Tendulkar hails World Cup triumph
A tearful Sachin Tendulkar admitted that winning the World Cup for India following their remarkable six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka in Mumbai was the proudest moment of his life.
All eyes were on the veteran batsman, who had a chance to score his 100th international century on his home ground but was dismissed for 18 after edging a Lasith Malinga delivery to wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara to leave India 31 for two.
Gautam Gambhir steadied the ship with a knock of 97, while man-of-the-match Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s stylish 91 not out ensured India overhauled Sri Lanka’s score of 274 for six and meant that Mahela Jayawardene’s unbeaten 103 earlier in the day was in vain.
Captain Dhoni, who had promoted himself up the order to number five, wrapped up the match in stunning fashion by drilling Nuwan Kulasekara over long-on for six to start the celebrations at the Wankhede Stadium.
Tendulkar was quick to praise the coaching staff and admitted to shedding tears of joy after winning the trophy that had eluded him throughout his illustrious international career.
The Little Master has played in six World Cup campaigns but the closest he had come to success before today was in 2003, when India were handily beaten by Australia in the final.
He said: “They are happy tears, so I don’t mind crying. It’s the proudest moment of my life. It’s never to late as they say so thanks to all my team-mates, without such fabulous performances and such consistency, it would never have happened.
"Our support staff worked very hard and for the last couple of days, we worked on our mental side, and dealing with expectations and pressure so I think that has really helped. The team stuck together through ups and downs and when people were doubting our ability."
When asked about self-belief within the team, Tendulkar added: “It has always been there but in the last couple of years, a little more than that. We’ve been extremely consistent and to be part of this team, it’s a great honour. A special thanks to (coach) Gary (Kirsten) and the whole staff.”
Tendulkar’s team-mates reflected on their delight at having helped him to win this competition at last.
India’s joy was a contrast to their despair of 2007 when they were also expected to beat the world yet went out in the group stages in the West Indies.
“2007 must have been a nightmare, and this is a dream,” said Gambhir. “All credit goes to Sachin Tendulkar. This is for him. It is a dream come true.”
Pace bowler Zaheer Khan, who, along with Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi, was the highest wicket-taker in the tournament with 21 scalps, had Tendulkar by his side when he said: “It is amazing. We all wanted it so badly and it is for the special man standing next to me.”
But Virat Kohli, in his first World Cup at 22, perhaps summed up best of all as he and his team-mates held Tendulkar aloft.
He said: “It’s a wonderful feeling right now and this World Cup goes out to all the people of India who have come here to support us as well. It’s my first World Cup and to win, I can’t ask for anything more.
"He’s (Tendulkar) carried the burden of the nation for 21 years so it’s time we carried him on our shoulders."