Belfast Telegraph

Cricket World Cup: Legend Tendulkar relishing final say against Sri Lanka

By David Clough

India’s favourite cricketing son Sachin Tendulkar will play a World Cup final in his home town of Mumbai after helping his country beat Pakistan by 29 runs in Mohali.

Tendulkar was named man-of-the-match for his top score of 85 in India's 260 for nine, a total they duly defended in yesterday’s semi-final.

The master batsman can therefore look forward to taking on Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium as India set their sights on at last following up their maiden World Cup win 28 years ago.

“Going back to Mumbai for this event is a wonderful occasion,” said Tendulkar, still one short of becoming the first man to make 100 international hundreds.

He may yet be reserving that feat for the grandest stage, but is more concerned that India seal the title on Saturday.

“I just hope we can get the job done,” said the India legend.

“I thought the way we bowled was brilliant and the way we fielded was absolutely fabulous.

“When we started I was thinking 310-315, but the way the ball was stopping I thought 260-270 was a decent total.”

Tendulkar's captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was hoping for a few extra runs to defend, but is confident his team are approaching their best form when they need it most.

“We would have loved to score 20 or 30 runs more after that fantastic start,” he said.

“Before the start of the tournament we said it is very important to peak at the right time, so I think we're ready for the final.”

Harbhajan Singh was one of five frontline India bowlers to end up with two wickets, and was delighted at how well they held their nerve.

“It was like a final, because if India and Pakistan are playing the pressure is double,” said the off-spinner.

“We bowled really well and fielded really well and deserved to win.”

A capacity crowd revelled in the home victory, and Harbhajan added: “Thanks to everyone for supporting us and giving us the blessing to win this important game. I'm really excited to be going to Mumbai for the final.”

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi was notably gracious in defeat, after a high-profile contest in which partisan feelings inevitably ran high.

“I want to congratulate the Indian cricket team and all the Indian nation for this great victory and wish them well for the final,” he said.

“We have played really well in this whole tournament, and the boys did a great job.”

Afridi reserved praise for Wahab Riaz, whose maiden five-wicket haul gave Pakistan a chance of an upset.

“He really bowled well, but we missed some opportunities — and they played better than us.”

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