WE ARE THE WORLD CHAMPIONS!
Mumbai: India beat Sri Lanka by six wickets to win the World Cup after a long long hiatus of 28 years to set the biggest party on the globe. The names Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni have been written in the history books as the immortals of the game with a sea of over a billion cricket worshippers hailing the ultimate day of cricketing immortality for the team that deserved it the most.
India beat reigning champions Australia, routed the spirited Pakistanis and overcame the Sri Lankan tsunami to wrap their hands around the trophy that had eluded them since 1983. A fitting tribute to the God of Cricket ‘Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar’.
Cometh the hour cometh the man, Indian skipper MS Dhoni had saved his best for the last, carving a brilliant innings to win the ultimate glory for his nation amidst the drought of his big innings.
Here’s how it unfolded, the last six overs unfolded the impossible which can’t be expressed in words.
WICKET! 41st to 44th Over: India 240-4 (Dhoni 69, Yuvraj 6 ) Gautam Gambhir broke a billion hearts along with his own, getting out at 97 runs to a Perera special. He came down the track and missed, to bring out the wrecker of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh on the crease.
The best SIX came off the bat of the Indian skipper MS Dhoni, a reminiscence of his ‘helicopter shot’. It was the stroke of a genius that got India edging Sri Lanka in the run-rate game. The 44th over saw 8 runs being scored. Adrenaline pumping full-on.
36th to 40th Over: India 221-3 (Gambhir 96, Dhoni 59) 6000th ODI run for MSD! Dhoni slammed a brilliant fifty off just 52 balls to keep India in hunt in a tricky chase. A broken bat came to the fore as Gambhir’s blade took the beating beyond comprehension, the willow giving way but not the spirit.
32nd to 35th Over: India 183-3 (Gambhir 88, Dhoni 31) The Indian caravan is rolling with full fervor and we love every moment of it. The 35th over saw 8 runs being scored, much to the joy of all those who’ve spent an arm and a leg to see the final on big screens today. Three cheers for Metro cities!
150 crossed! 29th to 31st Over: India 157-3 (Gambhir 77, Dhoni 17) India were bringing the house down with the sublime shot making on the crease at Wankhede as the duo of Dhoni and Gambhir came into their own.
25th to 28th Over: India 142-3 (Gambhir 74, Dhoni 6) Malinga was introduced back into the attack, with the hopes of making another breakthrough in the Indian camp. He could not recreate the magic however, with the Indian batsmen continuing with the good work.
Wicket, Gauti’s 50, India past 100! 19th to 24th Over: India 122-3 (Gambhir 59, Dhoni 1) Tillakaratne Dilshan struck for Sri Lanka as he removed Virat Kohli, who was playing well for his 35. India had crossed the 100-run mark in the process, setting up a mouth watering finale.
16th to 18th Over: India 96-2 (Gambhir 47, Kohli 24) A few near misses, a few good shots. The match is evenly poised with both the teams looking for the right moment to prance at the prey.
13th to 15th Over: India 81-2 (Gambhir 40, Kohli 19) A good patch saw the home team clawing their way back out of the cliff. Delhi boys have rekindled the hopes of World Cup immortality and the stadium is ready to erupt when Gambhir slams his fifty. Just a matter of time now.
9th to 12th Over: India 61-2 (Gambhir 28, Kohli 13) The young brigade has taken the charge with Gauti slamming fours to ease the pain of the stalwarts’ departure. Virat joined the bandwagon, saying it’s not over till the fat lady sings mate!
Meanwhile, there’s a minor war in the office over the opening of another bottle of cola as the last time it resulted in the Maestro’s departure. Superstitions, superstitions.
WICKET OF THE MASTER! 6th to 8th Over: India 33-2 (Gambhir 13, Kohli 0) Sachin Tendulkar was claimed by Malinga, sending tremors the size of the Japanese tsunami across the length and breadth of India. This can be classified as the worst start to the World Cup final by India ever. Their main batsmen back in the stables in such a cheap fashion.
5th to 6th Over: India 26-1 (Tendulkar 18, Gambhir 7) Thisara Perera bowled the first four dot balls well Gambhir hit a boundary to spoil his over a bit at the end. A few hits did middle the bat but the Sri Lankans were largely on cue.
2nd to 4th Over: India 26-1 (Tendulkar 18, Gambhir 7) Sachin Tendulkar erased the early folly with a flurry of boundaries.
WICKET! 1st over: India 4-1 (Tendulkar 0, Gambhir 4) Tragedy struck the Indian dressing room early as Delhi blaster Virender Sehwag was out for a duck to Malinga’s pace. A terrible performance at the biggest stage.
The Target Sri Lanka posted a solid 274/6 at the end of their stipulated overs, primarily due to the mighty effort of Mahela Jayawardene who slammed his 14th ODI hundred off just 84 deliveries, making mincemeat out of the Indian speedsters in the last few overs in particular.
Zaheer seemed to be missing his pathetic bowling display from the 2003 WC final as he gave away 17 precious runs in the 48th over, setting the stage for the Sri Lankans to put some pressure on them during the run chase. He wasn’t fully satisfied with the effort, so his last over fetched another 18 runs, fulltosses being the norm. A sad goodbye to his World Cup campaign indeed, he looked a shadow of the highest wicket taker as the statistics showed him to be.
45th to 47th Over: Sri Lanka 231-5 (Jayawardene 90, Kulasekara 25) Boundaries came in plenty as the batsmen found the middle of the bat more often than not. Jayawardene neared his 100 with some spanking shots as the total moved towards a 250. Munaf was punished for 11 runs from his over.
REVIEW! 200 crossed! 41st to 44th Over: Sri Lanka 205-5 (Jayawardene 77, Kulasekara 12) Munaf Patel was in the thick of action, almost getting Kulasekara out as the desion stayed in the batsman’s favour after going upstairs. It was too difficult to judge him out with no clear edges or deviations past the blade.
REVIEW…OUT! 38th to 40th Over: Sri Lanka 183-5 (Jayawardene 67, Kulasekara 1) Yuvraj Singh got Thilan Samaraweera (21) out at a time when he had forged a vital partnership. He was given not out, India asked for a review and thank god, the decision was overturned, giving Yuvi his second scalp of the day.
The 40th over saw Zaheer becoming the joint highest wicket taker of the tournament as he got Chamara Kapugedera (1) caught by Raina. Sri Lanka’s half team was back into the pavilion with the Indian bowlers looking to tighten the noose in the death overs.
35th to 37th Over: Sri Lanka 171-3 (Jayawardene 60, Samaraweera 19) The duo continued with their dogged effort against the Indian spinners, rotating the strike effectively. Frustration building up in the Indian camp and my cabin area!
Mahela’s fifty, Mt 150 scaled - 33rd and 34th Over: Sri Lanka 155-3 (Jayawardene 50, Samaraweera 15) Sachin Tendulkar came to bowl a few turning ones with the Indian fan brigade hoping for his golden arm to get a Lankan scalp in the process. Not now, the bats on the turf said. Mahela started looking ominous with his quick fifty in trying circumstances and also took the total past 150-run mark.
REVIEW! 31st and 32nd Over: Sri Lanka 143-3 (Jayawardene 42, Samaraweera 12) Mahela pitched in with a boundary now and then. Sreesanth proving to be expensive and wicketless, not the best way to silence critics I say. The 32nd over saw a review being taken by reluctant Dhoni, only to be returned with a no from the umpire god upstairs. Good decision by the umpire gave another life to Mahela Jayawardene.
29th and 30th Over: Sri Lanka 132-3 (Jayawardene 34, Samaraweera 9) Building process ongoing for the batsmen with the Indian bowlers breathing down their neck. I hear calls for a quick snack from my peers, me frantically typing the action. Ah, the glory.
YUVIIII WICKET! 27th and 28th Over: Sri Lanka 122-3 (Jayawardene 33) Sachin was the man for whom the cheers came thick and fast in the 27th, as he made a brilliant save in the deep. Yuvraj came alive in the next over, claiming captain Sangakkara (48) with a turner that went into the hands of wicketkeeper MS Dhoni. WOW, India are in it.
25th and 26th Over: Sri Lanka 111-2 (Sangakkara 40, Jayawardene 30) Things have gotten monotonous for both the teams, but the one thing that’s building up is the half-centurion partnership between the duo.
100 scored - 23rd and 24th Over: Sri Lanka 100-2 (Sangakkara 36, Jayawardene 23) No major action in the two overs. The only heartening news coming for the Sri Lankan fans as their team registered 100 runs on the board.
21st and 22nd Over: Sri Lanka 94-2 (Sangakkara 32, Jayawardene 21) Runs came in bits and pieces in the 21st over. Yuvraj was introduced into the attack in the 22nd, with the thought that his golden arm would reap some benefits today as well. Mahela put pressure on the spinner right away with a pull that went past the boundary ropes. 8 from the over.
19th and 20th Over: Sri Lanka 83-2 (Sangakkara 27, Jayawardene 15) Jaya hit a boundary off Harbhajan, the first in six overs to ease some pressure off the Lankan tigers and followed it up with another one in the last ball as the run-rate looked like a problem area for his team. The 20th over saw Sree beating the batsman, only to be heartbroken as the slip was taken off on the previous ball. Some words of ‘wisdom’ from his mouth also fell on the Lankan batsmen in the corresponding deliveries.
WICKET NUMER 2! 17th and 18th Over: Sri Lanka 65-2 (Sangakkara 20, Jayawardene 4) Bhajji to the party! He got Dilshan (33) clean bowled with a flatter one that flattened the batsman’s chances of hitting a big one in the most important match of his career. Munaf got the next over and benefitted from the nervous feet on the turf and kept a tight line and length.
15th and 16th Over: Sri Lanka 60-1 (Dilshan 33, Sangakkara 19) Harbhajan bowled a very tight line and did not give anything away. He even forced the batsman like Dilshan to defend his four consecutive balls. His over cost just 2 runs. Munaf also bowled tightly, He also gave away a mere 2 runs. Bravo
50 CROSSED! 13th and 14th Over: Sri Lanka 56-1 (Dilshan 31, Sangakkara 17) The ‘unlucky’ thirteenth over brought two back to back boundaries off Sreesanth’s bowling. An official warning came soon after as the Kerala pacer was found walking on the pitch. Result – A no ball by him and Sehwag’s attempt to stop the umpire from giving a free hit. Munaf was slightly better in his approach in the next over.
11th and 12th Over: Sri Lanka 39-1 (Dilshan 26, Sangakkara 7) Sanga and Dilshan threw caution to the winds, building on a partnership as the runs were hard to come by. Patience, the captain murmured under his breath, after slamming a good boundary.
9th and 10th Over: Sri Lanka 31-1 (Dilshan 22, Sangakkara 3) Dilshan was desperate for a breath of few loose deliveries by Zack, only to be disheartened as the speedster was in no mood to repeat his drubbing of the 2003 WC final (wonder if he had it at the back of his mind). The tenth over saw a tight first powerplay coming to an end with the over witnessing superman Yuvraj trying to fly in the first delivery. Sree also came up with a good deep field effort to save a four. Brilliant effort from Dhoni’s boys, gotta keep it tight folks!
WICKET! 7th and 8th Over: Sri Lanka 24-1 (Dilshan 16, Sangakkara 2) Zaheer was finally rewarded for his grit with the wicket of Upul Tharanga (2) with a beauty that was collected with panache by Viru. The next over saw Munaf coming in the action and giving away just five runs as the first powerplay neared its end.
5th and 6th Over: Sri Lanka 17-0 (Dilshan 12, Tharanga 2) Zaheer was on cue in his fifth as well as he gave another maiden to set the tempo of the day. Sree on the other hand, was firing in all cylinders to get a scalp before his senior pro. He was taken beyond the boundary ropes on two occasions, a respite for the Lankans.
3rd and 4th Over: Sri Lanka 9-0 (Dilshan 4, Tharanga 2) Zaheer gave a beautiful maiden for the fans in the third over, beating the batsmen over and over again, looking for the elusive edge.
1st and 2nd Over: Sri Lanka 7-0 (Dilshan 3, Tharanga 1) Big man Zaheer started the proceedings with four dot balls, Dhoni failing to cup the fifth one that went for a bye. The last ball went for a leg bye, wrapping up the over at 2-0. Sreesanth bowled the second one, giving away five runs. Tharanga broke his bat at the second ball of the over and was given a new blade within seconds.
The Toss - Nerves were all around as even the match referee could not hear the call standing in the middle of a jam packed Wankhede fortress, er, stadium. The flipping of the coin for the second time also saw the Sri Lankan captain Sangakkara getting his call right and electing to bat first against India for the final glory.
‘The Preview’ – My heart’s beating faster than Yuvraj’s six going in the stands as today is the day when a new World Cup dominator will be crowned after three consecutive times it was the Australians who stamped ‘Mine Mate!’ on world cricket. India won the Cup in 1983 and Sri Lanka did it in 1996. Both the teams have living legendary among them in Sachin and Murali (his fitness being an issue though today, but in the words of yours truly, ‘Murali on one leg is more dangerous than a tearing fast rookie wicket taking machine’).
Mood of the day - M for Mirpur, India beat Bangladash. M for Motera, India beat Australia. M for Mohali, India beat Pakistan. M for Mumbai, will India beat Sri Lanka??, wrote a fan. Right said Fred!
India - Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni(w/c), Suresh Raina, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel, S Sreesanth
Sri Lanka Tillakaratne Dilshan, Upul Tharanga, Kumar Sangakkara(w/c), Mahela Jayawardene, Thilan Samaraweera, Chamara Kapugedera, Thissara Perera, Nuwan Kulasekara, Suraj Randiv, Lasith Malinga, Muttiah Muralitharan