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DateLine Sunday, 6 July 2008

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Sri Lanka out to clinch their fourth Asia Cup Title

Take on India in the final today:

CRICKET: Sri Lanka will be looking to win their fourth Asia Cup title when they take on the arch rivals India in the ninth edition of the six nation tournament final which will be worked off at the National Stadium in Karachi today (Sunday).

The Sri Lankans who are hoping to win the title for the first time away from home will take the field under some kind of pressure following their six wicket defeat against the same opponents during their Super Four match on Thursday.

However skipper Mahela Jayawardena believes that the past results of this tournament will not have any bearing on the final which will be a completely different contest between the two teams altogether.

In fact Sri Lanka and India are now even with the number of victories in the Asia Cup history with both teams having recorded seven wins each. The Sri Lankan captain noted that they have a good game plan in mind and if they could fully executive it they are in with a great chance of retaining the title.

Sri Lanka are the defending champions having last won the title in 2004 in Colombo under the captaincy of Marvan Atapattu. But this time skipper Jayawardena is under tremendous pressure against a determined Indian side who are also hoping to gain a psychological edge before their test and one day international series.

Jayawardena feels that batting first is still the best option even though India have proved their tremendous depth in the batting department by successfully chasing targets of over three hundred runs on a couple of occasions.

The Sri Lankan captain however stressed the importance of picking up early wickets which could be a vital link for their success. Even then they have always batted first in this tournament and that will no doubt be a major concern for the team management.

Sri Lanka will be strengthened with the return of ace paceman Chaminda Vaas and wrist spinner Ajantha Mendis who will be playing in his first Cup final for the country.

But skipper Jayawardena said that it is good that the focus is more on Ajantha Mendis because there will be less pressure on the rest of the bowlers who could come out and pick up some wickets for the team.

Sri Lanka have delayed their final eleven until the start of the game but they would probably include an extra batsman while allowing Jayasuriya and Dilshan to share the ten overs between them.

They will of course not want to change the successful opening combination of Jayasuriya and Sangakkara with Mahela Udawatte expected to bat at number four.

The teams:

Sri Lanka (from): Mahela Jayawardena (captain), Kumar Sangakkara, Tillekeratne Dilshan, Sanath Jayasuriya, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralitharan, Dilhara Fernando, Chamara Silva, Chamara Kapugedera, Mahela Udawatte, Nuwan Kulasekera, Jehan Mubarak, Ajantha Mendis, Kaushalya Weeraratne, Thilina Thushara.

India (from) Mahendra Dhoni (captain), Virender Sehwag, Gautham Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh, Praveen Kumar, Rohit Sharma, Irfan Pathan, Suresh Raina, Ishant Sharma, R. P. Singh, Robin Uthappa, Piyush Chawla, Yusuf Pathan, Manpreet Gony. (Karachi, Saturday)

The road to the Asia Cup final (how they fared):

SRI LANKA (preliminary round): Beat Bangladesh by 131 runs Beat UAE by 142 runs (Super Four): Beat Pakistan by 64 runs Beat Bangladesh by 158 runs Lost to India by 6 wickets INDIA (preliminary round): Beat Hong Kong by 256 runs Beat Pakistan by 6 wickets (Super Four): Beat Bangladesh by 7 wickets Lost to Pakistan by 8 wickets Beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets.

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