Injury worries for India, Sri Lanka ahead of final

By Abhishek Roy, IANS,

Mumbai : India and Sri Lanka received a setback Friday as the home team lost to injuries pacer Ashish Nehra and the visitors their key all-rounder Angelo Matthews on the eve of the World Cup final.

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Nehra sustained multiple fractures on his middle-finger in his right hand during Wednesday’s semifinal against Pakistan in Mohali while Mathews suffered a strain to his right thigh muscle during his side’s semifinal victory over New Zealand in Colombo. Matthews will be replaced by 26-year-old off-spinner Suraj Randiv.

Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni hinted that temperamental fast bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth could find a place in the playing eleven against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium.

He said that playing three pacers is a likely plan as the wicket here offers some initial pace and bounce to the fast bowlers.

“The track here offers some pace and bounce for the seamers initially and if there is some reverse swing then third seamer will have some impact on the game. We have full confidence on Ashwin and I think he has done a great job in limited opportunities that came his way. But we haven’t yet finally decided whether we have to go in with three
pacers or two pacers,” he said.

Dhoni, however, said that Gambhir, who picked up a hamstring injury during the semifinal against Pakistan, would be fit for the final.

“Gambhir looks good right now, Ashish is ruled out with multiple injuries to finger on his right hand. Gambhir is likely to be fit for the game,” said Dhoni.

With Mathews out, Sri Lankan skipper Kumar Sangakkara hoped that his champion spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, playing his last international match, would be fit in time for the match.

The 38-year-old off-spinner has endured pain to play in his swansong tournament with hamstring, knee, groin and side injuries in the run-up to the final.

“We have flown in covers for the people injured and we will make ongoing assessment as the day goes along. We will make a final decision by the evening as to who is fit to play and decide the final combination of the team,” Sangakkara said.

The captain is banking on fate to get a fit Muralitharan for Saturday’s final, as it would be his 350th and last ODI.

“Murali’s presence is always valuable. He is a big-match player. It’s great to have him in the side, it’s great to hopefully have him tomorrow, and to have him play this World Cup final with us because there’s no other way we can have it,” Sangakkara said.

“Whatever happens tomorrow we want to play for him and play for each other and do the best that we can.”

Sangakkara said that despite the various injuries the 38-year-old Muralitharan was still a lively character in the dressing room.

“It’s hard to shut Murali up, whatever his mood is. He’s pretty upbeat. He’s always talking, laughing and annoying most of the other players in the dressing room. Today’s been no different,” said Sangakkara.