Injury blow for Sri Lanka

Friday, April 1, 2011
Kemantha Govender

Durban - The stage for the first all-Asian final has been set in Mumbai, but injury concerns plague both India and Sri Lanka as the ICC Cricket World Cup nears its end.

Cricket lovers are in for a treat at the Wankhede Stadium when the world's best bowler, Muttiah Muralitharan, is expected to go up against the legendary, Sachin Tendulkar.

Muralitharan is one of the players battling injures - but it is most likely to play his last match for his country.

Sri Lanka will have to do without all rounder Angelo Mathews, who has been ruled out of the game and will be replaced by Suraj Randiv.

Mathews, ruled out with a quadriceps muscle injury, played a key role in Sri Lanka's middle order and was a fine back up seamer.

Muralitharan did not train on Thursday and sustained different injuries during the tournament.
Sri Lanka had to also fly in Chaminda Vaas to stand in for Muralitharan.

Meanwhile, India took a huge blow when Ashish Nehra fractured the middle finger on his right hand, casting doubt on his availability for the final.

Indian team manager Ranjib Biswal said the team would only decide on Friday about whether or not Nehra would play.

Gautam Gambhir, who pulled a hamstring, is expected to be fit.

Most cricket pundits have been finding it quite a task to predict an outright winner.

India may have the home ground advantage but Sri Lanka already played on the newly-laid pitch at Mumbai, beating New Zealand in the group stage.

All three teams, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all unutilised the conditions on the Asian sub-continent to their benefit. 

The two sides have played each other 128 times, India have won 67 games, Sri Lanka 50 and ties and no result account for 11.

This final will feature six top leading run scorers in this tournament.

Sri Lankan opener Tillakaratne Dilshan leads the pack with 467 runs from eight matches, followed by India's Tendulkar (464).

Sri Lankan duo Kumar Sangakkara (417) and Upul Tharanga (393) can be found in 4th and 5th place respectively.

India's Virender Sehwag (380) and Yuvraj Singh (341) occupy position six and eight. Indian paceman Zaheer Khan (19 wickets) and Muralitharan (15) are among the top ten bowlers.

Although this match also comes down to two veterans looking to make history in their final World Cup, there is no doubt that Muralitharan and Tendulkar will sacrifice personal records for World Cup glory.

Tendulkar will be seeking his 100th ODI century in his final World Cup appearance. - BuaNews

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