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British media expects Indian win

London: An Indian victory in the final against mighty Australia Sunday will not be a surprise given their current form and consistency, British media said Friday.

“While Australia will still be favourites, having gone through the competition unbeaten, they must know that India are much improved from the team they steamrolled in Centurion in mid-February,” The Times said.

Substantiating its belief, the newspaper quoted India captain Sourav Ganguly saying “Australia are the best test team in the world — we will see if they are the best one-day side as well”.

Stating that India have set up “dream final”, The Daily Telegraph wrote: “The World Cup will now have the final everyone has been crying out for.

India and Australia have emerged as the two exceptional sides in world cricket, and the one-sidedness of their first phase match — which the Australians won by nine wickets — should have little bearing on Sunday’s showpiece.

With a screaming headline “Ganguly sets up dream final” Daily Express said: “After six weeks, 51 matches, two forfeitures and countless hours of political rows, the World Cup has the final it wanted”.

Warne defers trip to avoid meeting mates

Melbourne: Australia leg spinner Shane Warne, who missed the World Cup after failing a drugs test, will fly to South Africa next week after deciding his appearance at Sunday’s final could be a distraction for the team.

A spokesman for sponsors in South Africa said on Thursday Warne had been trying unsuccessfully to book a flight from Melbourne in time for the final.

However, Warne’s brother and manager Jason said Friday the Warne camp has decided it would be best if the country’s most controversial sportsman waited until next week to complete pre-arranged commitments with sponsors.

“Shane has got a flight to South Africa. He won’t be there for the final though,” Jason said.

“He will be doing some work for sponsors that was originally planned for during the World Cup. He wasn’t able to do it during that time so he’s now fulfilling those commitments after the World Cup.”

Fans admit to wrongdoing

New Delhi: All the Indian cricket team’s sins have been forgotten back home.

Last month, fans across the country were burning effigies of players and organising protest marches, but now they are praying India will bring home the World Cup with a victory over Australia in the final at Johannesburg on Sunday.

“We were wrong,” said Dheeraj Rai, a 25-year-old doctor and avid cricket fan. “This Indian team has the stuff it takes to win big matches, they don’t give up and we’re proud of them.”

The angry reactions were because of India’s poor start to the tournament.

“After the Australia game, the mood here was unbelievably sombre,” said New Delhi fan Ajay Verma, an engineer. “India were bowled out for just 125 and we got the impression they were just not trying enough.”

But the Indian team have turned things around, equalling their national record with eight wins on the trot — including a celebrated six-wicket triumph over arch-rivals Pakistan.

n Australia vs Sri Lanka semi-final highlights from 8 am on Max n India vs Kenya semi-final highlights from 7 pm on Max n Taking Guard from 9 pm on Star Sports


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