On an immortal day at a sweltering Wankhede Stadium that was a sea of emotions, India kept its date with history.
Displaying belief and character, Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men overcame Sri Lanka by six wickets in a gripping final of ICC World Cup here on Saturday.
Gautam Gambhir (97) and skipper Dhoni (91 not out) orchestrated a remarkable Indian comeback after Lasith Malinga had fired out the openers.
Chasing a demanding 274, India achieved the highest successful pursuit in a World Cup summit clash. The Indians converged in a heap, not wanting the moment to fly away.
Dhoni's side emulated the feat of Kapil Dev's team that triumphed in the World Cup of 1983 in the Old Blighty.
At the end of a nerve-wracking day, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar was chaired by his jubilant team-mates around the arena. His World Cup dream had finally been fulfilled.
Dhoni was named the Man of the Match and Yuvraj Singh was adjudged Player of the tournament.
For Sri Lanka, Mahela Jayawardene's outstanding unbeaten innings of 103 had gone in vain.
Skipper Dhoni promoted himself in the order and the Indian ploy of having a right-left combination in the middle worked. The Sri Lankan spin attack of three off-spinners, lacking variety, struggled.
Dhoni displayed a calm head and decisive stroke-play. He punched Muralithran through covers, and then off-drove the champion off-spinner. There was a shift in the momentum.
The Sri Lankan bowling lost focus and thrust and the fielding wilted. Sangakkara threw up his hands in despair when his side conceded overthrows.
Gambhir held centre-stage. He was light on his feet and heavy with his strokes.
The man with a wonderful sense of timing also timed his performance to suit a massive occasion. And he picked the gaps with a surgeon's precision.
The 109-run fourth wicket association took the game away from the Sri Lankans.
A tired Gambhir departed when three short of a century, charging seamer Perera and missing a heave. Soon, Dhoni wrested the initiative again for India by slashing Perera for a six and blasting Kulasekara past cover.
With Yuvraj Singh walking in, India had another right-left pair. The Indians needed a sound foundation but the start was disastrous.
Lasith Malinga landing the ball on the side, rather than the seam, and getting the sphere to skid through, was on target.
Virender Sehwag was caught at the crease. Then, Sachin Tendulkar was caught behind attempting to steer a short-of-a-good length delivery that moved away.
The Indian supporters in the stands were shell shocked. India was under intense pressure but the Sri Lankans failed to seize their chances.
Gambhir (on 30) chipped off-spinner Suraj Randiv but was put down at long-off by Nuwan Kulasekara.
Then 'keeper Sangakkara, with Gambhir (on 47) struggling to get home, failed to gather a throw from deep point by Muttiah Muralitharan.
It suited India to have Gambhir at the crease when the spinners operated. It is not easy for a bowler to settle down on a length while operating at this southpaw.
If the delivery is even a tad short, the left-hander further shortens the length by using the depth of the crease and conjuring rousing strokes behind point.
And he has this ability to convert the length by gliding down the track and getting to the pitch of the ball.
With a smart cricketing mind, he reads the situations and the conditions in the manner of a champion. There was turn for both Randiv and Muralitharan but Gambhir countered the duo capably. The surface did not slow down.
Gambhir also displayed the heart for the battle. When the fiery Malinga fired in those yorkers, he dug them out.
Virat Kohli too displayed resolve during a fighting 35 in a crunch situation but was caught and bowled brilliantly by Dilshan.
Earlier, Jayawardene sizzled. A natural riding on his skill, Jayawardene oozes class.
He gradually sliced open a well-settled Indian attack by picking the length early and playing the ball late. His hands are soft but his strokes aren't.
Harbhajan was square-driven with finesse to the fence. Sreesanth was glided and Zaheer gloriously cover-driven. Jayawardene had taken flight on a big occasion.
He was not averse to taking calculated risks either. Even on those occasions when he was not provided the width, Jayawardene created room to slash the ball between point and third-man.
Jayawardene also rotated the strike with deft placements. Along the way, he built partnerships, held the innings together.
Sri Lanka was in trouble at 182 for five when Chamara Kapugedera was deceived by a slower one from Zaheer. However, Nuwan Kulasekara provided Jayawardene worthy support and Sri Lanka roared back.
The side changed gears in the climactic phase of the innings.
The five overs of batting Power Play — from the 46th over — fetched Sri Lanka a whopping 63 runs.
Jayawardene sizzled, Kulasekara landed a few telling blows and Thisara Perera exploded with a nine-ball unbeaten 22.
Zaheer who began the day with three immaculate maidens from an ideal wrist and seam position, was taken for 44 runs in his final three overs; the left-arm paceman's length suffered.
Perera whipped the final ball of the innings over square-leg for the maximum and the visitor finished its innings on a high.
The Indian fielding, that had been brilliant in the first half with Suresh Raina and Yuvraj Singh defying gravity in the circle, lost its grip.
Skipper Sangakkara played his part too with a strokeful 48 of footwork and timing before Yuvraj nailed the southpaw on the cut.
And Dilshan's diligent innings of 33 — the opener went past the 500-run mark for the edition — concluded when he played on attempting to sweep Harbhajan.
Munaf Patel, landing on a back-of-a-length and seaming the ball, was restrictive in his first spell while Harbhajan Singh operated with a fair measure of control and explored the angles from round-the-wicket.
Yuvraj was steady but Sreesanth lacked consistency
Zaheer prised out the in-form Upul Tharanga with a terrific delivery on the off-stump that seamed a tad away — Sehwag dived to his right at slip to hold a fine catch — but ran into rough weather towards the conclusion of the innings.
However, all's well that's ends well, as Dhoni finished off the match in style with a six.
Sri Lanka: U. Tharanga c Sehwag b Zaheer 2 (20b), T. Dilshan b Harbhajan 33 (49b, 3x4), K. Sangakkara c Dhoni b Yuvraj 48 (67b, 5x4), M. Jayawardene (not out) 103 (88b, 13x4), T. Samaraweera lbw b Yuvraj 21 (34b, 2x4), C. Kapugedera c Raina b Zaheer 1 (5b), N. Kulasekara (run out) 32 (30b, 1x4, 1x6), T. Perera (not out) 22 (9b, 3x4, 1x6); Extras (b-1, lb-3, w-6, nb-2): 12; Total (for six wkts. in 50 overs): 274.
Fall of wickets: 1-17 (Tharanga), 2-60 (Dilshan), 3-122 (Sangakkara), 4-179 (Samaraweera), 5-182 (Kapugedera), 6-248 (Kulasekara).
India bowling: Zaheer 10-3-60-2, Sreesanth 8-0-52-0, Munaf 9-0-41-0, Harbhajan 10-0-50-1, Yuvraj 10-0-49-2, Tendulkar 2-0-12-0, Kohli 1-0-6-0.
India: V. Sehwag lbw b Malinga 0 (2b), S. Tendulkar c Sangakkara b Malinga 18 (14b, 2x4), G. Gambhir b Perera 97 (122b, 9x4), V. Kohli c & b Dilshan 35 (49b, 4x4), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 91 (79b, 8x4, 2x6), Yuvraj (not out) 21 (24b, 2x4); Extras (b-1, lb-6, w-8): 15; Total (for four wkts. in 48.2 overs): 277.
Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Sehwag), 2-31 (Tendulkar), 3-114 (Kohli), 4-223 (Gambhir).
Sri Lanka bowling: Malinga 9-0-42-2, Kulasekara 8.2-0-64-0, Perera 9-0-55-1, Randiv 9-0-43-0, Dilshan 5-0-27-1, Muralitharan 8-0-39-0.
Keywords: Cricket World Cup 2011