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A billion dreams come true

india Updated: Apr 03, 2011 12:22 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

Men who make history defy all odds. For India, it was a question of doing two things which had never happened before. No team had won the World Cup on home soil and no team had won a World Cup final chasing such a big target.

Both achievements were consigned to history with Saturday's six-wicket win as 274 was surpassed with lots to spare. A cauldron of noise all day, the Wankhede Stadium broke all decibel levels after the match and it was a resounding announcement of India's official coronation as the world's best team. See WC photo gallery

Gautam Gambhir made 97 and skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed an unbeaten 91 off 79 balls as India won the World Cup for the first time since 1983 with a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka on Saturday. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/03_04_pg20b.jpg

Sri Lanka, who won the toss and elected to bat, rode on Mahela Jayawardene's 103 not out off 88 balls to pile up 274-6 in their 50 overs.

India had slumped to 31-2 by the sixth over when fast bowler Lasith Malinga dismissed Virender Sehwag (0) second ball and had Sachin Tendulkar (18) caught behind in his fourth over.

Gambhir, who was dropped on 30 and escaped a run-out chance on 49, turned the match around by adding 83 for the third wicket with Virat Kohli and 109 for the fourth with Dhoni. Yuvraj Singh, who was named the man of the tournament, partnered his skipper till the end with 21 not out after Gambhir was bowled by Thisara Perera in the 42nd over when 52 more were still needed.

It was only the third time in 10 World Cup finals that a side batting second had chased down the victory target.

The finale gave Tendulkar, the world's most successful Test and one-day batsman, his first World Cup title in six appearances since 1992. The defeat ended Lanka bowler Muttiah Murali-tharan’s dream of being part of a second World Cup-winning team, having won the title under Arjuna Ranatunga in 1996.

Jayawardene shored up Lanka's innings before tailenders Nuwan Kulasekara (32) and Thisara Perera (22) helped their team smash 63 runs in the last five overs of power-play.

Zaheer Khan dried up the flow of runs at the start and his two wickets made him the tournament’s leading bowler with Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi with 21 wickets each. Zaheer opened with three successive maidens and then struck with the first ball of his fourth over when Sehwag dived to his right in the slips to remove Upul Tharanga for two.

Fast bowler S Sreesanth lifted the pressure by conceding 15 runs in his fifth over. Sreesanth, preferred ahead of spinner R Ashwin after Ashish Nehra was ruled out with a fractured finger, was thrashed for 52 runs in his eight overs.

Two nations, one Cup: Pics | India's path to World Cup 2011 | Scorecard