Sunday, April 3, 2011

world cup final

Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit an unbeaten 91 and Gautam Gambhir 97 as India lifted their second World Cup crown with a six-wicket win in an enthralling final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai.

Mahela Jayawardene scored a unbeaten century to guide Sri Lanka to 274 for six but India overhauled that score with ten balls remaining.

28 years after Kapil Dev lifted the Prudential World Cup, Indian skipper Dhoni did the honours in front of a packed Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

India’s innings got off to the worst possible start as Lasith Malinga trapped Virender Sehwag LBW for a duck on the second ball of the first over. He struck again in the seventh over, this time inducing an edge from Sachin Tendulkar as India were reduced to 31 for two. He scored 18 runs off 14 balls and hit two fours in what could have been his last ODI. Gambhir and Virat Kohli then steadied the innings with an 83-run partnership. Their stand lasted nearly fifteen overs and they provided the base for the victory to be built upon. Kohli was finally out caught by a magnificent effort by Tillakaratne Dilshan who dove to his left and completed a one-handed catch.

Gambhir carried on unflustered though and was joined in by Dhoni. Many questioned the logic of demoting Yuvraj Singh to number five especially as the Indian skipper hasn’t been in the best of forms. But he answered his critics with aplomb, as the left-right duo put up 109 runs for the fourth wicket. They countered the dual threat of Muttiah Muralitharan and Malinga as the dew too kicked in the latter overs. Gambhir played a watchful knock of 97 runs off 122 balls, never looking uncomfortable.

His knock included nine hits to the fence and he perished trying to hit a tenth boundary. The fact that he was mighty close to his hundred got lost for a moment as he charged to Thisara Perera and got bowled.

Dhoni though pushed up the accelerator as India sped towards the final mark. He struck 91 not out off 79 balls, including eight fours and two sixes, answering the critics who had been crawling on his back for a poor string of scores. When the end came, with ten balls to spare, man-of-the-tournament Yuvraj Singh was with him, on 21not out off 24 balls.

Sri Lanka won a dubious toss. At the first instance, none of the two captains or match referee Jeff Crowe seemed to have heard the call made at the time of tossing. They got it right on the second toss-up and Kumar Sangakkara elected to bat first. It was a slow start for the best opening partnership in the tournament. Upul Tharanga and Dilshan were tied in knots by Zaheer Khan, who bowled a magnificent opening spell. In five overs, he bowled two maidens, gave away just the six runs and took the wicket of Tharanga, caught by Sehwag diving to his right.

From 17 for one in the seventh over, Dilshan and Sangakkara nearly built from scratch and put up 43 runs for the second wicket. Harbhajan Singh came in second change to bowl and got Dilshan to play onto his stumps. That brought out Mahela Jayawardene in the 17th over and he laid down the marker for the Indians defying poor form. He alone cultivated the runs and protected the middle order which could have collapsed after Sangakkara was out to Yuvraj, caught behind by Dhoni in the 28th over.

Thilan Samaraweera was out for 21 and Chamara Kapugedera lasted only six balls as the worst seemed close for the Lankans. But Perera, brought into the match at the last moment in place of Angelo Mathews, played the role to the hilt as the batting powerplay yielded 63 runs. The last ten overs of the Lankan innings garnered 91 runs even as Mahela Jayawardene completed a stellar hundred. He reached the century mark off 84 balls including thirteen fours, but it wasn’t enough on the day.

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