, writes Dileep Premachandran in the Guardian.

Derek Pringle in the Daily Telegraph writes that while the whole of India is celebrating their team's entry into the World Cup final, spare a thought or two for coach Gary Kirsten and his assistants who have played a key role in making this happen.

Muttiah Muralitharan is a magician whose prestige will never fade, writes Mike Selvey in the Guardian and given all that he has been through, he deserves to end his superb career as a World Cup finalist.

In two decades, Sachin Tendulkar has been both symbol of a resurgent India, writes Suresh Menon on BBC Sport and on the eve of the World Cup final all Tendulkar's fans ask for is that India win the title, and that Tendulkar himself score his 100th international century.

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Akhila Ranganna is assistant editor (Audio) at ESPNcricinfo

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