Himanshu Dubey

For the first time in the history of World Cup, two Asian giants will lock horns in the summit clash on Saturday, when India and Sri Lanka play for the ultimate cricketing prize at Wankhade, Mumbai.

The paraphernalia for the big game is well in place- track is ready, security water-tight, stands are sold out and players from either sides are thrilled to feature in the all-important final.

But if there is one man who will be living his dream on Saturday is India’s little master SachinTendulkar, who will be coming out for the final time in any World Cup game and for him there is lot at stake-his 100th century, his all time dream to hold the Gold.

Interestingly, he could not have chosen a better occasion to notch up his pack of hundreds than a WC final, he could not have chosen a better place than his home turf, where he learnt the basics of the game, and he could not have chosen a better month than his 38th birth-month to get what is any batsman’s dream.  Has God saved his best for the last?

Billions in India are bleeding blue and hoping that Team India’s 28 year long dry run end this time around.

India did not set off at full speed when the competition kicked off. Slowly and steadily they are peaking and getting their act together at crunch time. India’s sole concern was their bowling and it looks as if Zaheer Khan specials in almost every game have inspired his fellow mates to up their game and put in a little extra effort for better yielding results.

Team India’s campaign has been very ambivalent, if there were lows, there were highs too. If bowling suffered badly, India’s batting inflicted great damage.

Yuvraj Singh’s heroics were instrumental in India’s successful run in ICC T20 WC back in 2007 and going by his form prior to this competition, Dhoni, though never doubted his credentials, would not have been too optimistic about the flamboyant left hander.

But flipping the tables, Yuvraj Singh has been nothing less than extraordinary. Grabbing four Man of the Match awards, he has certainly proved out to be India’s trump card, and his display with the ball has been high class.

It’s one last hurdle to cross and Team India, riding on hopes, prayers and expectation has to give its best shot to be crowned as World champions.

The final lap of the journey won’t be a walk in the park for Dhoni and Co. Kumar Sangakkara is roaring on top of his voice to do Ranatunga’s act of 1996 and take the coveted Cup back to Colombo after the gap 15 years.

Finalists of the 2007 World Cup, Sri Lanka will strain every nerve to hold India back and give the retiring spin king, Muralidharan, the best farewell present.

Sri Lankan opening duo of Tillarkaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga hold the key for Sangakkara, who will be a touch worried about the inexperienced middle-order, which is susceptible to crumble under pressure. Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene and Sanga himself have steadied the Lankan ship many a times in the tournament and they will be the most priced wickets for the opposition.

It’s the last game of the World Cup 2011, featuring the two best sides, with two greats and icons for cricket- Muttaih Muralidharan and Sachin Tendulkar. Just few hours to go before the result is known but these few hours are like eternity, wish we knew the outcome beforehand.

JPN