India bathe in WC glory


Hand Sri Lanka 6-wicket defeat in Mumbai final

CLASS OF 2011: Members of the victorious India cricket team with the World Cup after defeating Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai yesterday.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni kept the party on for a billion fans as India clinched the World Cup for the second time after a sixwicket victory in the keenly-contested final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium here last night.

After Gautam Gambhir’s late dismissal gave Sri Lanka a glimmer of hope, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh calmly took India to the target, the whole of India erupting to the sound of Dhoni’s whack off Nuwan Kulasekara off the second ball of the 49th over.

As fireworks went off in the night sky of India’s tinsel town, it was touching to see Yuvraj hugging Sachin Tendulkar and shedding some tears. It was also an emotional moment for coach Gary Kirsten who was given a lap of honour too.

But it is now Dhoni after Kapil Dev who brought glory after 28 years for the cricket-mad nation. India started the journey as hot favourites in the game’s biggest event because of their vaunted batting line-up and they finished like champions as they rode on Gautam Gambhir’s 97 and Dhoni’s well-composed unbeaten 91 to chase down Sri Lanka’s fighting total of 274 at the loss of four wickets in 48.2 overs. There could have been nothing better than the way Indian skipper Dhoni finished the game by whacking a six over long-on against Nuwan Kulasekara and got the man-of-the-match award for his scintillating batting in the grand finale.

All eyes however were fixed on local hero Tendulkar as the pre-match talk centred on the little master and spin legend Muttiah Muralidaran. But one thing was for sure that people would not remember the 2011 final for these two great cricketers but for the gutsy Indian captain.

Dhoni, in a way, gave the perfect gift to Tendulkar and completed the genius’s legacy, giving him the trophy he craved for so long.

The master blaster failed to live up to the big occasion to craft his hundredth international 100 as the 37-year-old batsman was dismissed for only 18 runs, rather it was Gambhir and Dhoni who overshadowed Mahela Jayawardene’s classy unbeaten hundred to guide their side to the world’s top prize.

The full-house partisan crowd cheered every success of the Indian team in the field and apparently the home support inspired Dhoni’s boys to lift the trophy but for one occasion the crowd was silent when Tendulkar became second victim of Lankan paceman Lasith Malinga, edging the ball to keeper Kumar Sangakkara, who gave the first breakthrough removing dangerman Virender Sehwag for a second-ball duck.

India however proved their point why they are considered the best batting line-up in the world. Young Virat Kohli joined Gambhir to steady the ship associating 83 runs in the third wicket stand as well as bring back the enthusiasm among the jubilant fans. Occasional spinner Tillakaratne Dilshan brought his team back in contention by taking a superb return catch to send back Kohli for 35 runs, but that only brought the Indian skipper to the middle to take the game away from the islanders.

But Sri Lanka captain Sangakkara must rue for missing the stumping of Dhoni off Dilshan on the very second ball while Ruwan Kulasekara dropped Gambhir, who missed the hundred for only three runs after being bowled by Thisara Perera, at long-off while the batsman was on 30.

Man-of-thetournament Yuvraj Singh then came to finish the job in style with his skipper, who led from the front with a 79-ball 91 that contained eight boundaries and two big sixes.

Earlier it was former Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene who stood tall in the big occasion to give his team a defendable total on a hard and true surface. The experienced campaigner played his best innings in the tournament when his team needed it most after a sluggish start. The right-hander’s priceless unbeaten 103 came from 88 deliveries and contained 13 boundaries.

Jayawardene showed pure class during his well-composed knock and reached the magical figure in style by hitting two consecutive boundaries against Zaheer Khan, who bowled an impressive first spell with three consecutive maidens in first three overs.

He executed the first boundary by cutting it over and in the gap between short thirdman and point and then smashed the second one over mid-off to prove that he saved his best in the tournament for the big day.

Sri Lanka made maximum use of the batting Powerplay, which they took in the last five overs, by hitting 63 runs, and Perera deserved some praise beside his senior partner for his 9-ball 22 and he finished the job with a last-ball six that was battered from a good length over mid-wicket.

Captain Sangakkara, dashing Dilshan, Thilan Samaraweera and Nuwan Kulasekara came up with some contribution but Jayawardene, only the sixth man to hit a hundred on the game’s biggest stage, almost single handedly controlled the Sri Lankan innings.

After a little drama, Sangakkara won the second toss and has decided to bat first but Zaheer’s brilliant opening spell jittered the Lankan innings as they amassed only nine runs from first five overs. Upul Tharanga struggled from the very beginning and finally was caught by Virender Sehwag at slip off Zaheer.

Sangakkara joined Dilshan to repair the damage by associating 43 runs in the second wicket stand before the latter was being bowled by Harbhajan Singh. With 60 for 2 on the scoreboard in 16.3 overs, Jayawardene came to bat with his skipper Sangakkara and they calmed down the innings by sharing 62 runs in the third wicket stand. But the Lankan innings lost its way and suffered a huge blow when captain Sangakkara was caught behind off Yuvraj Singh for a 67-ball 48, the second highest score in the innings that featured five boundaries.

Finally the tail-enders gave Jayawardene tremendous support to ensure a competitive total on the board.

Zaheer conceded only six runs in his first five overs but completed with an expensive figure of 2 for 60. Two wickets haul however helped him to share the top bowling spot in the competition with Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi as both claimed 21 wickets.

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