Sri Lanka bat first in World Cup final

Captain Kumar Sangakkara wins the toss and elects to bat in cricket World Cup final against India in Mumbai.

Indian fans are expecting batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar to turn on the magic on his home turf [Reuters]

Kumar Sangakkara, the Sri Lankan captain, has won the toss and elected to bat in the cricket World Cup final against India at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.

India made one change to the side that beat Pakistan in the semi-final, bringing in pace bowler Shanthakumaran Sreesanth in place of the injured Ashish Nehra for the final fixture on Saturday.

Star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was declared fit to play despite niggling hamstring and knee injuries, but Sri Lanka made four changes after the semi-final against New Zealand.

Al Jazeera’s Prerna Suri in Mumbai said that the atmosphere around the stadium was “almost like a carnival”.

Many of the fans crowded outside the stadium as they could not get the tickets.

“Some of these fans are the unfortunate ones who could not get a seat in the stadium … and this has been one of the criticisms about this venue … that despite having over 32,000 seats, only 4,000 were available for the general public, most of these tickets were taken over by VIPs and politicians.

“Security is also very tight because the Indian intelligence received several inputs over the past few weeks about a possible attack by extremist groups at the stadium [and] there is a multilayered security presence here,” Suri said.

Our correspondent added that fans were still excited and looking forward to a potential Indian triumph.

Tribute to Muralitharan

In the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, Al Jazeera’s Minelle Fernandez said that there was a great deal of excitement in the city, with people driving around, many draped in the country’s flags.

“As much as this is about people rooting for the Sri Lankan team, this is also a tribute to Muttiah Muralitharan and what he has meant to Sri Lankan cricket, literally over the last 20 years.

“This match will be his last one-day international game, and Sri Lankans are very appreciative of what he has done,” Fernandez said.

Meanwhile, the Sri Lankan team made a number of changes to the team that defeated New Zealand in the semi-finals.

Batsman Chamara Kapugedera, all-rounder Thisara Perera, off-spinner Suraj Randiv and seamer Nuwan Kulasekera replaced Chamara Silva, the injured Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis.

Randiv had only been called into the squad on Thursday as cover.

The toss had to take place twice after no one heard the call from Sangakkara first time around.

Teams batting first have won seven of the nine finals since the inaugural World Cup in 1975.

Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies

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