India has now officially monopolized cricket for the next four years with a World Cup victory over Sri Lanka on Saturday that surely keeps them at the top of the world for a while now, until Australia regroups its forces and Sri Lanka finds some new faces to replace Muralidharan.
It was a tight match, kept tight by an average bowling display by India, a great innings by Jayawardhane, and a good cameo by Perera, followed by some flawless middle order batting by the Indians. The Sri Lanka squad was in the match until the last few overs. But some calm, pressure-free batting by India’s Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni pushed them past the finish line with ease. This after teammates Sehwag and Tendulkar fell early. Tendulkar in his (hopefully) last match failed to make any impact. The win of course was “for him”, and he was hoisted for a round of honour as the Wankhede Stadium cheered him on.
It was a good thing that India won, because Dhoni wouldn’t really have answers as to why he chose Sreesanth over any of the other bowlers, especially the unlucky Ashwin, who can do nothing wrong and still find himself on the other side of the fence. Sreesanth continued to be the most expensive bowler of the match, and was probably the difference between an easy victory and a tight match. Dhoni came in early, ahead of Yuvraj and to good effect. He played a leader’s knock and went on to win the Man of the Match award.
Yuvraj continued his good form with another good display of bowling, and then took India across the finish line, alongside Dhoni. He went on to win the Man of the Series award. it was a good reward to a great comeback.
But due credit goes to the Sri Lankans, who played well and did push India all the way to the end. Muralitharan, in his last match, failed to make any impact, but Malinga with some great strikes in the first few overs, kept the match interesting. Dilshan finished the tournament with the highest number of runs. Zaheer Khan finished the World Cup as the joint highest wicket-taker along with Afridi at 21.
It was a well-orchestrated end to an entertaining tournament. The best team won, and won it well. The best batting order in the world trounced all the other teams in the world with its consistency and a rousing home support, and with a good mix of youngsters and senior players.
We move on to Australia and New Zealand for the next World Cup in four years.