India or Sri Lanka? Legends stand divided

Zeecric Bureau

Mumbai: A day after India vanquished Pakistan in an emotionally-charged World Cup semifinal, former World Cup winning captains stand divided on predicting the favourites to lift the coveted trophy on April 2 at the Wankhede Stadium.

The elite club of World Cup winning captains with the likes of Kapil Dev, Allan Border, Clive Llyod and Imran Khan discussed the outcome of the finale at a promotional event on Thursday.

The greats were clearly divided in their predictions of who would take the trophy home. Allan Border rooted for the most balanced team of the tournament, Sri Lanka, whereas Imran khan was of the opinion that India would go into the final with huge self confidence but Sri Lanka has in them to put up a great fight.

He said: “India have not performed to their potential yet and have gone through the test of fire. They will have less pressure in the final than the semifinal against Pakistan”.

When asked about giving any advice for the Indian team, Kapil Dev emphasized the fact of enjoying the game. “They should play the game passionately without taking any pressure. Of course pressure would be there, but it is important to enjoy the game as well."

He also commented about Sachin’s performance in the Cup. “Sachin does not need to prove anything; he is 100 times bigger than what we are talking about him”.

Arjuna Ranatunga, Sri Lanka`s World Cup winning captain, sounded very optimistic about Sri Lanka’s chances of winning a second World Cup. He stated that he would stay away from giving any advice to his team as President himself had given enough advice to the team.

“I should stay out when the President of the country is giving advice. Finals will have pressure. Dhoni and Sangakkara would feel it. The two best teams, the favourites, two Asian countries are up against each other. They should play 100 good overs”, he said.

On the other hand, Clive Lloyd emphasized on the fact of fielding, saying "catches will win matches" in the pretext of the India-Pakistan semifinal. He gave India the upper hand against Sri Lanka.

Meanwhile, top yesteryear Indian cricketers exuded confidence that the Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his men would end the 28-year-old jinx. "The way they are playing, India will definitely beat Sri Lanka. I will make it 60:40 in India`s favour," said Dilip Vengsarkar, former captain, ex-chief selector and member of the 1983 World Cup winning team led by Kapil Dev.

"I feel India have the edge over Sri Lanka. As you have seen it the Indian side is improving match by match. The victory over Pakistan, I think, is more difficult than playing against Sri Lanka. We have crossed the stiffest hurdle, stiffer than (four-time winners) Australia," said former Test left-arm spinner Bapu Nadkarni.

"I have been saying it for some time now even before the team went to South Africa (last November) that we should win the World Cup," said former Test skipper Nari Contractor who, however, feels India`s batting has not performed to its potential.

Former middle-order Test batting mainstay and ex-chief selector Chandu Borde, who was on the selection panel that picked the 1983 Cup-winning squad, also gave India a slight edge over the Lankans because of home advantage.

"I suppose playing at home will be to our advantage over Sri Lanka, but you cannot take them lightly. They were one of the pre-tournament contenders for the Cup. These two teams have come through trial by fire, winning some and losing some matches to reach the final. Both the teams would be mentally and physically well prepared," he said.

Vengsarkar also added that nothing would be better than batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar, who scored a chancy 85 in Wednesday`s semifinal to receive the Man of the Match award, getting to the pioneering landmark of 100 international tons and India winning the Cup on Saturday.

"If he gets his 100th (international) 100 at Wankhede and India wins the final, it will be perfect icing on the cake and will be the greatest day for the greatest cricketer India has ever produced," Vengsarkar remarked.

The iconic player has scored 51 Test hundreds and 48 in ODIs, including two earlier in the tournament against England and South Africa.

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