Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni appeared relaxed and confident here on Friday. He also expected Sri Lanka to be a tough opponent in Saturday's final.
“I have always said that Sri Lanka is a good side. It has some brilliant individual players and combines well as a unit.” The Indian captain added, “We are mentally and physically prepared. We will give it our hundred per cent and play as a team. These things are in our control. But the result is not always in your control; somebody out of nowhere could come up with a match-winning display.”
Dhoni said his side was peaking at the right time. “We have slowly gained momentum. Actually, the format of the tournament gave us the space to get into the groove. During the competition, we have grown as a team.”
Giving indications that paceman S. Sreesanth could figure in the final, Dhoni said, “Actually, he did not bowl badly in the first match, but we could not bring him back because we wanted to feature the best possible eleven for the conditions. He has been in the sidelines but if given an opportunity, he could do the job. We will look at the idea of the third seamer in the game.”
Dhoni added that whenever given an opportunity, off-spinner R. Ashwin too had done the job. “Actually, whether it is two spinners or three pacemen, we have kept our options open.”
The Indian skipper said he often rotated the attack to prevent the opposition from playing to a plan.
“We have seen that some teams are very predictable about who will open the attack and who will bowl first change. I do not want that to happen with our attack.”
Paying a tribute to off-spin legend Muttiah Muralitharan, Dhoni said, “He is a great bowler and a character. He was with us for three years at Chennai Super Kings. I am sure, even if he is on one leg, he will play the final.”
India under pressure
Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara acknowledged India was the favourite but said the home team would be under greater pressure.
Asked about the overwhelming crowd support for India since only a few hundred Sri Lankan fans would be present on the ground, Sangakkara said, “Actually, it can cut both ways. If a team does not do well on a particular day, there could be a lot more pressure.”
He said, “We should not become too emotional. At the same time, we should not become too cynical. I think we should find the right balance. Our cricket is not individual-driven. We have always come up with a collective approach.”
Sangakkara said Sri Lanka had come through a tough period and now the people back home were celebrating the country's progress to the final.
Keywords: Cricket World Cup 2011