An all-round Indian bowling performance, helped by some athletic ground fielding, propelled India into its third World Cup final.
India maintained its unbeaten record against Pakistan in World Cup cricket, securing a 29-run win in Wednesday's marquee semifinal in Mohali to set up a title clash with Sri Lanka.
Sachin Tendulkar rode on his luck to make 85 and Suresh Raina contributed a vital cameo (36 not out) under pressure to help their side's score 260 for nine after winning the toss. Although it appeared an under-par total, the bowlers did their bit to give India its fifth World Cup win over its traditional rival. Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh, and Yuvraj Singh shared the wickets, claiming two apiece.
Saturday's match in Mumbai will be India's third appearance in the World Cup final.
Pakistan had seemed in control when it began its pursuit spiritedly. Openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez looked comfortable against the new ball as they put on 44. India needed lifting – Zaheer did the job, having Akmal caught off a slower ball.
Hafeez (43) and Asad Shafiq (30) batted well, but fell attempting over-ambitious strokes. When Yuvraj got Younis Khan to lift a drive to Suresh Raina, Pakistan had slipped to 106 for four. India tightened the screws causing the asking rate to climb.
Umar Akmal (29) aimed to relieve the pressure. But just when it seemed as if India would pay for failing to run him out, Harbhajan bowled the young, talented batsman. With Misbah-ul-Haq (56) struggling, M.S. Dhoni's side needed only to gain the wickets of Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi to put the result beyond doubt.
Misbah chanced his arm, but he had left his charge too late. Pakistan was bowled out for 231 in 49.5 overs.
India earlier got off to an electric start, thanks to Virender Sehwag (38), but faltered thereafter as Pakistan fought back. Had Afridi's men held their catches – Tendulkar was dropped four times – they would have inconvenienced India further.
Wahab Riaz (five for 46) kept Pakistan in the contest with a fine display of left-arm fast bowling. After getting rid of the dangerous Sehwag in his first over, Riaz later struck twice in two balls, removing Virat Kohli and Yuvraj, to reduce India to 141 for four.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal was excellent as well; he deserved better than figures of two for 44 from 10 overs. He nearly had Tendulkar out twice in successive balls for 23. The maestro was adjudged ‘lbw' on the first occasion, but a review saw the decision overturned. Pakistan appealed for a stumping off the next ball. The third umpire rightly decided a close call in the batsman's favour.
Tendulkar was then reprieved thrice off Afridi's leg-spin: on 27 when Misbah dropped a pull the batsman didn't keep to ground, on 45 when Younis Khan spilt a lofted drive, and on 70 when wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal failed to take a difficult chance. Tendulkar had another moment of fortune, on 81 when Umar Akmal shelled a catch off Hafeez's bowling, before his luck ran out.