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Dhoni nerves of steel saw him tame pressure

india Updated: Apr 03, 2011 03:25 IST
Ian Chappell

In a tense battle of batsmen, it looked as if it would be the first final with a century in each innings, until Gautam Gambhir tossed away his shot at glory. Despite the mishap, a weary captain cool, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, guided India to a glorious World Cup triumph.

It takes a special player to score a hundred in a World Cup final — the list of batsmen says it all — and Mahela Jayawardene has catapulted himself into that category.

Always a classy guy, Jayawardene played an innings of great discipline and exquisite shot making. It was reminiscent of the innings that Aravinda de Silva played in helping Sri Lanka win the 1996 final. Growing up, Jayawardene admired de Silva and spoke highly of his memorable innings, and it was almost as though he had set himself to repeat his hero's feat.

There were other Sri Lankan batsmen, including Tillakaratne Dilshan and Kumar Sangakkara, who threatened to take charge of the innings, but they ended up playing a bit part to Jayawardene's starring role.

The elegant right-hander's calm temperament and superb timing allow him to score quickly without looking like he's involved in anything other than a net session.

He plays fast bowling and spin with ease and by staying till the end he was able to coax the lower order to add some more runs.

The 63 runs that were added in the batting powerplay, consummated by Thisara Perera's last-ball six, made sure the contest would come down to a battle between Sri Lanka's strong bowling attack and the dangerous Indian batting line-up.

With India losing the priceless wicket of Virender Sehwag in the inaugural over, which was followed by Sachin Tendulkar's dismissal in the seventh over, the chase became a Mount Everest expedition.

Malinga, the slinger, produced two different but equally devastating deliveries --- a ball coming back into Sehwag and one leaving Tendulkar --- to rid Sri Lanka of the twin dangers.

However, there's no holding Dhoni back when the situation demands nerves of steel. He's the most determined batsman and saved his best innings of the tournament for the biggest game.

He quelled every Sri Lankan challenge and not even a bad back could stop his charge. Along with the intense but imaginative Gambhir, he produced a partnership that broke Sri Lanka's back.

Dhoni had spoken about peaking at the right time at the start of the tournament and he was as good as his word on the last day of the mega event. It took a great chase to neutralise Jayawardene's century and India were worthy champions in a final that did credit to a well-organised tournament.