India all set for final assault

DAMBULLA: Pushed to the backfoot by Sri Lanka in the league phase of the Asia Cup, India are looking to hit back against the hosts in the match that matters the most – the final – at the Rangiri Dambulla international cricket stadium on Thursday.

The Indians are smarting from the humiliating loss on Tuesday. They did try to experiment with the team’s composition in that dress rehearsal match and suffered. Now, as the momentum has shifted towards the Lankans, MS Dhoni’s men will try to make amends and take home the trophy which has stayed away from their hands for 15 years now.

Harbhajan Singh, hero of the win against Pakistan, will be back in the team along with pacer Ashish Nehra to bolster the bowling attack led by Zaheer Khan. Praveen Kumar and Ravinder Jadeja are the other two expected to play on Thursday. The team management is reportedly pleased with Jadeja’s bowling but they want runs from his bat too.

As for India batting, Dinesh Karthik, who has come in for injured Virender Sehwag, will open with Gautam Gambhir who is expected to once provide the foundation for the later batsmen to capitalise upon. Gambhir, who failed to get a big score in the last league match, must be hungry for a big knock now. He has looked in good form and the team would be looking to ride on a Gauti special.

Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma would be under pressure to deliver and if they get going, Dhoni and Suresh Raina’s jobs would become that much easier. Dhoni’s dismissal in the last match made a huge difference to the team, which succumbed to Ferveez Maharoof’s guile on Tuesday. The Indian skipper is aware that he has a key role to play in the middle overs.

Lanka will start as favourites. They mostly are when they play at home. As for the stats, Lanka are expected to make it a hat-trick of Asia Cups in front of the home crowd. It’s a tall order for India but they would also take heart in another piece of stat: they are the only team to have got a hat-trick of Asia Cup title wins.

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