x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 September 2017

Dhoni and Gambhir guide India to cricket World Cup win

India have won the cricket World Cup by beating Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final in Mumbai.

MS Dhoni guided India in the closing overs to end their 28-year wait for a second World Cup.
MS Dhoni guided India in the closing overs to end their 28-year wait for a second World Cup.

MUMBAI // India won their second World Cup title after beating Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final at Wankhede Stadium today.

Chasing down 275 set by Sri Lanka after Mahela Jayawardene hit an unbeaten 103, Gautam Gambhir (97) and MS Dhoni (91 not out), the captain, blasted half centuries to see the hosts home with 10 balls to spare.

It ends a 28-year wait for the nation, who last won the World Cup in 1983. They become the first Asian country to win the World Cup twice.

______________ MoreIt's one more chance to star againCricket plays its part in helping unite the subcontinentGanguly a star attraction for the throngsLankans face an uphill battle

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In their chase, India did not get off to the best of starts, losing the explosive opener Virender Sehwag for a duck from the second ball of Lasith Malinga's opening over.

It was also not Sachin Tendulkar's night. Tendulkar, chasing his own personal goal of a century of international centuries fell for 18 after edging to the wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off Malinga's bowling.

But Gambhir and Virat Kohli settled and produced a 83-run partnership before Kohli was caught and bowled by Tilakaratne Dilshan for 35.

Enter MS Dhoni, who with Gambhir, always kept the required run-rate ticking there or there abouts, before Gambhir missed his cue in the 42nd over and was bowled, middle stump, by Thisara Perera three runs short of his century with the score on 223 for four.

Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh (21 not out) negotiated the the remaining overs, needing 52, with the captain accelerating to 91 from 79 balls. Malinga continued to bowl tight, but Sri Lanka bled runs at the other end. Dhoni ended the contest in style. A huge six to win the Cup.

Earlier, Mahela Jayawardene produced his third World Cup hundred on the biggest stage of all as Sri Lanka recovered from a slow start to post 274 for six against India in today's final.

Jayawardene (103 not out) barely played a false shot in an 88-ball innings of the highest class which ensured a challenging total.

Sri Lanka began conservatively, after winning the toss on a good pitch, as Zaheer Khan kept the brakes on with a miserly new-ball spell of 5-3-6-1.

______________ MoreIt's one more chance to star againCricket plays its part in helping unite the subcontinentGanguly a star attraction for the throngsLankans face an uphill battle

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But the No 4 batsman Jayawardene responded with trademark supreme batsmanship, full of characteristic wristy timing and placement yet almost bereft of risk.

His was the key wicket almost from the moment he reached the crease, and certainly after India broke the first of his three half-century stands — with captain Kumar Sangakkara.

Yet Jayawardene established a run-a-ball tempo and retained it throughout, at all inevitable pressure points as wickets began to fall at the other end. Zaheer bowled with outstanding control in his opening spell, and was backed up by impressive fielding in the off-side ring.

It was enough to stifle Sri Lanka's previously prolific opening pair of Tillekeratne Dilshan and, in particular, Upul Tharanga.

After three maidens, the left-hander succumbed to the first delivery of Zaheer's fourth over when a touch of movement away off the pitch took an outside edge and was well caught by Virender Sehwag, away to his right at first slip.

Tharanga's two runs had eaten up 20 balls. But No 3 Sangakkara then pushed his first ball from Zaheer for a single to mid-on, as the left-armer conceded his first run from his 20th delivery.

Shantha Sreesanth, called in for his first match since the opening fixture of the tournament 42 days ago — when India took on co-hosts Bangladesh in Dhaka — also gave little away initially but began to look flaky in his second spell as Sangakkara beat the infield for successive boundaries.

India nonetheless stuck to seam through all but the last over of the mandatory and bowling power plays, Munaf Patel bowling in tandem with Sreesanth as Zaheer took a well-earned breather.

The introduction of Harbhajan Singh soon did for Dilshan, unluckily bowled off glove and pad as he tried to sweep.

But Jayawardene joined Sangakkara for a partnership of 62, which was beginning to threaten significantly when the captain went after a short ball from Yuvraj Singh only to edge it behind.

Thilan Samaraweera helped Jayawardene put on another 57.

Yet once again just when Sri Lanka were just starting to look well-placed Samaraweera was lbw sweeping at Yuvraj after a successful Umpire Decision Review System (UDRS) challenge from the Indians.

Chamara Kapugedera poked a very good slower ball from the returning Zaheer straight to cover to go for only a single.

Two wickets had gone for three runs — a test of resolve and skill even for Jayawardene.

But he found another willing and able partner in Nuwan Kulasekara, who helped to rotate the strike and keep wickets intact for the final power play push — in which Sri Lanka's best-of-the-tournament 63 runs were plundered, and Jayawardene completed a richly-deserved century with the last of his 13 fours over wide mid-off as even Zaheer started to suffer.