New Delhi: Although India vs Sri Lanka matches may have failed to generate the thrill and excitement of an India-Pakistan or an India-Australia encounter in the recent past, the fact that it will be a battle between the planet’s best batsman (Sachin Tendulkar) and the best bowler (Muttiah Muralitharan) in a World Cup final is enough to set the pulse racing.
A look at the performance of the two teams in the ongoing World Cup and their strengths and weaknesses suggests that the grand finale at the Wankhede tomorrow could well turn out to be a humdinger, especially if the teams perform up to expectations.
While India have a clear edge in the batting department with Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina all displaying good form, Sri Lanka, with their strong bowling line-up boasting of names like Muralitharan, Lasith Malinga and Ajantha Mendis, are capable of tying down even the best in the business.
With just a day to go for the biggest encounter on the planet, Zeecric.com looks at the strength and weaknesses of the two teams:
Batting: India strong on paper but stats reveal something else
Although the Indian batting line-up looks to be miles ahead in terms of talent and star-power than their Sri Lankan counterparts, a closer look at the statistics reveals that the team from the island nation hasn’t performed too badly either.
The Indian batting line-up has managed to blast 2194 runs in the competition so far (average of 274 runs per innings) as opposed the Lankan total of 1933 (242 each innings). However, the fact that the Indians have lost a lot more wickets (58) than that Lankans (40) gives the latter a better average for each wicket.
The Indian opening duo of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar is what every team dreams of having. So far in the tournament, the duo has managed an average opening stand of 53.9 at a superb strike rate of 102.6
While the Lankan openers have a much better average stand of 97.9, their lower strike rate of 90.1 evens it out.
Although both the teams have an identical strike rate for their middle order, the Lankans have lost fewer wickets, which gives them a better average score per wicket. At the same time, the Indian middle order has had more time in the middle.
India’s lower order batsmen have also had the luxury of spending time in the middle and have scored more runs (304) than the Lankan lower order (172).
Suggested Strategy for Sri Lankan Bowlers
Indian batters are stroke players and like to score at a quick pace. Dry up the runs and frustrate them to claim wickets.
Suggested Strategy for Indian Bowlers
The Lankan openers and top order batsman have tried to build partnerships and do not give away their wickets easily. Try to get them out and expose the untested middle and lower-order.
Bowling: Sri Lanka are ahead
The Lankan bowlers have given away far less runs (1328 in 7 innings), which makes it an average of 190 each innings, than the Indian bowlers, who have given away 1996 runs in 8 innings at an average 250 each innings. However, what would give India heart is the fact that both the teams have taken 9 wickets on an average in each game.
Sri Lanka’s strength is not pace but spin bowling, which is visible in the fact that they have bowled fewer overs of pace (113) compared to India (157) so far in the tournament. The result is that their fast bowlers have picked up less wickets (23) than their Indian counterparts (33).
The Sri Lankan quick bowlers’ economy rate (4.83) is far better that the Indians (5.23).
Sri Lanka have the world’s best spin bowler. Their economy rate (3.79) in far better than the Indians (4.86). The average and strike rates of the Lankan spinners are also much better than the Indians.