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Nowhere to match subcontinent 'buzz' insists Sangakkara

 MUMBAI: Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara said nowhere else compared to the subcontinent when it came to playing cricket, as he looked forward to a World Cup final against India.

The Asian rivals will meet in the climax of the six-week competition at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday in front of a sell-out 33,000 crowd, with millions more fans across the region set to be glued to their television sets.

"It's been a great tournament," Sangakkara said of a World Cup co-hosted by India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

"I always say the sub-continent is the place to play cricket in. There's no other place that can match the buzz, the excitement, the hype around the game, the passion and the love for the game as well.

"When you play a tournament of this magnitude here, it kind of lifts the entire occasion and makes that occasion a lot more glorious."

This World Cup began amidst dire warnings about the health of the 50-over game, seen by some observers as looking tired in comparison to Twenty20 cricket and with five-day Test matches still regarded as the pinnacle of the sport.

But there have been several thrilling games, mainly involving England, with India and England unable to be separated after 100 overs in a tie in Bangalore and non-Test nation Ireland defeating Andrew Strauss's side at the same venue.

"The health of 50-over cricket is as robust as ever," Sangakkara insisted. "You saw some of the best games ever played in this tournament and it's important to understand that cricket is healthy in all three formats and all three formats must exist in harmony."

Sri Lanka, like India, will be trying to win the World Cup for only the second time and Sangakkara challenged his side to create their own place in history alongside the team that beat Australia in the 1996 final.

"The inspiration's always been there," said Sangakkara of a 1996 team where star spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is the only survivor in the current squad. "Everything that's come afterwards has been because of that positive factor.

"For us, 1996 belongs to that particular team. Since then there have been other teams trying to forge their own way, trying to forge their own path and leave their own legacy for Sri Lanka cricket.

"I think Sri Lanka has kicked on from that, achieved great heights in cricket and a World Cup's a World Cup in 1996 or 2011. It means the same thing to everyone to win it."

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2011