Cricket World Cup Final: India vs. Sri Lanka Time Diary

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Cricket World Cup Final: India vs. Sri Lanka Time Diary
Hamish Blair/Getty Images
The practice toss.

Toss

Jeff Crowe - what are you doing? Your job is simple. Listen to the call, look at the coin and see who won the toss. Is it that hard? Fine, the crowd is noisy. But if you didn't hear the call then step-in asap. Either position yourself between the coin and the captains and clarify the call before either has seen the coin. Or if coin is about to hit the ground and you haven't heard the call yet, immediately should out "dead toss." Pick-up the coin and have the captains do it again.

First the 2007 debacle which you also oversaw. Now this. Incompetence.

I can just imagine the Indian media going berserk over this if India ends-up losing. Crowe will be villain-ised. Sangakkara's integrity will be questioned. Lip readers will be brought in. Conspiracy theorists will abound. Match fixing anyone? Was the ISI involved?

Gosh the atmosphere is electric. Maybe I should have spent the $1,700 dollars for a ticket to be at the game. Ha - maybe I should have been a banker or consultant for another couple of years. It was a pretty bad seat too... But just the thrill of being there... I'm going to grow old regretting this aren't I?

7 overs, 19/1

Zaheer Khan makes-up for 2003, and then some: 3-3-0-0 (three overs, three maidens). And if that's not enough, a wicket of his 19th ball to put poor Upul Tharanga out of his misery. Good start for India. Sreesanth extremely nervous, but keeping his emotions in check.

25 overs, 105/2

Dilshan's wicket a huge bonus for India. A poor ball, well down leg-side, somehow lodges in Dilshan's gloves and ricochets back on to the stumps.

But Jayawardene looks disarmingly fluent from ball one. He and Sangakkara are already off and running. If India can break this partnership soon they will be well on top. But, if these two bat for another 10 overs or so they could take the game away.

40 overs, 183/5

Two quick wickets and India well on top. They should really tighten the screws now and could restrict Sri Lanka to under 230, maybe even bowl them out. Strangely Kulasekara comes in ahead of Perera; perhaps the latter is being saved for the powerplay.

50 overs, 274/6

Wow - what a stunning counter-attack by Sri Lanka! 63 runs from the batting powerplay, with both Perera and Kulasekara playing fabulous cameos. But all praise must centre on Mahela Jayawardene who didn't play a single shot in anger as he cruised his way to a beautiful, chanceless 103* from 88 balls. And in the process he showed the world's big hitters how it needs to be done in the powerplay. Granted the bowling wasn't great, but his footwork and shot selection were top shelf.

Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Mahela celebrates his century.

After conceding six runs in his first five overs, Zaheer conceded 54 in his last five. Cricket can be a cruel game.

Huge challenge up against India. Somehow it's much easier to chase 275 when the opposition scores 30 in the last five than when it scores 63. A massive momentum shift Sri Lanka's way. A positive way of looking at it from India's perspective: if they do chase this down then it will go down as one of the greatest chases in ODI history - 275 in a World Cup final, with all that pressure and against this bowling line-up will be a minor epic.

0.2 overs, 0/1

All talk during the dinner break focused on the importance of a Sehwag cameo up front. A quick 50 of 40 balls would be so nice we said. Even a run-a-ball 30 would be good. Instead, Malinga sends him packing second ball.

Before going, however, Sehwag displays some utterly selfish behaviour. Even before the umpire has fully raised his finger, Sehwag asks for the review. The only time a batsman should ask for a review of an LBW decision with such immediacy is if he knows he's hit it. There is no justification, otherwise, for not taking your full 15 seconds, for not consulting with your partner. Sehwag did the same thing against Pakistan and he's blundered again here. This could not have been plumber. What was he thinking with that review? Utterly selfish. If this lost review costs India the game Sehwag should feel ashamed.

A dream start for Sri Lanka.

6.1 overs, 31/2

A nation falls silent. If there was a way to measure the aggregate decibel level of an entire nation, I'd put money on the fact that this was the lowest it's been in India's 64-year history. There'd probably be more noise at 3.30am on a nondescript Wednesday morning.

Although his stay was brief, Tendulkar was batting like a dream. The stage had been set for a fairytale finish to his one-day career. Score a century, guide his team to victory, reach his 100th 100, maybe win man of the match and/or man of the series, and retire from ODIs. But real life rarely affords fairy-tale finishes.

Murali looks like he'll finish with two. Sachin with none. Doesn't seem fair. Oh well, good thing I didn't buy that ticket after all, saving myself a small fortune.

India's going to find it damn tough from here, but unlike with past Indian teams one can still entertain realistic hopes. It's time for Gambhir, Kohli and Dhoni to step-up with the bat. Sachin has done his job in the tournament. So has Yuvraj. And Raina played the most important innings in the quarter- and semi-finals. Gambhir and Kohli, however, have underperformed with the bat, and Dhoni has not performed at all.

The other half sends an SMS from Kenya: "I'm staying positive..."

18 overs, 96/2

Strange tactics from Sangakkara. For mine, this could end-up being the biggest strategic blunder of the match. For some reason, after Sachin's wicket, Sangakkara has allowed Kohli and Gambhir to play 12 overs without having to face a single ball from either Malinga or Murali. Sure I understand the benefit of saving some of their overs for the end, but surely Sri Lanka could have killed the game by having India 50/3.

With three batsman still to come, India almost has the game back at level-pegging now.

It's virtually impossible to hear any commentary. The DJ is blasting one patriotic song after another. The crowd at the pub is surely beyond legal capacity, with squeals and chants renting the air.

Another message from Kenya: "Having trouble watching."

22 overs, 115/3

Dhoni comes in ahead of Yuvraj: unexpected but brave. He needs a little time to get his eye in, but once he does he could very well take India home. And seeing as he's nearly dismissed off his second ball, this could be his night.

40 overs, 221/3

A half dozen Punjabi guys engaged in a non-stop gyrating, inebriated tangle of bhangra. Can only see patches of the screen in between their flailing limbs.

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The winning moment.

My friend asks me: "How many sixes will Dhoni finish with?" Everyone knows Dhoni's new style of batting. He hits along the ground, runs hard and accumulates, saving the glamour shots only for the end once victory is safe. Now, with 54 needed of 60, victory is almost in the bag. Time for Dhoni to unfurl?

"One," I say, "because his back seems to be in pain."

"Three," my friend predicts.

48.2 overs, 277/4

Well maybe fairy-tale endings do happen in real life. Dhoni launches a juicy half volley far into the Mumbai night sky, finishing the match and the tournament with a six. His second of the innings. It's hard to script it better. A captain's knock when it was needed most.

Last SMS from Kenya: "Whoohoo!"

Oh, to be there right now... 1,700 bucks? That's nothing!

Dhoni's now won the T20 World Cup at first attempt and the ODI World Cup at first attempt. He's taken India to #1 in the test rankings and also the ODI rankings. He's the current holder of both the IPL and the Champions Trophy. Building up quite the CV there MS.

Presentation ceremony

Sangakkara thoroughly magnanimous in defeat, as were Afridi and Ponting. No Indian player, including Dhoni, however, mentions Sri Lanka during his interviews. This is disappointing. Even after defeating Australia and Pakistan, Dhoni did not recognise the great game played by India's opponents.

After-thoughts

In its last four matches India defeated the West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka - the only winners of the World Cup apart from India. All three finals were high-voltage encounters, and in each of the three India was on the ropes at one point. But team India managed to maintain the intensity throughout despite being emotionally drained. This World Cup victory should be cherished not so much for the win itself but the for the way in which it was accomplished. Given the sheer size of its population and the love for the game within, can India begin a long era of domination? I can see it being possible in the shorter forms - ODIs and T20s - but I don't see test domination on the horizon as the old guard starts to retire. A lot depends on how smartly the BCCI uses all its money.

One can't help but feel for Sri Lanka. This is their second consecutive World Cup final defeat. In between they lost a T20 World Cup final also. Are they lacking a killer instinct. But their time will come, perhaps in 2015. With a population of around 20m they certainly punch well above their weight in international cricket. Australia also has 20m people but the institutional and public infrastructure for cricket there is many times better than that enjoyed by subcontinent countries. Sri Lanka, economically, is on par with India. Yet, it has a population that is 60 times less! Still, it manages to churn out young, talented cricketers like no tomorrow.

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