Just as the 2007 World Cup final ended in farce, the 2011 World began with confusion as the toss had to be conducted twice following Kumar Sangakkara’s inaudible call. Thankfully, it proved irrelevant with India winning and the cricket on show being particularly memorable.
Neither semi-final saw an abundance of great quality so it was fitting that the final was a close game with both sides performing near to their best – certainly with the bat, in the cases of Mahela Jayawardene, Gautam Gambhir and Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Prior to the game, Jayawardene had scored 13 One-Day International centuries and never ended up on the losing side having reached three figures. It was a record that couldn’t last but he played superbly to help his side overcome the early losses of Tillakaratne Dilshan and Upul Tharanga.
Sangakkara played his part with a fluent 48 but having led his side brilliantly throughout the tournament, was unable to come up with all the answers against a powerful Indian batting line-up.
| Celebrations In Maharashtra
Gambhir, forced to improvise effectively, was outstanding in limiting the damage of losing Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag while Dhoni’s innings fully justified his decision to move himself up the order. It was a risk he took, and he admitted as much afterwards, to keep Yuvraj Singh back, but here was an example of a captain leading by example, as he has done on many occasions, both for his country and his IPL franchise.
He now has close to a full set – number one Test ranking, ODI World Cup, ICC World Twenty20, Champions League T20 and Indian Premier League titles. All that is missing is a Champions Trophy but right now, that will be far from India’s thoughts.
Prior to the game, much attention – as ever – surrounded Sachin Tendulkar and he spoke afterwards at his joy at achieving a boyhood dream. The wait for his 100th international century goes on but there is little doubt he will get there, unless he decides now is the time to go out on the highest of highs.
He still has the fitness, skill and reactions to play for at least a couple more years, and probably beyond that in the IPL. He has achieved so much in the game and been such an outstanding role model and ambassador for the sport that he deserves to go out on his own terms when he so chooses.
He has shown impeccable timing on the field for more than 20 years; his timing is hardly likely to fail him when he does decide to call it a day.
Bookmakers responded to India’s victory by installing them as second favourites for the 2015 World Cup, to be held in Australia and New Zealand. Unsurprisingly, Australia are the early favourites but the nucleus of this Indian team will still be around then.
Although Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and perhaps Harbhajan Singh will probably have drawn down the curtains on their careers by then, the likes of Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Ravi Ashwin will almost certainly still be involved and having players in your side who have won tournaments is a huge boost.
That all lies well ahead of us – for now, we must congratulate India for a job well done in becoming the first side to lift the World Cup on home soil. They dealt with the fans expectations outstandingly well and are to be praised for the cricket they played and the way they conducted themselves throughout the tournament.
© Cricket World 2011