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INDIA ARE WORLD CHAMPIONS



Team India have won the ICC Cricket World Cup after 28 years, completing the highest ever run chase in a final.

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir pulled off an impressive run chase to beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in the ICC Cricket World Cup final in Mumbai.

The fourth-wicket pair ensured India did not panic in front of a capacity home crowd after the early loss of big guns Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar in pursuit of 274 for six.

The favourites prevailed with 10 balls to spare in today's showpiece between sub-Continental neighbours, both seeking their second World Cup, despite a wonderful 103 not out from Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene.
The expectations of many were that this contest might be a tale of two champion players, at watershed moments in their record-breaking careers.

But there was no major impact for Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan on his last appearance for his country, or a 100th international hundred for India's Tendulkar in his home town.

Instead, with 97 for Gambhir and Jayawardene's third World Cup century, three other world-class performers took centre stage in a contest just shaded by India.

It was Dhoni (91no) who completed the job, after promoting himself to number five and producing his first half-century of the campaign in a telling stand of 106 with Gambhir and then an unbroken 54 with Yuvraj Singh.

He did it with crowd-delighting gusto too, smashing a six high over long-on off Nuwan Kulasekera for the winning runs.

After Lasith Malinga uprooted both India openers - Tendulkar's departure silenced the partisan majority - India's prospects of a successful chase appeared to be fading already under the Wankhede Stadium lights.
But first Gambhir, with nine fours from 122 balls, and then Dhoni's eight fours and two sixes from only 79 changed everything.

Sehwag was gone lbw for nought to only the second ball when he aimed across the line and missed.
There was to be no finest hour for Tendulkar either, and it seemed a crushing setback to Indian morale when he edged behind.

Gambhir and Virat Kohli responded with a partnership of 83, broken only by an outstanding return catch from Tillakaratne Dilshan, diving to his right to pluck out the one-handed chance.

Gambhir had two moments of fortune, Kulasekera unable to hold a tumbling catch at long-off in the first over of spin from Suraj Randiv with the left-hander on 30 - and then, 18 runs later, a scampered second run just made as Kumar Sangakkara marginally fumbled a throw from the deep.

Sangakkara could not quite gather either when there was barely a half-chance to stump Dhoni for a second-ball duck off Dilshan, and the India captain was to have another close call on 69 when Chamara Kapugedera threw down the stumps.

But his and Gambhir's efforts, with Yuvraj's late assistance after the number three had been bowled trying to carve off-side runs off Thisara Perera, met the challenge.

That might not have been so had Sri Lanka's batsmen begun the match a little less conservatively, after Sangakkara won the toss on a good pitch and Zaheer Khan kept the brakes on with a miserly new-ball spell of 5-3-6-1.
Jayawardene's 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 Sangakkara.

Sri Lanka's lynchpin established a near risk-free run-a-ball tempo and retained it throughout.

Zaheer's outstanding control in his opening spell, backed up by impressive fielding in the off-side ring, had put the early squeeze on Sri Lanka's previously prolific opening pair Dilshan and Upul Tharanga.

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 very well-caught by Sehwag, away to his right at first slip.

Tharanga's two runs had eaten up 20 balls, and it was not until his 20th delivery that Zaheer conceded his first run.
The introduction of Harbhajan Singh soon did for Dilshan, unluckily bowled off glove and pad as he tried to sweep.
Jayawardene joined Sangakkara for a partnership of 62, ended when the captain went after a short ball from Yuvraj 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.
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 Kulasekara, who helped to rotate the strike and keep wickets intact for the final powerplay push - in which Sri Lanka's best-of-the-tournament 63 runs were plundered.
Jayawardene completed a richly-deserved century with the last of his 13 fours over wide mid-off as even Zaheer started to suffer.

He perhaps deserved too to finish the day a winner. But India were narrowly the superior side, and eventually proved the point.

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