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Ishant outlines India optimism

India will head into Sunday’s Champions Trophy final against England with full confidence in their methods, according to seamer Ishant Sharma.

Ishant led a fine bowling effort at Cardiff Wales Stadium as India restricted last-four opponents Sri Lanka to 181 for eight before easing to an emphatic eight-wicket victory on the back of half-centuries from Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli.

England now stand between the reigning world champions and a second global 50-over title in succession.

After helping his team to four wins in a row – all completed with a degree of comfort – Ishant is unsurprisingly bullish as he prepares for the tournament finale at Edgbaston.

“We have played quite good cricket until now; I don’t think we have to change anything,” said the 24-year-old, who returned 3-33 after Mahendra Singh Dhoni had elected to field under grey skies.

“We’ll stick to the plans, stick to our strengths and what we did before. I think we just carry on doing the same thing in the final.”

Speaking at the post-match presentation, Dhoni offered a more cautious appraisal of his side’s prospects.

“England are a very good side,” said India’s skipper.

“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."

Ishant has struggled for consistency throughout his international career.

Yet his performances in this tournament – earning eight wickets at 23 – have been largely impressive, something he attributes to a good run of form in the Indian Premier League.

“I think I have been bowling very well, as you could see in the IPL,” he added.

“I was in a good rhythm so I’m very confident and carrying through that momentum into the Champions Trophy.”

Ishant drew laughter from the assembled journalists when attention turned to India’s fine record against Lasith Malinga.

The Sri Lanka seamer once again struggled to impose himself on the Indian batting line-up, prompting Ishant to quip: “I think maybe our batsmen are really good.”

Angelo Mathews reflected on a dismal day for Sri Lanka, summed up by a morning that saw Dinesh Chandimal ruled out with an injury and Tillakaratne Dilshan retiring hurt amid a flurry of early Indian wickets.

“It was a bad day at the office,” said Sri Lanka’s captain, whose battling 51 ultimately proved immaterial.

“Initially, Chandimal was not declared fit and also the toss was very vital I thought.

“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.

“And also to add salt to the wound (there was) Dilshan’s injury. He was batting so well and unfortunately he got injured.”

Batting appeared a more comfortable pursuit once India came out after the interval in pursuit of 182.

“Most of the pitches, wherever we have played, it has got easier batting second,” reasoned Mathews.

“I thought 182 was just below par. It was never enough on that wicket.”

Sri Lanka are the only team to have played both finalists and, although they defeated England by seven wickets in the group stage, Mathews believes Sunday’s game is too close to call.

“That’s a bit of a toughie,” he replied when asked who would emerge victorious.

“Both teams are quite even. On that day whoever does less mistakes will win the game.”

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