The final of the ICC World T20 2014 sees India pitted against Sri Lanka. Considering how well Sri Lanka performed in the Asia Cup prior to this tournament it would not have been an exaggeration to think that it was going to be one of the title contenders. However, not many would have given India much chance considering its woeful recent form. The Indian team has, though, been able to silence its critics as of now with some stellar performances with both bat and ball in the run up to the final. It now seems a mouth-watering prospect for cricket lovers. This match would also be a memorable one given the fact that the Sri Lankan duo of Sangakkara and Jayawardene – absolute masters both of them – are appearing in their final game for their country in the T20 version.
Form: Perhaps the biggest indicator of form for both the teams is that they have reached the finals in a dominant way. While India had a splendid passage through the group stage and a relatively tough encounter in the semis, Sri Lanka suffered a minor hiccup against England in the group stages but won the rest of the games, including the semi final against the 2012 champions West Indies, rather easily.
First eleven: India made some changes during the semifinal game against the Proteas. Having succeeded in that match, it is unlikely that Dhoni will be choosing a different team for the finals. Still, one feels that Shami could be brought back instead of Mohit Sharma who did not exactly have the best outing in that match. The team could look like this:
Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina, Yuvraj Singh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja, Ravichandran Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Amit Mishra, and Mohit Sharma/Mohammed Shami.
Sri Lanka on the other hand may also go in with the team that won against West Indies. However, there is a chance that Chandimal could come back in the team for the final. The question is who will he replace? Allrounder Thisara Perera could also come back to the team instead of Seekkuge Prasanna.
Kushal Janith Perera/Dinesh Chandimal, Tillekratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Angelo Mathews, Lahiru Thirimanne, Thisara Perera/Seekkuge Prasanna, Nuwan Kulasekara, Lasith Malinga, Sachithra Senanayake and Rangana Herath.
Importance of the match: For India, this game represents a chance to add to its solitary World T20 triumph in 2007 and also continue its stellar performance in ICC tournaments in the last couple of years. As far as Sri Lanka is concerned it have not won a major ICC championship since sharing the ICC Champions Trophy with India in 2002. Since then it has been to a number of finals only to disappoint in the crunch game.
Issues for the teams: The major issue for India will be choosing between Mohit Sharma and Mohammed Shami for the final seamer’s slot. It will also need to battle complacency and be mentally prepared to bat first and put up a major total that can be defended by the bowlers. Till now, its wins have followed a pattern – in order to be champion, however, it is imperative that the team is ready with a plan B in case things do not work out.
Sri Lanka will have a couple of selection issues. First of all, will Chandimal come back to the first team? He is one of the finest young batsmen in the team and capable of turning a game on its head but who will he replace? If he has to be accommodated the team will have to make a tough choice of either leaving out one of the openers, who performed creditably in the semi final, or worse still, Mahela Jayawardene, for whom this is the last match.
The team also needs to choose between seam bowling allrounder Thisara Perera and Seekkuge Prasanna, the spin bowling allrounder. Considering India’s weakness against quicker bowling and Thisara’s record against India, he looks the better bet but it also needs to be kept in mind that Prasanna performed well in the semifinal and it may be unwise to break the winning combination in such a crucial encounter.
However, one thing is for sure – whoever makes the better choices on and off the field will win on the D day.