India may have lost the last league game against South Africa, but their confidence has not been dented. Hours before his second final in the space of a month, Sourav Ganguly said: "One-day cricket is all about who plays well on a particular day. South Africa played better and were deserving winners, but then the final is going to be a different game." Absence and injury have affected the Indian cause, though. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Javagal Srinath, Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra all opted to sit out this tournament. Zaheer Khan, Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag and Ganguly himself have all been injured during it.
Yuvraj, who was down with flu, and Sehwag, who was struck on the forearm by a snorter from Makhaya Ntini in the last match, have recovered and are likely to play. Zaheer has recovered from his hamstring strain, but has since caught a virus and may sit out the final.
"Ours is a fairly inexperienced side and the players are just about getting a hang of things," Ganguly said. Some of the newcomers - Avishkar Salvi and Gautam Gambhir in particular - have come good on this tour, and India's bench strength has looked impressive.
South Africa also has a new-look team, under a new captain, and Graeme Smith has gained in confidence as the tournament has progressed. Smith's decision to deny Shaun Pollock of the new ball in the first two league games had backfired, but he was quick to learn from his mistakes and reinstate Pollock at the top of the bowling order.
"I would have made mistakes during the tournament but I think I'm learning my lessons fast," Smith said. "Pollock has been really hungry with the new ball."
Pollock had seemed upset on the field during the first game when he was made to bowl fifth change, and was relieved, as were most South Africans, when he was asked to open the bowling again. "I really enjoy bowling with the new ball," he said, "Having opened the bowling almost right through my career ... I was happy at being entrusted with the job once again."