India advanced to their third Cricket World Cup Final with a 29 run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in an entertaining encounter at Mohali on Wednesday. Batting first, India were fortunate to set Pakistan a target of 261 with Sachin Tendulkar taking advantage of four dropped catches to top score with 85. India's effort proved to be just enough as their bowlers produced a top class effort, with all 5 men used picking up 2 wickets each, to bowl out Pakistan for 231 in the final over. The inability of the Pakistan batsmen to string together partnerships cost them dear in the end with not even one pair managing to cross 50 runs at the crease together. India thus continued their hoodoo hold over Pakistan in World Cups, registering their 5th consecutive win over their rivals on the biggest stage of them all.
It was a day when historic phrases had scope to get coined and patented. MS Dhoni's decision to leave out Ravichandran Ashwin on this Blue Riband game provided avenue for possible statements, if India lost, such as â€œDhoni, you left the World Cup sitting out in the hutchâ€, or â€œAsh to Ashish, World Cup to Dustâ€. Ashwin would have provided not just the attacking spinner, but lively fielding, a useful lower-order bat and a match-winning attitude. On the other hand, Nehra would be carrying a questionable mindset, having last bowled a match-surrendering last over against South Africa. Perhaps Dhoni felt he could do with the extra left-armer against a Pakistan side inundated with right-handers. The Pakistanis, on their part, defied popular demand by not allowing Shoaib Akhtar a final hurrah before retirement, and went in with the same team as the one that won them their quarter-final. With the previous night's rain having melted away, warm sunshine greeted the toss, which Dhoni won as he elected to bat.