All out attack
Nasser Hussain says Sri Lanka's arsenal of bowlers will make them dangerous in the World Cup final.
Last Updated: 30/03/11 10:30am
Sri Lanka's arsenal of bowlers makes them serious title challengers in Saturday's World Cup final in Mumbai, according to Nasser Hussain.
Retiring spinner Muttiah Muralitharan and paceman Lasith Malinga have taken 26 wickets between them so far in the competition, with Tillakaratne Dilshan, Ajantha Mendis, Thisara Perera and Angelo Mathews among those providing decent support.
Mendis (3-35) led the way as Sri Lanka overcame New Zealand by five wickets in Tuesday's semi-final in Colombo, but Muralitharan (2-42) stole the show in the last home international of his glittering career.
And Hussain believes that Kumar Sangakarra's team now have every chance of emulating Sri Lanka's World Cup winning side of 1996.
"India or Pakistan, if they were watching, would have wanted New Zealand to go through. Sri Lanka are such a dangerous side - they are always there come World finals," he told Sky Sports.
"They get there because of their bowlers - they have so many wicket-takers; it is amazing to be at a game of cricket where Sri Lanka are playing.
"They don't care about boundaries, they just go out and get wickets. Kumar Sangakarra is an exceptional leader of men, they've got a good, balanced side.
"They've already played in Mumbai - I covered that game where they walloped New Zealand' on their day they can beat any side.
"They've lost already to Pakistan in this tournament but there are so many issues at Mumbai that can affect the game, like a very heavy dew.
"But it's a pretty good surface and there will be a great atmosphere; an all-Asian final is exactly what this tournament wanted."
Muralitharan overcame knee and quadricep problems to play against New Zealand, but remains an injury concern ahead of the final, as is Angelo Mathews who had to bat with a runner after picking up a muscle strain.
But there is no doubt in Hussain's mind that Sri Lanka will go into Saturday's final without their champion off-spinner.
"Murali is going to be there - I'm 100 percent certain. All I will say is that in our era if you had an injury or a niggle, you took a little bit of a painkiller and you got on with it.
"One game to get through - it's the World Cup final. Your leg has got to be falling off if you are not going to play.
"You can't miss that occasion. These guys will be saying to the physio 'come on, get me there - we've got to Mumbai, I'm not going to sit and watch'.
"It's Murali's last game, Sri Lanka can go one stage further than last time; it's 1996 all over again. You've got to be have a serious injury to miss that game, surely!"
Muralitharan was given a resounding send-off from the home fans in Colombo after Sri Lanka's success and at one point was carried around the outfield by his team-mates.
"There were two things going on today - Sri Lanka trying to reach a World Cup final and the Murali story. And what a story it was," reflected Hussain.
"The last ball he bowls in one-day cricket here he gets a wicket and the lap of honour at the end was amazing. There is genuine love from this team for Murali.
"There was no-one in that team saying 'look at him, he's showboating'; it was all about Murali today and they gave him one hell of a send-off. Brilliant scenes."