India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni led from the front and scripted a historic win for India over a spirited Sri Lanka in the World Cup final 2011 played out at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium on Saturday.
The Indian youngsters came good in a match that mattered with southpaw Gautam Gambhir hitting a gritty 97 that was the backbone of the Indian reply to Sri Lanka’s 274.
Dhoni who promoted himself up the order pulled off a magic innings, his best this World Cup, scoring 91 runs, to lead his team to victory after India won the Cup last 28 years ago.
All this despite favourite openers Virender Sehwag and maestro Sachin Tendulkar getting out cheaply by 31.
Dhoni has already led the team to a T20 world victory in 2007. This is his second crown.
The Dhoni-Gambhir partnership of 109 runs off 118 deliveries steadied the Indian innings after a wobbly start when the home team lost Sehwag and Tendulkar cheaply. Gambhir, however, missed his century and Kohli was bowled at 97 after he attempted an out-of-crease-drive to a straight delivery to Perera.
In the Sri Lanka innings, riding on a brilliant 103 from ace batsman Mahela Jayawardene, who came good at the right time, the guests put up an impressive total of 274 for 6 at the World Cup final against India on Saturday.
Though the Sri Lankan batsmen began edgy against a disciplined bowling and fielding display by India, Mahela Jayawardene’s knock and some fine batting by Nuwan Kulusekara during the batting powerplay wrested the initiative from India in the final hour.
Zaheer Khan’s last over gave away 18 runs.
Earlier, Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara won a good toss but the team kept losing wickets at crucial moments.
India for its part produced an impressive bowling and fielding display but could not hold on to that advantage in the last 10 overs when they got beat all over the field by Jayawardene.