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This World Cup belongs to the side that can hold its nerve when the opponent attacks

The final is a delicious prospect. If it is competitive, it could be a cliffhanger

Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Main men: Mohammed Shami and Virat Kohli have been the pillars of India's dominance of the World Cup so far  •  Associated Press

Main men: Mohammed Shami and Virat Kohli have been the pillars of India's dominance of the World Cup so far  •  Associated Press

The main aim of an elite tournament like the men's 50-over World Cup is to have the two best teams reach the final after a competitive and exhausting round-robin fixture list.
The organisers of this year's tournament will have been over the moon when the favourites - home team India - skated to victory in the first semi-final. More wishes were then granted when the second-best side, Australia, finding form at the appropriate time, slipped into the final after South Africa faltered in typical style to lose a nail-biting second semi-final.
As ordered, the two best teams are in the final, though sadly the round-robin part was not ultra-competitive. Now what we - all but the hometown pundits, perhaps - hope for will be a finale fitting for the occasion.
India start favourites as the best all-round side, and they also boast both the leading run-maker, the commanding Virat Kohli, and wicket-taker, the metronomical Mohammed Shami.
Australia are worthy opponents. In Mitchell Starc they have not only a proven wicket-taker but also a bowler whose left-arm variety has troubled Kohli. In David Warner and Travis Head, Australia possess an explosive opening partnership who will test the nerve of India's formidable new-ball attack. In the middle order is Glenn Maxwell, an extraordinary power player, who can be either an unstoppable match-winner or a rank disappointment, in each case utilising exactly the same method.
Both teams have batters who can explode and post an almost impossible target, but equally, the two sides possess strong bowling attacks capable of restricting their opponents to an attainable target.
This is a mouth-watering match-up of the two best teams in the tournament.
Perhaps it's too much to hope that a well-balanced pitch is prepared that purely follows the instructions of the local groundsman. If that were to happen, it would be ideal, provided the pesky dew then played no part in the end result.
The team that wins the coin flip should consider batting first in hopes of both putting a solid target on the board and also consigning their opponents to fielding in the heat of the afternoon. The last thing either India or Australia want is to be chasing a daunting target like the one New Zealand faced in their semi-final.
One factor that will play a big part in deciding the final will be the nerve of each team's main bowlers. The team that holds its nerve best when the other side chooses full attack mode will go a long way towards winning the match.
Bowling for wickets rather than seeking containment is a must, as is continuing to look for wickets in the middle overs. If a team is bowling to their opponent's best batters in the final overs of the innings, it is destined to be facing a large target.
This is where Australia, known to falter against good spin bowling, have a weakness India will be keen to exploit. Australia will have to overcome that vulnerability if they are to prevail in the final.
Equally, Australia know if they can blast out a few top-order batters, it will curb India's desire to attack, as they have an acknowledged fragile last four. This is where Australia's prodigious pace attack of Starc, the relentless Josh Hazlewood, and the inspirational Pat Cummins need to be at their best with the two new balls.
It's likely that India captain Rohit Sharma will try, as he has done in the past, to set the pattern by orchestrating a fast start. If Australia are superb in the field, as they were against South Africa, this will make Rohit's task more difficult.
If the final is competitive it will boil down to a nail-biting cliff-hanger, which is exactly what you should expect from the two best teams.
I expect India to perform at their best and Australia to falter slightly, producing a narrow home victory that will set off yet another wild round of celebrations.

Former Australia captain Ian Chappell is a columnist