Saturday, 2 April 2011

Its Time For Asian's : Dream of all Asia final comes true

New Delhi: The dream of seeing an all-Asia final in the history of the Cricket World Cup has finally come true. In 1987, India and Pakistan were both stopped in their tracks in the semi-final and since then, there has never come a time that the three subcontinent teams have all been in a position to set up a title clash in any edition of the showpiece event.

That India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been real challengers to the title for over two decades is quite evident. After India's win at the Lord's in 1983, Pakistan were the second Asian team to make the title their own in 1992 and Sri Lanka completed the triangle in 1996.

The Aussie dominance had just begun and at each World Cup since then it was the Asian teams that gave them a fight to the finish, even if the finals did turn out to be rather one-sided affairs. In 1999, Pakistan were brushed aside at Lord's. In 2003, India finished second best at The Wanderers and in 2007, the Lankans were sunk in the Caribbean.

But with the Cup finally coming back to the land where it is revered and worshipped, it is befitting to have a final between two Asian teams.

Noted cricket columnist Peter Roebuck in a recent article said, "As this World Cup has reminded all and sundry once again, cricket can count itself fortunate that it took hold in this region. Certainly trouble comes along with the location, but it is well worth the bother."

With the World Cup returning to the subcontinent after 15 years, nothing was bigger than the India-Pakistan semi-final in Mohali on Wednesday. And while India vs Sri Lanka may not be as big, the intensity and hunger to win the biggest prize will remain the same.

Just one look at the numbers will tell you how the subcontinent has dominated the proceedings in this World Cup. Five of the six top run-getters before the final are from Sri Lanka and India, with Sri Lankan opener Tillakaratne Dilshan leading the list with 467 runs from eight matches. Sachin Tendulkar, seeking his 100th international hundred, is three runs behind.

Four of the seven top bowlers are from the subcontinent, headed by Pakistan skipper and leg-spinner Shahid Afridi with 21 wickets in eight matches. The others are Indian pacer Zaheer Khan (19 wickets), Sri Lankan off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan (15) and Pakistani fast bowler Umar Gul (14).

There is a lot at stake at the Wankhede on Saturday. There are players who are hoping to bag the final honour and bid farewell on a high. There are coaches strategising for their last games. There are heroes waiting to be created. But Saturday's final finally signals the end of Australia's decade-long
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