Every week Geoff Boycott updates his site with fresh views on the world of cricket. Don't miss it.
Posted on | April 2, 2011 | 1 Comment
India are not a team that play well under pressure but I believe they are capable of handling the hype to become the first team to win the World Cup in their own country.
I believe they could win the final on Saturday but I am not going to put my money on them. I picked Sri Lanka and India as my two favourites for the World Cup because they are good teams and used to playing in sub-continent conditions.
To be successful in India and Sri Lanka you have to have good spinners and confidence in bowling those spinners in any situation. That is what England failed to appreciate.
Everybody knows India have the stronger batting line up but it will not count for anything unless they bat well against Muttiah Muralitharan and Lasith Malinga.
That is the key match-up in the game. Murali has pulled a hamstring but he will bowl OK on one leg because it is his last match for Sri Lanka. It is amazing what that can do for handling pain.
His off-spinner and doosra both turn a lot and unless the Indian batsmen pick him well they are not going to score off him. If he is allowed to tie them down they have got a problem.
‘Slinger’ Malinger is bowling fantastically well. Although his arm is low he delivers the ball from over the top of the stumps so that he is bowling wicket to wicket and that doesn’t give the batsmen any angles to play with. Even when he bowls length he is a good bowler and his yorkers are fantastic. With the old ball he can reverse swing it in at pace.
Batsmen know what they are going to get but they can’t always play it. Sri Lanka are a well balanced team with four very good batsmen. Two openers, Upal Tharanga and Tillekeratne Dilshan, are in good nick, Kumar Sangakkara is one of the best players in the world and is in good form.
Mahela Jayawardene is at the end of his career but is playing beautifully. They are a well balanced team.
Everybody will be focussing on Sachin Tendulkar trying to get his 100th international hundred. He is playing quite well. It is his home ground but he would sooner have a World Cup winner’s medal than him getting a hundred and they lose. There will be some extra pressure on him but he has had that for 20 years so he will just deal with it in his usual way.
Besides Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag, I think Yuvraj Singh will be a big factor in the final with his bowling and above all with his batting. He has already got four man-of-the-match awards and he has won a motorcycle for it each time. He has every chance of winning another on Saturday and if he does he will need an extension on his house to park all his bikes.
In the semi-final India were mentally stronger than the opposition at crucial times in the game. That is a good sign for the final and why they won last night. Pakistan have never beaten India in a World Cup match and it showed. Even with the total 30 runs short of what they expected to make, I got the impression India had more self belief and badly wanted the win.
Although Sehwag got India off to a flyer it was the Pakistan spinners who caused most problems. I have watched Tendulkar bat numerous times and never seen him struggle against spin. I’ve never seen him fail to pick the spinners like he did against Pakistan. Saeed Ajmal caused him lots of problems because he could not read him. He was playing the doosra to leg side and got a leading edge, and then was nearly stumped. Sachin did not have the conviction to go and hit him so he had to play in a wary, careful manner, picking off singles.
Even the orthodox off-spinner Hafeez was allowed to bowl ten overs for 34 runs. Sachin should have been out four times but Pakistan dropped him. Three of those were off Shahid Afridi but in between all that he played some absolutely gorgeous drives lofted over extra cover. It is a good job Sachin had the maturity, experience and a strong mind to keep battling on and not give his wicket away.
For Pakistan nobody was able to make a serious contribution. There were too many little cameos and people hitting out and getting out. I don’t know what the hell Misbah-ul-Haq was doing.
He poked around leaving the hitting to Razzaq and Afridi and then when the game was lost he then started smacking the ball to the boundary.
He mis-timed his attempt to go for victory, but I just felt India deserved to win.
Article reproduced by kind permission of the Daily Telegraph.