For Sri Lanka to guarantee glory in tonight's re-run of the ICC Champions Trophy Final at Premadasa Stadium, they must ensure they shut down Indian batting dynamo Virender Sehwag.
Sehwag, who has bludgeoned the bowling attack of all-comers in the qualifying matches of the series, appears to be the real power behind the dominance of the Indians over the past few weeks. Scoring freely and at will in every match, Sehwag appears to have no weakness to any delivery bowled below waist height, either side of the stumps. However, as was clearly seen in the match played against England, Sehwag does appear to have problems with the rising ball that cuts back into the body. Matthew Hoggard, all but shut down the Sehwag batting machine late in his innings, with short of a length deliveries coming back into the batsman, which Sehwag had difficulty in scoring from.
Obviously, the South Africans who later met the Indians in their Semi-Final, took a lot of notice of the problems Sehwag encountered playing the rising ball off the back foot against England and were able to eventually have him caught by Klusener off the bowling of Kallis with a shorter pitched delivery. Although Sehwag managed to score 59 runs from 58 balls inclusive of 10 boundaries during his innings against the Proteas, he always looked uncomfortable playing off the back foot and had it not been for the wayward bowling of Ntini, he would have been severely restricted in his scoring chances during this match.
No doubt, Sri Lanka also would have noticed Sehwag's vulnerabilities to the rising ball and if they can force him onto the back foot with the use of their seam bowlers, then they stand a very big chance of sending him back to the pavilion early in his innings. Sri Lankan seamer Dilhara Fernando, although somewhat expensive in giving away runs in the qualifying matches, has displayed a lot of variation in his bowling when thrown the ball by his captain Sanath Jayasuriya and is the perfect choice to use in the attack against Sehwag, provided he keeps his deliveries pitched well up to the batsman. With a couple of well placed fieldsmen at mid-wicket and square of the batsman, Sehwag's scoring chances should be severely limited and a chance for dismissal should present itself.
The Lankies, who have won 15 of their last 18 matches at Premadasa, will no doubt be bathing in glory once again provided they can quickly despatch the Indian run scoring machine.