Key Players to Watch in Tri-Nation Tournament Final

Antoinette MullerFeatured ColumnistJuly 10, 2013

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 20:  Supporters of India  during the ICC Champions Trophy Semi-Final match between India and Sri Lanka at the SWALEC Stadium on June 20, 2013 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Michael Steele/Getty Images

India and Sri Lanka's clashes have become somewhat of the El Clasico of the cricket world. That's not because of their rivalry but rather because of their frequency. The two sides square off, once again, in the final of the Tri-Nation Series on Thursday. 

There are a couple of key clashes in the contest. We've picked some of the key players to watch in the final. 

Bhuvneshwar vs. Malinga

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been a lovely addition to the Indian lineup since he made his debut last year. He might look somewhat innocuous, but he manages to get the ball really close to the stumps. He's the top wicket-taker in this series, and his 4-8 against Sri Lanka was instrumental in getting India to the final.

On the opposite end is Lasith Malinga. His toe-crunching yorkers are enough to give anyone nightmares, but his record against India is poor. In fact, India have made Malinga their bunny. 

His bowling average against India is over 40. That's almost double his overall 26.44 average. He's played 30 ODIs against them and taken 36 wickets in those games. He might still pick up the odd stick, but he is nowhere near as economical against India.

Jayawardene vs. Kohli

Virat Kohli is learning fast in his captaincy role. He doesn't seem too fazed by the extra pressure and averages over 90 in the tournament. Mahela Jayawardene may no longer be Sri Lanka's captain, but he has admitted to still helping out Angelo Mathews when he struggles.

Jayawardene averages 94.65 in this series, and, when on song, he can be one of the most stunning players to watch. The two are the prize scalps of the teams, and their wickets will be the highest bounty.


Spinners vs. Spinners

Rangana Herath is a cunning spinner, and he's adapted reasonably well to the Caribbean conditions. He doesn't really have anybody to back him up, though. India, meanwhile, have Ravi Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin in their arsenal. They have both struggled, though, with their averages pushing 40. Whether they can pull it back and perform a holding role will be crucial.