Twenty-eight years after Indian cricket changed forever on an English summer's day, the country's dream of enhancing its reputation as a major force in the world game found glorious realisation at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Mahela Jayawardene lit up the World Cup final with a century (103 not out) of rare radiance, enabling Sri Lanka to score 274 for six in 50 overs. But Gautam Gambhir responded with an innings of 97 that was just as masterful. Captain M.S. Dhoni (91 not out) summoned his best under pressure and hit the winning runs — a six — to gift India and the great Sachin Tendulkar the World Cup.
India's mood had been grim when Lasith Malinga impaired it early. The Sri Lankan fast-bowler trapped Virender Sehwag ‘lbw' for a duck in the first over before having Sachin Tendulkar caught behind in the seventh. Tendulkar had looked in fine touch during his brief stay — the maestro's dismissal stunned the home crowd into silence while Sri Lanka's cricketers celebrated the big wicket that had left India at 31 for two.
Gambhir saw out the remainder of Malinga's first spell and took calculated risks against the other seamers to ensure that India kept pace with the asking rate. It was brave, intelligent batting under duress. Virat Kohli (35) applied himself to the task of rebuilding the innings, helping raise 83 for the third wicket before he fell to a brilliant one-handed return catch by Tillakaratne Dilshan.