India beats Sri Lanka by six wickets in a exciting final to deliver World Cup glory to their cricket-mad population for the first time since 1983.
Sri Lanka smashed 91 from their last 10 overs to post 274-6 in Mumbai, with Mahela Jayawardene making a superb 103.
India lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early on but Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Dhoni rebuilt the innings.
Gambhir was out for 97, but captain Dhoni’s superb unbeaten 91 saw India to a famous win with 10 balls to spare.
The captain, struggling for form throughout the tournament, played the innings of his life and sealed the victory with a phenomenal straight six that sailed high into the stands, providing the catalyst for euphoric celebrations in the Wankhede Stadium.
Tendulkar’s early dismissal for 18 ensured there was to be no fairytale 100th international century for Mumbai’s favourite son.
But wonderful innings from Gambhir and Dhoni ensured the "Little Master" can finally get his hands on the sport’s ultimate prize at the sixth attempt as India became the first host nation to win the tournament.
Their partnership had reached 83 when Kohli got a leading edge to a Tillakaratne Dilshan delivery and was brilliantly caught one-handed by the bowler himself.
Dhoni, whose previous highest score at the tournament was 34, took the brave decision to promote himself up the batting order above Yuvraj and after a watchful start he started to find his range on his favoured off side.
The right-hander’s partnership with the left-handed Gambhir kept the Sri Lanka bowlers guessing and gradually the duo chipped away at the total.
After taking the score past 200, Dhoni required treatment for a side strain but the skipper did not lose any focus as he leant back and chopped Muralitharan through the off side for four.
Without ever batting with the fluency of Jayawardene, Gambhir worked his way to within three of a famous hundred before he was clean bowled by Thisara Perera to give Sri Lanka hope.
With the score on 241-4, Sri Lanka thought they had run out Dhoni when Chamara Kapugadera’s throw hit the stumps but with replays inconclusive, the India skipper was reprieved.
After 46 overs, Sangakkara made the surprise decision to throw the ball to Kulasekara instead of the clearly disgruntled Muralitharan and the tactic back-fired as India helped themselves to 11 runs.
The same number followed from Malinga’s next over to put India on the brink of victory, before Yuvraj Singh took a single to give Dhoni the strike with four more runs needed.
The wicket-keeper batsman’s stunning final blow provided a fitting end to a memorable final.
Article viewed at: Oye! Times at www.oyetimes.com