Adam Parore: Sri Lanka on top of their game - but India can go one better

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Sri Lanka have been my tip to win the World Cup, but I suspect they will fall short against India in tonight's final.

Had the Sri Lankans been playing any other team, my money would have been on them finishing the job.

I'd always expected Sri Lanka would go all the way - but feel India will have their measure.

Once they got past Pakistan in what was always going to be a difficult game, India's odds of winning the Cup? a second time shortened considerably in my book.

Their batsmen are experienced and good enough to handle Sri Lanka's terrific, and varied, bowling attack.

I think of the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, captain MS Dhoni and, when he was in the side, Rahul Dravid, as examples of players who worked out the intricacies of facing Muttiah Muralitharan and Ajantha Mendis and prospered against them.

Having got this far, India won't let the pressure of the occasion get to them. Should the top order slip up, their middle order looks pretty solid as a second line of offence.

In Yuvraj Singh, who has impressed me in the Cup? , Dhoni and Suresh Raina, India have a strong core through the middle of the innings.

Following on from Virendar Sehwag, Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir, who have the ability to win the game on their own, that's a pretty formidable lineup.

Tendulkar, of course, also has the small matter of his 100th international ton to play for. He won't lack for incentive in his home city before his own fans.

Throw in some pretty useful bowlers, such as left-armer Zaheer Khan and spinner Harbhajan Singh, and my feeling is that India won't be denied in Mumbai.

In a sense, New Zealand's performance was typical of their Cup? campaigns of the past.

Knockout cricket seems to suit us, so beating South Africa didn't greatly surprise me.

It was just a shame the New Zealanders weren't quite up to the job in their semifinal against Sri Lanka.

If they'd batted second they would have needed conditions at the Premadasa Stadium to be good; batting first they needed the pitch to deteriorate.

It didn't really happen, but New Zealand arrive home satisfied considering the shape they were in on the sub-continent late last year.

Much of their success must be placed at coach John Wright's feet.

Wright is a genuine guy, he's what you'd call a players' coach - he was certainly a players' player.

I believe the players have cottoned on to his philosophy and appreciate that he is passionate about the game and New Zealand's place in it.

He looks to have knitted the group of players together pretty well. They seemed to be pulling hard in the same direction and showed plenty of spirit against South Africa to defend what seemed too small a target.

For that reason I'd suggest the next 12 months look pretty positive for New Zealand.

- NZ Herald

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