Dhoni insisted he was taking nothing for granted ahead of the world champions' clash with hosts England. -Photo by Reuters
CARDIFF: India may be entering the Champions Trophy final on the back of the only unbeaten run in the tournament but captain MS Dhoni insisted he was taking nothing for granted ahead of the world champions' clash with hosts England at Edgbaston on Sunday.
India thrashed Asian rivals Sri Lanka, the team they beat to win the 2011 World Cup final on home soil in Mumbai, by eight wickets in Cardiff on Thursday.
After Dhoni won an important toss in overcast conditions, excellent seam bowling from man-of-the-match Ishant Sharma (three for 30), Bhuvaneshwar Kumar (one for 18) and Umesh Yadav put a brake on Sri Lanka's scoring from the start, with the islanders struggling to 181 for eight off 50 overs, with only captain Angelo Mathews (51) and Mahela Jayawardene (38) making notable scores.
India then cruised to their victory target of 182 with 15 overs to spare thanks to 68 from opener Shikhar Dhawan, who extended his record as the tournament's leading scorer to 332 runs, at an average of more than 110, and Virat Kohli's 58 not out.
England, bidding for a first major one-day international title, looked in fine form in defeating South Africa by seven wickets at The Oval in Wednesday's first semi-final.
“I think they are a very good side, like each and every side when it comes to the Champions Trophy, which means all of them are strong enough to beat anyone on that particular day and win the trophy,” Dhoni said.
“England are a very good side. We have played quite often in the last couple of years so we know the same amount about them and they know the same about us,” added Dhoni, whose side have eight of their last 10 one-dayers against England, albeit all those matches were in India.
But Sharma, asked if an England top order including captain Alastair Cook, Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, known collectively for solid rather than spectacular run-making, was the most dangerous India had faced in this competition, replied: “I don't think so.
“If you are bowling in a good area no batsmen will enjoy playing you, that is what we have been doing in the last five games and we will do the same thing in the final.
“We have played good cricket until now, we don't need to change anything. We will stick to the patterns and our strengths and we will keep doing the same thing in the final.”
Sri Lanka skipper Mathews said the toss had been vital.
“It was a bad day at the office, the toss was vital I thought,” he said.
“The wicket was swinging and seaming so the batters were finding it hard to time the ball, especially with the two new balls. It was not coming on; it was a bit two-paced and there was a bit of lateral movement.
“It got a bit easier but I thought 182 was just below par. With the Indian batting line-up at least 250 would have been a good score on that.
“We are disappointed and the whole nation is disappointed, but I'm also sure the whole nation and the team is also quite happy that we reached the semi-finals, because it's the best eight teams and we competed against the best.
“Unfortunately once again we choked in the semi-finals against India.”
Asked to pick a winner, Mathews said the final was too close to call.
“That's a toughie. Both teams are quite even and on that day whoever does less mistakes will win the game,” he said.
Meanwhile Mathews insisted he was not worried by two incidents of anti-Sri Lankan government demonstrators invading the pitch.
“I was not really concerned. We as cricketers are not really bothered about what is happening around,” he said.
“I think it was unfortunate there was a reaction today after the Oval game (Sri Lanka beat Australia at the London ground on Monday), but I can't really comment,” Mathews added.