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Sri Lankan bowlers peg back Indians

Dhaka: Perhaps Sri Lanka captain Lasith Malinga didn’t want to give India a chance to chase and so he invited Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team to bat first in the final of the World T20, at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium, on Sunday.

Expectedly, Dhoni too wanted to bowl first. “We were looking to bowl first as well... We have chased well so far in the tournament... That’s the only reason. Apart from that, I don’t think the wicket will change much... The wicket looks slightly better than the other wickets on which we have played,” the Indian captain said after the toss.

What would be the ideal target that India would like to set? Dhoni thought 130-135 would be a “tricky” target. “130-135 is a the tricky target to chase down... When you have a target of 170-180, you know that you have to go full throttle. But a target of 135 will make you think more. So we need to have our game plan ready. The scorecard may suggest that we had it easy against South Africa in the semi-final, but I can assure you it wasn’t easy at all,” Dhoni explained.

He hoped that Virat Kohli, whose scintillating batting won India the semi-final, would do well once again. “Virat bats at No. 3 and he has batted responsibly... He has often batted through the innings and taken the pressure off the rest of the batsmen. Hopefully, he will come good today also along with the rest of the batsmen.”

Sunday’s match was Dhoni’s third final of a World meet. But he doesn’t think that his experience would make his job any easier. “Being an experienced campaigner doesn’t make the job easy at all... Every year the approach has changed and cricket has evolved. So you always need to improvise.”

Dhoni stressed that they would have to play their best cricket to beat the Lankans. “Sri Lanka are a quality side and we respect them... We have to play our best cricket.”

Malinga, on the other hand, believes that their good showings in the last two matches would help them do well in the final as well. “We have played brilliantly in the last two games. We enjoyed ourselves and we are looking forward to this one. We will try to restrict them to a low total and then chase the target down,” the stand-in captain said.

He has already said that they would like to do something special for senior pros Mahela Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara who were playing their last T20 International match on Sunday. He reiterated that feeling again before the start of the match. “We’ve enjoyed ourselves playing with Mahela and Sanga. Today is a good opportunity of doing something special for them.” While India went with an unchanged XI, Sri Lanka replaced Seekkuge Prasanna with and Thisara Perera.