Mohali: India vanquished Pakistan late on Wednesday to storm into the final of the cricket World Cup in a high-voltage match watched by the prime ministers of the two countries and millions of passionate fans across the sub-continent.
The 29-run victory, which enabled India to maintain its unbeaten record against the arch rivals in 36 years of World Cup history, was the result of some brilliant bowling and fielding show by the home side after its much-vaunted batting line-up had posted a modest 260 for nine to which man-of-the match Sachin Tendulkar made a lucky 85-run contribution.
India now meet Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai on Saturday in a bid to win the coveted Cup for the second time since it first stunned the cricketing world by beating West Indies in 1983 at the Lords.
Batting first after winning the toss, India was restricted to 260 for nine largely due to brilliant bowling by fast medium bowler Wahab Riaz who took 5 for 46.
Given an even chance to overhaul this total, Pakistani batting crumbled before some brilliant bowling by three Indian seamers -- Ashish Nehra (2/33), Zaheer Khan (2/58) and Munaf Patel (2/40) as well as two spinners Harbhajan Singh (2/43) and Yuvraj Singh (2/57).
Pakistan were all out for 231 runs in 49.5 overs to leave India deserved winners before a boisterous crowd that included power personalities such as Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, union ministers, glamour from Bollywood besides Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Yousuf Raza Gilani who were present when the final ball was bowled.
Zaheer Khan took the last wicket of Misbah-ul Haq to send a capacity crowd at the PCA stadium into a frenzy.
The jubilant Indian team members hugged each other and took the stumps as souvenirs and the support staff at the dressing room also broke into celebration to cherish the moment of triumph, which brought hopes of India regaining the coveted trophy after a gap of 28 years.
Tendulkar turned out to be India’s batting hero though he got as many as six ‘lives´ during his innings. However, he could not make the most of the Pakistani fielding lapses as he missed his 100th international ton.
Virender Sehwag (38) and Suresh Raina (36 not out) were the other notable scorers as many of the Indian batsmen got the starts but could not translate them into big knocks.
For Pakistan, pacer Wahab Riaz was the pick of the bowlers with a career best 5/46, eclipsing his previous best of 3/22 against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2008.
The Indians then came up with a disciplined bowling show and some brilliant fielding to choke the Pakistanis who got a good start but lost their way in the middle overs.
Misbah-ul Haq (56) Mohammad Hafeez (43), Asad Shafiq (30) and Umar Akmal (29) were the notable scorers.