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Ten years on from the inspired gamble that won the World Cup for India



A decade on from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011, relive the showpiece final of the incredible tournament.

MS Dhoni steered India to World Cup glory with a majestic innings, smashing the winning runs with a huge six over long-on.

The winning moment was a fitting finale for a spectacular roller-coaster of a match between the tournament joint-hosts, with a packed crowd in Mumbai put through the emotional ringer before the celebrations could truly get underway.

The First Innings: Sri Lanka recover to 274/6

Zaheer Khan’s remarkable opening five overs put Sri Lanka in trouble early on, with the Indian seamer going for just six runs in the spell and taking the scalp of opener Upul Tharanga – who fell for two runs off a painful 20 deliveries.

Tillakaratne Dilshan (33) and Kumar Sangakkara (48) got the innings going, but their dismissals put huge pressure on Mahela Jayawardene to deliver a potentially match-winning score from No. 4. But deliver is exactly what he did, finishing with an unbeaten 103* and putting on 63 from the last five overs alongside the power-hitting Thisara Perera (22*).

Khan was on the receiving end of much of the late damage, coming back from his impressive opening five overs to concede an eye-watering 54 off his remaining five to spoil what could have been special figures.

The Second Innings: Gambhir and Dhoni shine in India’s reply

Some supporters even left the ground as a brilliant opening spell from Lasith Malinga had India reeling at 31/2. The Sri Lankan strike bowler removed Virender Sehwag (0) with just the second delivery of the chase, and the Wankhede Stadium was reduced to pin-dropping silence when he had hometown hero Sachin Tendulkar caught behind for just 18.

Gautam Gambhir dug in to rebuild the innings, and was joined by captain MS Dhoni at the crease when Virat Kohli fell to leave the score 114/3 with 28.2 overs remaining.

There was some surprise to see that Dhoni had taken the brave gamble to promote himself above the in-form Yuvraj Singh in the batting order. But the decision – based on Dhoni having a better chance to bat through Muttiah Muralitharan’s remaining overs – paid off, with the skipper and Gambhir putting on a partnership worth 109 runs to give India a real chance.

There was still plenty of work to do when Gambhir fell to Perera just three runs shy of his century, but Yuvraj played a steady 21* from 24 balls at one end while his captain let fly at the other to guide India to victory.

The fact India reached their target with ten deliveries remaining makes the final overs look comfortable in hindsight, but it was Dhoni who removed that pressure, with the wicketkeeper-batsman smoking 20 runs off his last seven balls to avoid facing a potentially tricky final over against Malinga.

How the Captains Reacted

Sangakkara: “I’m very proud of everyone, especially Mahela who rose to the occasion and put up a great hundred. Both Sri Lanka and India will be proud with the way they have played, but India deserved this title, the way they played in front of a great crowd. The only way to stop India is to get at least seven wickets. Gautam was outstanding and Dhoni stepped up and performed. Congrats India, you were the better side today.”

Dhoni: “I took a quite few decisions tonight, if we hadn’t won I would have been asked quite a few questions: Why no Ashwin? Why Sreesanth? Why no Yuvraj, why did I bat ahead?! That pushed me and motivated to do well. I had a point to prove to myself. Virat and Gautam batted brilliantly; lots of singles. Then with the help of bit of dew we put pressure on the spinners. I would have liked Gautam to go on and get that big hundred.”

Tendulkar’s Crowning Glory

India’s greatest ever batsman was carried around his home stadium on the shoulders of his team-mates after winning the World Cup in his own city – a special moment for a special player.

A score of just 18 runs in the final wasn’t what the crowd at the Wankhede Stadium had been hoping for. But Tendulkar had already produced a tournament-defining performance to get the team to the final, picking up the Player of the Match award against Pakistan, and his teammate Kohli summed up the overriding sentiment when he said:

“Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It is time we carried him on our shoulders.” (ICC)




Moose signs up as cricket’s clothing partner



Moose CEO Hasib Omar hands over the new Sri Lankan jersey to Dimuth Karunaratne, who will make a return to the ODI side in the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan. SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva and CEO Ashley de Silva are also in the picture

by Rex Clementine  

Singer had been a loyal sponsor of Sri Lankan cricket but a little heard company called Dilmah outbid Singer when the sponsorship was up for grabs in 2002. Singer boss Hemaka Amarasuriya wasn’t whinging and went on record saying that he welcomed local companies coming forward to back the sport.

Within a few years, Dilmah, an entity that was hardly known by most Sri Lankans became a global brand. That exactly is the strategy that Moose have adopted in their bid to become a global brand.

Moose a clothing company that is becoming quite popular among youth for their denims and t-shirts have been associated with cricket sponsorships in the last five years. On Thursday, they announced a four year deal with SLC to be clothing sponsor of the national cricket teams – both men and women.

Moose CEO Hasib Omar is a soft spoken young man who reminds you of the great Aravinda de Silva. But like in Ara’s case, beneath the soft exterior lies a sharp brain.

MAS had been the clothing sponsor of SLC for the last 16 years and Moose has outbid them signing a four year deal that will take them through all bilateral series, ICC events and Asian Cricket Council tournaments.  The partnership brings together two of the nation’s main strengths – cricket and apparel industry.

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Dimuth’s return to ODIs, a welcome move



by Rex Clementine  

After more than two years of stubborn resistance, the selectors have been forced to bite the bullet and admit that their strategies have been faulty and the top order of the ODI outfit needs stability. Hence the return of Test captain Dimuth Karunaratne for white ball cricket for the upcoming three match series against Afghanistan and he should retain his place for the World Cup qualifiers later next month in Zimbabwe too.

One of the troubles with the 50 over side is that the batting department has been found wanting not able to bat out the 50 overs. Dimuth provides the stability opening the innings with his ability to bat through the 50 overs. Other stroke makers can bat around him.

In 2021 April, Dimuth Karunaratne posted his career best Test score of 244 against Bangladesh. A month later, Sri Lanka’s white ball team was touring Bangladesh and Dimuth was sacked from the captaincy as the leadership of the white ball teams was handed to Kusal Perera. It was a left field choice. That was an experiment that didn’t last long.

Not only was Dimuth removed from the captaincy he lost his place in the side as well. It didn’t dawn to the selectors that the batters will be encountering the same bowlers and in Karunaratne they had a man who was in good touch, having smashed a double hundred against the Bangladeshis. The result was catastrophic. Sri Lanka lost the series and in both games they lost, the batting had collapsed.

It is these senseless moves that has resulted in Sri Lanka being forced to play the qualifying round of the World Cup.  By the time the selectors wisened up, the horse had bolted. The recalling of Dimuth is an admission by the selectors that they had got their act wrong in axing him.

It will be early winter in Zimbabwe in June and with day games teams will encounter some dew in the morning and need to adjust accordingly.  On paper, Sri Lanka should go through, but they are a team that has got everything to lose having won the World Cup once and featured in two other finals. For smaller nations, this is a massive opportunity and if they win, there’s nothing like that but if they lose, they can always try next time. Not for Sri Lanka though, who have featured in every World Cup since the tournament was launched in 1975.

Complacency is the only thing that Sri Lanka need to guard themselves against. A mindset that this is not a tough challenge could see them losing the plot as we have seen it happening to many teams time and again.

In Chris Silverwood the team has someone who knows what to expect in Zimbabwe as he started his coaching stint there having overseen Mashonaland (Harare).  The Head Coach will be tapping into the brains of his contacts in Zimbabwe as to what his team can expect when they travel for the qualifiers.

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Russian doubles player cleared of match-fixing two years after Roland Garros arrest



Yana Sizikova has a career-high ranking of 44 in women’s doubles

Russian doubles player Yana Sizikova has been cleared of match-fixing two years after her arrest at the French Open, according to her lawyer.The 28-year-old was arrested at Roland Garros in 2021 as part of an investigation into match-fixing allegations dating back to the 2020 edition of the Grand Slam.

Sizikova, ranked 50th in doubles, has continued to play on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) Tour since her arrest and will compete at this year’s French Open, which starts today.

“After two and a half years of investigation, the Paris Public Prosecutor’s Office definitively closed the case on 11 April 2023, considering that criminal proceedings could not be initiated, as the facts of which Sizikova was accused could not be established,” her lawyer Frederic Belot told Reuters.

Officials began investigating in October 2020 after suspicions of “organised fraud” and “corruption in sports”.

A source close to the investigation told the BBC at the time the inquiry focused on a first-round match in which Sizikova and American partner Madison Brengle lost 7-6 (10-8) 6-4 to Romanian pair Andreea Mitu and Patricia Maria Tig.

Suspicions were reportedly raised after betting companies noticed hundreds of thousands of euros had been wagered on a break of serve in the second set.Sizikova was released a day after her arrest in 2021.In July 2022 she and fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova won the Prague Open, while Sizikova reached two other finals last year.

(BBC Sports)

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