A long 28-year wait came to an end as India displayed iron will and enormous guts to hold the coveted World Cup trophy aloft for the second time in 28 years with a six-wicket win over Sri Lanka in a riveting final played at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai Saturday April 2, 201.
|"I took a quite few decisions tonight, if we hadn't won I would have been asked quite a few questions: Why no Ashwin, Why sreesanth. Why no Yuvraj, Why did I bat ahead?! That pushed me and motivated to do well.The pressure had got to me in the previous games. In this game, I wanted to bat up the order and Gary backed me and by the senior players. I had a point to prove to myself. Virat and Gautam batted brillantly; lots of singles. Then with the help of bit of dew , we put pressure on the spinners. I would have liked Gautam to go on and get that big hundred."
- Mahendra Singh Dhoni
"Couldn't have asked for anything more than this. Winning the world cup is the proudest moment of my life. Thanks to my team-mates. Without them, nothing would have happened. I couldn't control my tears of joy. Thanks to the support staff. Thanks to Mike Horn, who has helped with the expectations and pressure. The team stuck together in the rough phases and proved people wrong who doubted our ability. Self belief has been always there but in the last two years, we have been very consistent. It's been great honour to be part of this team. "
- Sachin Tendulkar
"It means the world to me. I have been part of the three world-cups. This is for the nation. Thank you very much, we love you. This cup is for the people. Love you India!"
- Harbhajan Singh
"This goes out to all the people of India. This is my first world cup; I can't ask for more. Tendulkar has carried the burden of nation for 21 years; It was time we carried him. Chak de India!"
- Virat Kohli
Seemingly staring down the barrel at 31/2 with celebrated openers Virender Sehwag (0) and Sachin Tendulkar (18) back in the pavilion, the lion-hearted never-say-die Indians roared back on the heroics of Gautam Gambhir (97) and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni (91 not out, 79 balls) and their 109 run partnership that snatched the game away from Sri Lanka before a wildly jubilant capacity crowd of 33,000 at the Wankhede Stadium.
Set a stiff asking rate of 5.5 after Mahela Jayawardene struck a classy unbeaten century, pulling Sri Lanka out of a sluggish start to a challenging 274/6, the Indians got to the winning run with 10 balls to spare, and Dhoni smacking Nuwan Kulasekara for a mighty six into the stands, sparking delirious scenes of celebration across the park and around a jubiliant nation. It was India's second victory on their third appearance in the final.
As Man of the Match, Dhoni defied back pain to lead from the front when it mattered the most. The entire Indian team ran into the ground and the celebratory scenes were reminiscent of the Indian summer at Lord's on June 25, 1983 when Kapil Dev and his boys surprised the world by winning the big tournament with a 43-run victory over the West Indies.
The players hugged each other, broke into tears, took the stumps as souvenirs, and then lifted an emotional Sachin Tendulkar on their shoulders to start on a victory lap, as the entire stadium stood up to give a warm ovation to the cricketing heroes and crackers burst and the giant scoreboard said "Congratulations India."
But it all seemed so difficult early in the evening. Sehwag got out in the very second ball of the innings, adjudged leg before to a skidding delivery of fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
The Sri Lankans tighetend their grip as Malinga brought an abrupt end to Tendulkar's World Cup campaign by sending him back in 6.1 overs. Tendulkar, who was still waiting for his 100th international century, edged a Malinga delivery to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to stun the capacity crowd into silence.
Gambhir and Virat Kohli (35) steadied the ship with a 83-run third wicket stand as they kept up with the required rate without being unduly adventurous. However, Gambhir - on 30 - got a life as Kulasekara dropped a catch at long off. India were 68/2 and the unlucky bowler was Suraj Randiv. The missed chance proved crucial in determining the course of the game.
Kohli (69m, 49b) got out in the 22nd over, as Dilshan took a spectacular catch off his own bowling. India were 114/3 and again the crowd looked tense.
But this brought in Dhoni and with Gambhir, the duo first absorbed the pressure calmly and then built up the innings by rotating the strike. They did not miss an opportunity to punish the loose ball. The two took India beyond the 200 mark, but just when it seemed the team would coast to victory, Gambhir was dismissed three short of a deserving hundred. It was a moment of sheer rush of blood, as the Delhi left-hander charged down for a slog, but missed it to see his stumps rattled off Thisara Perera. India were 223/4 and the duo had batted for 118 balls.
The in-form Yuvraj Singh (21 not out, 24 balls, 2x4), later adjudged Man of the Tournament, appropriately was with his captain when the team scored the remaining runs with a 54-run stand. As the two moved closer to the target, tension became palpable, while the cheers also increased.
With four overs left, national song Vande Mataram reverberated on the public address system, and finally team India clinched the win in 48.2 overs.
Earlier, the Sri Lankans initially found the going tough against some accurate bowling sent by India, particularly Zaheer Khan, who began with three maidens.
As wickets fell at regular intervals at the other end, Sri Lankan vice captain Jayawardene anchored the innings to score his fourth World Cup century and remained unbeaten on 103 of 88 balls with 13 fours. The Sri Lankan innings revolved around four good partnerships and Jayawardene was involved in three of them.
Perera (22 not out of nine balls) hit a cameo and ended the innings with a flourish by hoisting Zaheer over square leg for an overboundary.
The Sri Lankans who had scored only 105/2 at the half way stage, sped up in the last 10 overs, when 91 runs came. They also made good use of the batting Powerplay, blazing 63 runs in the last five overs.
Upul Tharanga c Sehwag b Khan 2
Tillakaratne Dilshan b Harbhajan Singh 33
Kumar Sangakkara c Dhoni b Yuvraj Singh 48
Mahela Jayawardene not out 103
Thilan Samaraweera lbw b Yuvraj Singh 21
Chamara Kapugedera c Raina b Khan 1
Nuwan Kulasekara run out 32
Nuwan Perera not out 22
Extras: (b-1, lb-3, w-6, nb-2) 12
Total: (for six wickets in 50 overs) 274
Fall of wickets:
1-17 (Tharanga, 6.1 overs), 2-60 (Dilshan, 16.3), 3-122 (Sangakkara, 27.5), 4-179 (Samaraweera, 38.1), 5-182 (Kapugedera, 39.5), 6-248 (Kulasekara, 47.6)
Zaheer Khan 10-3-60-2
Munaf Patel 9-0-41-0
Harbhajan Singh 10-0-50-1
Yuvraj Singh 10-0-49-2
Sachin Tendulkar 2-0-12-0
Virat Kohli 1-0-6-0
Virender Sehwag lbw b Malinga 0
Sachin Tendulkar c Sangakkara b Malinga 18
Gautam Gambhir b Perera 97
Virat Kohli c & b Dilshan 35
Mahendra Singh Dhoni not out 91
Yuvraj Singh not out 21
Extras: (b-1, lb-6, w-8) 15
Total: (for four wickets in 48.2 overs) 277
Fall of wickets:
1-0 (Sehwag, 0.2 overs), 2-31 (Tendulkar, 6.1), 3-114 (Kohli, 21.4), 4-223 (Gambhir, 41.2)
Lasith Malinga 9-0-42-2
Nuwan Kulasekara 8.2-0-64-0
Thilan Perera 9-0-55-1
Suraj Randiv 9-0-43-0
Tillakaratne Dilshan 5-0-27-1
Muttiah Muralitharan 8-0-39-0
Toss: Sri Lanka, who chose to bat
Man of the Match: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Umpires: Aleem Dar (Pakistan) and Simon Taufel (Australia)
TV umpire: Ian Gould (England)
Match referee: Jeff Crowe (New Zealand)
Image (c) Gettyimages.com
Imagine by Kulbir Bhalla
Chak de India... by Dr. Kumarendra Mallick
The Power of a Game Called Cricket by G Swaminathan