Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar celebrating the dismissal of Sri Lanka's Kumar Sangakkara. (AFP Photo)
World champions India scripted a revival just in time to book a place in the Celkon Mobile Cup final on Thursday. A fifty-fifty record in the tournament - two wins and two defeats - isn't inspiring going into the decider, but India came back from two defeats in a row to win the next two games in convincing manner; that makes them favourites in the final against Sri Lanka. But there is more to look forward to in the title clash.
Rain, pitch and Mr. Duckworth & Lewis
It was dark and gloomy at the Queens Park on Wednesday. Recurring showers have kept the groundstaff on toes and will ensure another unpredictable pitch with 'split personality' disorder - something that the experienced cricketer watchers in Port of Spain will admit as well.
Undoubtedly, overcast conditions could once again lead to the ball dominating the bat on Thursday, and if the skies open up, calculators will be out - with the skippers carrying D/L sheets in their pockets. Not the ideal situation for the final, but that's how it is in the West Indies.
Having said that, the forecast for Thursday is slightly better than the past week: "light showers".
Rare company awaits Mahela Jayawardene who will join Sachin Tendulkar and Sanatha Jayasuriya on Thursday in the 400-ODIs club. Sri Lanka have won just two of their last 12 ODI campaigns, and Jayawardene would want his silken touch to be with him against India for a landmark performance to celebrate his 400th ODI.
The Dhoni surprise
Until the toss at India's last league match against Sri Lanka, Dhoni was considered out of the tournament with a hamstring injury. "Dhoni might play the final if we qualify and he is fit," said stand-in skipper Virat Kohli at the toss on Tuesday. To fuel that speculation, Dhoni sprinted around and played some football, but the team management hasn't said anything about Dhoni's return.
Kohli was out to address the media on the eve of the final. Whether Dhoni will play is still a suspense, but India won't mind that suspense turning into a surprise for the big match.
The way Sri Lankans mauled the Indian bowlers on their way to scoring 348 for 1 in Game 3, it appeared the mental scars won't heal in time for a final push. But led by Bhuvneshwar, the bowling unit got things in order to script the team's revival.
Bhuvneshwar took life out of the Sri Lankan top order with a six-over spell of 4 for 8 on Tuesday to take India to the final. Sri Lanka would be wary of his swing once again on Thursday with the conditions expected to favour India's new swing sensation.