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World T20 Final: India aim at a treble against jinxed Sri Lanka


Jaspreet Sahni,Cricketnext
Apr 06, 2014 at 11:17am IST

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Familiarity counts for nothing when pride and prize are at stake in equal measure. Not many are risking a guess for this one. The 2014 ICC World Twenty20 final is placed on a knife's edge, even before it begins.

There have been 19 tournament finals contested between India and Sri Lanka, and since the 2nd day of April 2011, this one today perhaps has the most honour attached to it.

ALSO SEE Five things to know about India

The trophy isn't secondary, nor are the ribbons attached to it. Hanging to it are hope, history and farewell. And no team will give an inch to other in the battle for T20 supremacy.

World T20 Final: India aim at a treble against jinxed Sri Lanka

A win will make India the first team to hold all three limited-overs ICC trophies at the same time as Sri Lanka hope to be third-time lucky at WT20.

India have come from a bumpy overseas ride to turn it around in familiar subcontinent conditions, and the team has done it in such style that they are now just a step away from winning the WT20 undefeated.

ALSO SEE Five things to know about Sri Lanka

Five T20 wins in a row may not have compensated for Test series losses in South Africa and New Zealand, but the cheer has returned with a touch of surprise, because the Asia Cup at the same venue didn't tell a happy story. And to turn it around in the way India have is remarkable.

MS Dhoni came back fresh after resting for the Asia Cup, has looked more flexible and the combinations he picked have responded to the skipper's call.

ALSO SEE Six players to watch out for

Spinners R Ashwin and Amit Mishra have led the bowling and that man Virat Kohli continues to remain unstoppable. India don't need to change anything, and they are also not expected to do that, especially inside the pressure cooker called World T20 final. Dhoni, in all likelihood, will go in with the same eleven, which means another day on the bench for Shikhar Dhawan and Mohammad Shami.

The Lankans will come with a heavy heart on a day that will see Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara play a T20 international for the last time. But there will be a sense of determination as well - not just to give a fitting farewell to the veterans but also to not let the title slip away for the third time.

ALSO SEE Malinga plans to dismiss Kohli early

The losing finalists of 2009 and 2012 have done everything to strike a balance, to the extent that regular skipper Dinesh Chandimal has 'opted' to stay out of the eleven, and Lasith Malinga may continue to lead the side on Sunday.

Coming back to the ribbons of 'hope', 'history' and 'farewell' attached to the trophy, here's what to look forward to other than the battle between wood and leather:

History beckons India, Dhoni

Dhoni will be on the cusp of creating history. A third World title awaits him as skipper, something no captain has achieved so far. Clive Lloyd and Ricky Pointing led West Indies and Australia, respectively, to two ODI titles. On Sunday, Dhoni can become the only captain to do it thrice, having won the 2007 World T20 and the 2011 World Cup.

If India go on to win, it will be their sixth consecutive T20I victory, equalling the record for the longest winning streak. And it will be the third limited-overs ICC trophy in India's lap at the same time - 2013 Champions Trophy and 2011 World Cup being the other two, making them the first team to do so.

Thank you, guys!

It will be the last time two Sri Lankan talismans Jayawardene and Sangakkara will make a T20I appearance. They announced their retirement from the format pre-tournament. For the record, the Lankans failed to give a fitting farewell to Muttiah Muralitharan, when they lost the 2011 World Cup final. But the team would not want that ignominy to haunt them once again.

Not again, Sri Lanka!

It will be the third time - after 2009 and 2012 - that Sri Lanka will be playing a World Twenty20 final. So 'third-time lucky' is a cliche that perfectly fits here. And the Lankans will hope that they break the jinx. Plus, Jayawardene and Sangakkara have lost four World finals together. So the team will want to do it for them this time.

Probable XIs:

India: 1 Rohit Sharma, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Yuvraj Singh, 5 Suresh Raina, 6 MS Dhoni (c/wk), 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 R Ashwin, 9 Amit Mishra, 10 Bhuvneshwar Kumar, 11 Mohit Sharma

Sri Lanka: 1 Kusal Perera, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Mahela Jayawardene, 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Lahiru Thirimanne, 6 Angelo Mathews, 7 Seekkuge Prasanna/Thisara Perera, 8 Nuwan Kulasekara, 9 Sachithra Senanayake, 10 Lasith Malinga (c), 11 Rangana Herath

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