Sri Lanka has been playing cricket like chess. They have been playing upto potential on the field like some other teams, but you’d notice a scheming strategist behind their World Cup campaign. We’ve discussed their strategy earlier too and had always backed them to be the finalists.
In fact, New Zealand too copied them and kept out Styris and Oram out of their match against Australia – a wonderful copy – since if they were to meet up Australia again they’d have a different team than the one that lost to Australia in the Super 8 ensuring that there is no psychological advantage to the winning team.
Finally, Australia and Sri Lanka are in the finals. Full marks to both for a relentless campaign. If you see at both, there is a difference in the way they approach the matches. Australia approaches them in an office like fashion, playing to heir full potential every time. Here lies the difference. Sri Lanka plays a different game in crucial matches. Murali’s grin widens, as does his seriousness. Vaas and Malinga don’t give even little room in the first 10 overs. And this strategy has not been exposed to the Australian openers yet. Sri Lanka also tightens up the screws in the middle overs through Murali and Jayasuriya (who looks the easiest target to the batsmen between these tough bowlers and hence batsmen try to go for the kill here and wickets start falling). Sri Lanka and Australia are the only teams that don’t try to contain the score, their only aim is to get the team out.
It’s not about playing to potential, it’s more about not exposing your cards, especially the Joker (Lasitha Malinga in this case).
There are 2 theoretical possibilities:
1. The Joker plays to potential and wrecks the Australian batting line up
2. The Australian Team focuses on wrecking the Joker so much, that the other bowlers wreck the Team.
It’s not whether they may win or not, but it is in their best interest not to show their Joker, who incidentally is also their least undocumented and studied weapon. This may not work for weaker teams, but when you have Vaas and Murali in the attack, you can take these chances.
In comparison, Australia, is psychologically weaker in the spin department – with the exit of Shane Warne, the big match player. Hogg, who is kind of a similar unexposed/ undocumented weapon on their end, doesn’t exactly categorize as a “different” bowler in terms as Murali on Malinga would. And without the big stage exposure – I expect Jayasuriya (if McGrath doesn’t get him) to take him to the cleaners. It’s going to be an interesting battle nevertheless.
Onedayers.com has a different Ranking System than the ICC and am sure if you go by this, you’d be better off at predicting in the Twenty20 World Cup. I used the same system to predict the following:
It seeded Ireland at No. 6 before the world cup
It predicted Bangladesh bowling attack to be one of the best in the world cup (alas their batting didn’t come up to the same standards).
It also put Sri Lanka as the team to watch for before the World Cup if Jayasuriya maintains his form.
It predicted Jayasuriya as the man to watch for!
There were no guesses but it was this ranking system that was used.
Well, in the final match I’d put my money on Sri Lanka, since both teams have a successful set of bowlers and batsmen, but Sri Lanka have a huge variety in their bowling.