KARACHI: It took India as many as 28 years to end their World Cup title drought. The side they beat in the final of the 2011 tournament was co-hosts Sri Lanka in front of 42,000 spectators at the Wankhede Stadium and provided the legendary Sachin Tendulkar a befitting but emotional farewell in his hometown of Mumbai.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the star of his country’s second World Cup glory. The captain couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate moment to hit form after an indifferent competition by promoting himself to No.5 and blasted 91 from 79 deliveries and fittingly finished off Sri Lanka by casually hoisting Nuwan Kulasekara over long on for the second six of his innings that also included eight fours.
By reaching 277-4 in 48.2 overs, the Indians also pulled off the highest run-chase in a final. Gautam Gambhir was the other star performer with a 122-ball 97, while Tendulkar’s last World Cup innings yielded just 18. Mahela Jayawardene stood out for Sri Lanka with a wonderful unbeaten 103 from only 86 deliveries (13 boundaries) in a total of 274-6.
The delirious scenes from this final presented a huge contrast to the sordid events of the 1996 semi-final between these very teams. Back then the Eden Gardens in Kolkata looked more like a battlefield than a sporting arena as bottles were hurled onto the field from sections of the massive turnout while some portions of the stands were set on fire.
The reason for this rowdy behaviour was India losing seven wickets for 22 runs as they collapsed to 120-8 in 34.1 overs after Tendulkar’s 65 had guided them 98-1 in pursuit of a 252-run target on a spiteful pitch as the ball spun and bounced awkwardly. With no chance of normalcy returning, match referee Clive Lloyd was left with little choice but to award the game to Sri Lanka, who owed their strong score of 251-8 in 50 overs to Aravinda de Silva’s masterly 66 (14 fours) from 47 balls, the vice-captain having reached 50 from 32 balls.
Sri Lanka, who went on to clinch the title, had also been the dominant side in the earlier pool fixture at Delhi where Tendulkar stroked run-a-ball 137 as India collected 271-3. Sanath Jayasuriya (79 off 76 balls) and Hashan Tillakaratne (70 not out) guided their team home with six wickets to spare.
Back in 1979 Sri Lanka became the first Associate Member to inflict defeat upon a Test country when they stunned India by 47 runs at Old Trafford where rain forced play into the reserve day which was separated by Sunday’s rest day!
The two teams also figured in a two-ball match during the rain-marred 1992 World Cup at the Harrup Park in Mackay.
The most humiliating experience for India was during the 2007 World Cup where they failed to progress beyond the group stage after Bangladesh shocked them and then Sri Lanka sealed a 69-run success in Port of Spain.
In between India were comprehensive winners over the islanders. Sourav Ganguly (183 off 158 balls, 17 fours and seven sixes) and Rahul Dravid (145 off 129, 17 fours and one six) shared a World Cup record partnership of 318 to help their side amass 373-6 in a 157-run rout of Sri Lanka in the 1999 pool game at Taunton.
They repeated the dose with an even bigger win in 2003 when Tendulkar hit 97 as India posted 292-6 in the Super Six clash in Johannesburg. Sri Lanka succumbed to a 183-run thrashing as they mustered 109 all out in 23 overs.
June 16, 18, 1979 — Old Trafford, Sri Lanka won by 47 runs
Feb 28, 1992 — Mackay, match abandoned
March 2, 1996 — Delhi, Sri Lanka won by six wickets
March 13, 1996 — Kolkata, Sri Lanka won by default
May 26, 1999 — Taunton, India won by 157 runs
March 10, 2003 — Johannesburg, India won by 183 runs
March 23, 2007 — Port of Spain, Sri Lanka won by 69 runs
April 2, 2011 — Mumbai, India won by six wickets.
Published in Dawn, July 6th, 2019