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World Twenty20 final: Six players to watch out for


Cricketnext Staff
Apr 05, 2014 at 09:29pm IST

In India and Sri Lanka, two of the best-performing teams have reached the final of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20, and this is an unarguable fact given the way the two subcontinent giants have dominated the tournament right from the start.

But now it all boils down to who plays better cricket on the day that matters the most. Sri Lanka will be keen to give Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who have decided to retire from T20Is, a fitting farewell. On the other hand, ODI champions India will lay their coffins on the sidelines to conquer the Twenty20 arena as well, after winning the World T20 seven years back.

The two squads are brimming with talent, from free-scoring stroke-makers to quality spinners, there is no dearth of match-winners on both the sides. And big-match pressure brings out the best from big-match players. Let's take a look at six of those gamechangers who can leave a decisive impression on a Super Sunday.

World Twenty20 final, India vs Sri Lanka: Six players to watch out for

File photo of Yuvraj Singh. (Getty Images)

Virat Kohli: In recent years, Kohli has been the go-to man for MS Dhoni, especially when it comes to chasing totals in limited-overs cricket. He has a tremendous quality to come up with brilliantly paced innings when the pressure is gargantuan, like the other day in the WT20 semi-final against South Africa. Kohli made the decent total of 172 posted by South Africa look paltry. Such was his nonchalance at the crease that he went about scoring 72 not out as if he knew South Africa haven't got enough on the board. Come Sunday and all eyes will be on the talented youngster who is leading the batting charts of this WT20 with 242 runs from five matches, average 121, strike rate 128.04.

Yuvraj Singh: Though Yuvraj looked scratchy at the start of the tournament, he found his mojo in India's last Group 2 game against Australia where he scored 60 off 43 balls. There were reports of him sitting out in the semi-final on Saturday due to a freak foot injury, but he recovered in time, though scored only 18 off 17 balls. The Indian team management won't take a chance of dropping Yuvraj considering he is one of their big-match players who is unstoppable on his day. Not to forget, Yuvraj has a stupendous record in T20 cricket and he relishes the challenge that this format throws at him. Yuvraj hasn't set this tournament on fire, scoring only 89 in four innings. But his overall T20 record speaks for itself: 39 matches, 957, average 31.90, strike rate 147.68.

R Ashwin: Undoubtedly Ravichandran Ashwin has been Dhoni's blue-eyed boy and has been in top form in the last fortnight, bagging wickets for his team whenever the skipper threw the ball to him. In the semi-final against South Africa, when Faf du Plessis was going berserk, Ashwin struck to get the SA skipper's number. His delivery that spun away to knock back Hashim Amla's offstump was hailed by Adam Gilchrist as the 'T20 ball of the century'. He finished with figures of 3 for 22 and is three wickets away from becoming the top bowler of the tournament. His stats so far in the tournament: 5 matches, 10 wickets, economy 4.91, best 4 for 11.

Mahela Jayawardene: The Sri Lankan veteran will play his last T20I game on Sunday and thus would like to end on a high holding an ICC trophy aloft. Jayawardene knows it well and would not like to let this chance slip. He was struggling for form to start things off but bounced back in the league match against England by scoring a 51-ball 89, though Sri Lanka eventually lost. But he is one of the three pillars - Sangakkara and Dilshan being the other two - of the Lankan batting, not to forget the century he scored in the 2011 World Cup final. So far in this World T20, Jayawardene has scored 134 runs in five games at an average of 33.50 and strike rate of 131.37.

Lasith Malinga: In all probability, Lasith Malinga would once again lead the side after Dinesh Chandimal 'opted out', unless Chandimal decides to come back. Captaincy or no captaincy, Malinga is lethal with a ball in hand, especially in T20s. In this World Twenty20, he has preferred not to share the new ball, rather using his experience by bowling at the death, which is where he is most difficult to score off. Stats so far in this WT20: 5 matches, 5 wickets, economy rate 5.92, best 2 for 5.

Sachitra Senanayake: Sri Lanka will face a spin conundrum ahead of the final, with a choice to be made between Senanayake, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis. Senanayake has so far claimed four wickets from five matches but stands a strong chance of getting himself picked because of his variations. Moreover, Senanayake's height is a plus, which gives him the extra bounce, and he also gets the ball to zip off the wicket. Sri Lanka will miss the plot if they ignore him for the final.

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