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The glorious images of this magical evening at Mumbai are destined to be replayed millions of times on TV and the Net, and no matter what happens in Dhoni’s remarkable career from here, his place in the Indian cricketing pantheon is assured.

Meanwhile, all of India exulted lustily on Saturday night, and the celebrations are going to continue for a long, long time. This, after all, is a party that was 28 years in the making.

After three successive damp squibs (in 1999, 2003 and 2007), Saturday finally produced a match worthy of a cup final. Team India created history by bucking it – not once but thrice over. No team had ever won a World Cup on home ground, no side had ever successfully chased a target in excess of 250 in a World Cup final, and no squad had ever won after a player in the opposite side had hit a century in a final.

But there’s something about this squad – where previous teams would have crumbled, they soak up pressure and kep on scrapping, which explains why India are now ranked No. 1 in both Tests and ODIs.

Set 274 to win after Mahela Jayawardene scored a sublime 103 off 88 balls, India stumbled as Sehwag was trapped LBW by Malinga off the very second ball of the innings.

Sachin Tendulkar looked in sublime touch, racing to 18, but he then edged Malinga and Sangakkara came up with a peach of a catch. Tendulkar walked off to a standing ovation. A few hours later, he would be carried around all teary-eyed, to a rapturous reception, but at that moment few would have bet on it.

Gambhir and Kohli set about rebuilding the innings, while ensuring the asking rate never got out of hand. But the match still hung in the balance when Kohli fell to a superb return catch by Dilshan, with the score 114/3. Another quick wicket could have sent the innings into a death spiral.

Enter Dhoni. The skipper had struggled through the tournament. But when the chips were down, he made a statement of intent that resounded around the world.

Why India won

Superb fielding: India completely outfielded Lanka, with the fielders saving at least 30 runs. Yuvraj, Kohli and Raina outstanding

Restricted Lanka to 274: Sreesanth leaked runs and 63 runs were scored in the last 5 overs, but otherwise India bowled well. Zaheer’s opening spell of 5-3-6-1 was superb

Smart chase: The batsmen never let the asking rate climb too much. Dhoni’s promoting himself ahead of Yuvraj proved a masterstroke

Why Sri Lanka lost

Flawed selection: The Lankans blundered, picking Kulasekara and Randiv ahead of Mendis

Sanga’s error: Should have attacked with Malinga when Dhoni came to the crease, not waiting till he was well set


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