The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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India weighing bowling options
- ASIA CUP l Murali, Vaas set to replace Jayantha, Malinga

Colombo: The Team India thinktank is undecided on whether to retain the 2-2 bowling combination for Sunday’s Asia Cup final, against Sri Lanka, or drop one spinner and add a quick. In fact, this decision may not be reached on match-eve as well.

“It’s going to be tricky... The toss-up, after all, could be between Anil Kumble and Ashish Nehra... And, so, nothing may be decided till just before the toss... It appears everybody isn’t sure how the Premadasa wicket will behave,” a well-placed source told The Telegraph on Friday evening.

India, of course, have made an Asia Cup final (this edition being sponsored by IndianOil) after seven years — and, the last time they did so, hosts Sri Lanka emerged emphatic winners.

“We’re keyed up and the boys want to win this one… We did have a close finish on Tuesday (versus Sri Lanka), but that’s probably the best thing to have happened... It’s nice to end on the right side of such a game, specially when the very next is the final,” is how vice-captain Rahul Dravid summed up the mood.

Asked whether the return of Muttiah Muralidharan and Chaminda Vaas is going to be a factor, he replied: “Don’t think so because, in the past, we’ve played against both — and, done well. But, yes, Sri Lanka will be at full strength for a one-off face-off.”

In the current tournament, the India-Sri Lanka head-to-head reads 1-1.

Significantly, all XIV Indians are available for selection. Understandably, much of the attention during the morning nets was on V.V.S. Laxman, who had a hit after exactly a week. Later, he said: “I felt quite good...”

With Laxman fit, Parthiv Patel is going to sit out.

The Sri Lankans, one learns, will drop Saman Jayantha and Lasith Malinga to allow for Murali — buoyed by the ICC initiating a “research” on the slow bowlers, the result of a row created by the doosra ban — and Vaas to come back.

Meanwhile, one of the heroes of Tuesday’s win, Irfan Pathan, went along with Dravid on the keyed-up bit. He added: “Something is going to be worked out for (Sanath) Jayasuriya... Nothing, though, comes easy... Mehnat karna parta hai...”

Well, this 19-year-old is no shirker.

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