India endured the endless pressure laid upon them for being the co-host to the Cricket World Cup to beat Sri Lanka by 6 wickets on Saturday in the final.
Sri Lanka smashed 91 from their last 10 overs to post 274-6 in Mumbai, with Mahela Jayawardene making a superb 103.
India lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early on but Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Dhoni rebuilt the innings.
Gambhir was out for 97, but captain Dhoni’s superb unbeaten 91 saw India to a famous win with 10 balls to spare.
The captain, struggling for form throughout the tournament, played the innings of his life and sealed the victory with a phenomenal straight six that sailed high into the stands, providing the catalyst for euphoric celebrations in the Wankhede Stadium.
Tendulkar’s early dismissal for 18 ensured there was to be no fairytale 100th international century for Mumbai’s favourite son.
India’s dream of a Cricket World Cup triumph at home is one step closer after their bowlers suffocated Pakistan’s batsmen to set up a 29-run victory in the semi-final in Mohali. Saturday’s decider will now be a battle of the hosts, and while Sri Lanka might have been surprised by the strength of India’s bowling effort, they would also have taken note of a slightly lacklustre batting performance.
In the end, India’s 260 for 9 was enough as their bowlers did a fine job, but had Pakistan helped themselves, the target could have been so much more gettable. Sachin Tendulkar was dropped four times in his 85, MS Dhoni was put down once and while Wahab Riaz was extremely impressive in collecting five wickets, Umar Gul had one of his most forgettable days, wilting under the pressure of a World Cup semi-final.
By contrast, India’s display in the field was much more professional, and that was the difference in a match that lived up to the extreme pre-match hype. The decision to leave R Ashwin out to make room for Ashish Nehra was an odd choice on a pitch offering plenty of spin, but Nehra and his bowling colleagues built the pressure and gave Pakistan’s batsmen little to attack after they made a promising start and reached 70 for 1.
Sri Lanka beat New Zealand by 5 wickets in the Cricket World Cup semi-final after surviving a little late scare.
The co-hosts were coasting to victory while Tillakaratne Dilshan (73) was continuing his prolific form in a 120-run partnership with Kumar Sangakkara (54).
But the second-wicket pair were both among the batsmen to go as Sri Lanka stumbled and stalled from 160 for one in the 33rd over to 185 for five in the 43rd.
Some strong nerves were therefore required from the late middle order to haul them through – with a flattering 13 balls to spare – to an all-subcontinental showpiece decider in Mumbai on Saturday, against either Pakistan or India.
It will be a third, and second successive, final for today’s winners – while New Zealand have now appeared in six semis yet have still not managed to take the next step.
Sri Lanka restricted their opponents to a below-par total, despite Scott Styris’ first half-century of the campaign.
It was the fifth defeat in as many World Cup knockout matches for the South Africans since their first appearance at the 1992 tournament.
South Africa were cruising to victory at 108 for two in pursuit of a modest target of 222 with their premier batsman Jacques Kallis well set on 47.
But Kallis was magnificently caught on the boundary by Jacob Oram off Tim Southee, JP Duminy was bowled for three and AB de Villiers run out two balls later for 35.
New Zealand, who had fielded tenaciously and bowled with spirit, piled on the pressure with medium-pacer Oram bowling snapping up two more quick wickets.
Yuvraj Singh steered India into the semi-finals of the Cricket World Cup by beating Australia and thereby ending the defending champions’ 34-match unbeaten run.
Ricky Ponting’s 104, his first century for 13 months, guided a misfiring Australian batting line-up to 260-6.
It was a target that looked within India’s compass, and Sachin Tendulkar’s 53 set the hosts off in fine style.
Gautam Gambhir added 50 before Yuvraj (57 not out) saw India to a five-wicket win with 14 balls to spare.
The result ended an extraordinary run of success for the Aussies in the World Cup. Beaten finalists in 1996 when Ponting was a junior player, they won the next three tournaments, an imposing run that included a run of 34 matches without defeat.
Having won the toss and opted to bat first the West Indies were dismissed for a mere 112 – their third lowest score in the history of the tournament.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul was left high and dry by his team-mates on 44 not out. Ramnaresh Sarwan (24) was the only other batsman to make it into double figures in a sorry-looking scorecard.
Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi led the way with 4-30 before watching on as openersMohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal (47 not out) knocked off the paltry 113 required in less than 21 overs.
Hafeez finished up on 61 not out to complete a fine all-round display – he had earlier claimed 2-16 with his off-spin after being asked to open the bowling.
Shoaib Akhtar will retire from all international cricket when Pakistan exit the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup.
He told his Pakistan team-mates of the decision at the Premadasa Stadium on Thursday morning, during an emotional gathering in which he delivered a farewell speech and was embraced by fellow players and support staff.
Privately, over the last few months, Shoaib had been looking at the World Cup as a final hurrah for a body increasingly unable to cope with the rigours of the international game. The tournament itself has been a mixed one for him: he was outstanding through ten overs in Pakistan’s win over Sri Lanka. But after an impressive opening spell against New Zealand he was taken for 28 runs in his final over, bowling a succession of waist high full tosses at Ross Taylor as New Zealand changed the game.
He was dropped for the subsequent Zimbabwe game – having earlier been rested in the game against Canada – and it was as much for his performance as continuing concerns over his ability to be at optimum operation in his second and third spells.