Colombo: It has been a shade over three years since Team India last won a tournament exclusively on their own. The wait after the 2002 NatWest has, expectedly, been frustrating.
India did jointly win the tri-series in Bangladesh soon after the 2003 World Cup, with South Africa, but the charm is in winning singly.
Come Tuesday and the chance to add another trophy (the IndianOil Cup) arrives. However, opponents Sri Lanka have an exceptional record at home: Outright winners in eight of the 11 finals.
Yet, perhaps, it’s significant that both Sri Lanka’s losses have been to India. Also, the only time they finished joint-winners was with India ' the inaugural Champions Trophy, almost three years ago.
“We know Sri Lanka are formidable at home... For me, though, records are a thing of the past... History... Tomorrow will be a fresh day and a fresh match,” captain Rahul Dravid told The Telegraph.
He sounded confident and looked pretty relaxed, too, on Monday evening. That augurs well, but the “history” bit includes defeats at the hands of the hosts in both league matches.
Dravid added: “There’s no tension... If anything, there’s this eagerness for the final to get underway... Whatever the result, I’m going to enjoy the moment... I’ll be asking the boys to do the same...”
The captain and coach Greg Chappell have shortlisted XIII, omitting youngsters Suresh Raina, Yalaka Venugopal Rao and Lakshmipathy Balaji. Apparently, both Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh are to figure in the XI.
The good news is that former captain Sourav Ganguly, struck on the left forearm by Daren Powell in the virtual semi-final, is going to play.
“I’m not a hundred per cent, but the pain is much less as is the swelling. I won’t miss the final,” Sourav said, speaking exclusively.
He spent the day applying an ice-pack on the injured area. Given that the ball was just a few overs old, the seam has left its (painful) mark.
With Sourav ready, the Indians will be at full strength. Ditto for the Sri Lankans.
Maravan Atapattu is back at the helm ' he clarified he wasn’t well and, so, missed the last match ' which means Upul Tharanga sits out.
Then (and the Indians need to be wary), spearhead Chaminda Vaas is going to make his only appearance. Set for the axe is Nuwan Zoysa.
The Sri Lankans, one understands, are in a dilemma over whether to drop Dilhara Fernando and bring back the other Dilhara ' Lokuhettige.
It’s widely held that chasing under lights (at the Premadasa) isn’t the easiest of tasks. Atapattu, however, felt that argument was somewhat misplaced. “I don’t think the toss will be such a big factor,” he declared.
Asked whether he would have preferred facing the West Indies, Atapattu quipped: “Given the way they played the last two matches, I’m not sure...”
On Sunday, the West Indies came to within eight runs of packing off India. The previous night, they stunned Sri Lanka.
INDIA (from): Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh, Mohammed Kaif, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Irfan Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, Ashish Nehra, Zaheer Khan, Jai Prakash Yadav.
SRI LANKA: Sanath Jayasuriya, Maravan Atapattu, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, T.M. Dilshan, Russel Arnold, Upul Chandana, Farveez Mahroof, Chaminda Vaas, Muttiah Muralidharan, Dilhara Fernando/Dilhara Lokuhettige
Umpires: Simon Taufel, Asoka de Silva. TV: T.H.Wijewardene.
Match Referee: Mike Procter.
Final begins: 2 pm (IST).