India wins ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 : Say hello to the new World Champions

As some of us may still be in disbelief, and rightly so, the Indian Cricket Team have won the prestigious ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, a trophy that they earned for the first time in 28 years.

Much to the delight and emotions that erupted in the hearts of a billion Indians, captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni smashed the winning runs to the stands for a six off Lankan seamer Nuwan Kulasekara.

In a hard fought final at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai, Sri Lanka won the toss and elected to bat first. In a relatively small ground the pitch offered quite nothing to the bowlers and the success of the fielding side depended upon consistent line and length.

The Indian bowlers did exactly that. Zaheer Khan bowled a masterful first spell of 5 overs, 6 runs and a wicket and Sri Lanka were struggling to accelerate the run rate, however they kept their nerves and cautiously batted through without fall of wickets.

As both openers were dismissed it was time for the rock solid experienced middle order of the Sri Lankan team – Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardane to deliver. Captain Sangakkara played a crucial knock until he was dismissed on 48, equally supported by Jayawardane who scored a run a ball knock, converted into a brilliant century of 84 balls towards the end of the innings.

No one apart from Jayawardane after the captain’s dismissal kept Sri Lanka going, and it seemed that the team needed some quick runs at the end of the 44th over when the total was just 211. However things took a turn around when Jayawardane and the tail made maximum use of the powerplay, scoring 60 odd runs in the final 5 overs, taking the team’s total to 274-6 at the end.

The total seemed highly challenging to chase in a world cup final against a team having 5 bowlers, a couple of whom are world class. The same reflected when Virender Sehwag was dismissed, trapped plumb in front to Lasith Malinga on the second ball of the Indian innings.

Master blaster Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing the final on his home ground looked in supreme touch, playing powerful backfoot drives that bisected the off side field on a number of occasions, and one of his vintage straight drives for a boundary. He was eventually dismissed to a near-to-perfect line and length out swinger from Malinga the stadium stood in stunned silence with the score at 31-2. Gautam Gambhir then took up the responsibility, as he’d done a number of times for the country of batting through sensibly. He scored 97 runs which included a number of sensible singles and twos and boundaries whenever needed.

After the dismissal of Virat Kohli it was time for the Indian captain to step up and rise to the occasion. Coming up the order ahead of Yuvraj Singh, him along with Gambhir put up a century partnership which took the total to 223, until Gambhir was dismissed after a tired and composed knock. Yuvraj and Dhoni then did the rest with Dhoni smashing bad balls to the boundary towards the end. As calm and composed as he was when he lead India to the World Cup T20 win in 2007, history repeated as he smashed the winning runs, scoring 91 runs off just 79 balls. It was a brilliantly paced innings with not much of risky shots and making sure that a run rate of over 5 per over was maintained throughout.

India were electric in the field, accurate in their bowling and as always showed class of the world’s number one batting line up. In the end the total was probably good for a final but just not good enough for the mighty Indian batsmen. And as admitted by the Sri Lankan captain at the presentation, India were the better side in the final and were truly deserved winners.

A final few words can be spared a few people – one of them being Indian coach Gary Kirsten who officiated in his last match for the team. He will be flying back to South Africa as a successful tutor respected by each and every player and countrymen. His immense contribution will be missed.

Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, India’s leading run scorer in this world cup who probably waited two decades for this special moment had finally earned it. When asked about carrying Sachin around the ground after the wim, batsman Virat Kohli replied, “he has carried the nation’s burden for the past 20 years, it’s about time we carried him.” These beautifully said words couldn’t have described the master’s contribution to India and to the game of cricket in a better way.

Yuvraj Singh bagged the man of the tournament award with his 350 odd runs off the bat and 15 wickets with the ball. Someone whose future in international cricket appeared bleak a year ago, almost single handedly took India through each and every difficult situation throughout the tournament.

Three cheers also goes out to Zaheer Khan, the leading wicket taker of the tournament with 21 wickets who swung the ball in all directions and delivered priceless wickets when it mattered the most.

It was a Saturday when India lifted the world cup in 1983, and history repeated on the very same day 28 years later. India are now on top of the world Test rankings as well as the ODI rankings – showing off in grand fashion a taste of the new emperors of the cricketing world.