With hindsight, who else was it going to be? An India and Sri Lanka final suddenly looks so predictable and India, the 8/13 home favs (Coral), will be quite confident of winning their first World Cup since 1983.
On one side you have Sachin Tendulkar, the Little Master, the greatest batsmen of the modern era who has record after record but no World Cup to his name. On the other you have Muttiah Muralitharan, the world record wicket taker, who retires from all international cricket after this final and will battle on despite injuries. It’s fairytale stuff.
Tendulkar, who was scratchy and very very lucky to reach 50, nevermind 85, in his last game, is Stan James’ 3/1 fav to top score for India and bet365’s clear 6/1 fav to be man of the match. He could only manage 4 in the final in ’03 while his partner, Verinder Sehwag, blasted 82. Sehwag is 7/2 with Totesport to top score.
Murali, who hobbled his way through the semi, is 3/1 (Ladbrokes) to take the most wickets for Sri Lanka and 10/1 (Boylesports) to be man of the match on his last ever appearance. He is the only man from the 1996 World Cup winning team but in the ’07 final it was Malinga who did the damage (despite losing) and he is 13/5 fav with bodog to repeat that.
Backers are obviously convinced by the home advantage for India and the ‘Tendulkar effect’ but, apart from the good win over the Aussies, India have failed to truly impress. They allowed Pakistan far too many chances, which they didn’t take, and the same approach against Dilshan, Tharanga and co could be lethal.
It’s pretty knife edge stuff but preference, without odds, would go for Sri Lanka so with 8/5 (Sportingbet) about Sangakkara’s men, the bet is definitely on the ‘away’ side.