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Essay Of World Cup 2011

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Preamble Good morning. So, the World Cup final. After 43 days, 20,781 runs, 721 wickets, one tie, umpteen near coronaries, a couple of iffy typos, an innings for the ages from Ireland's purple-haired warrior, no meltdowns and enough man love to make world peace a tantalising possibility if only the entire globe could embrace cricket, we've reached the end.

This might be the first World Cup final in any sport to come after the Lord Mayor's Show, but what a prospect it is. You could not ask for a more perfect final than this. India and Sri Lanka are the two best teams and the two co-hosts; they are so evenly matched that they even have the same strengths and weakness; and they have an all-time-great sniffing the mother of all fairytales: a 100th hundred for Sachin Tendulkar, or a matchwinning performance from Muttiah Muralitharan in his final match. Murali bowling to Sachin in a Super Over? Well, Dame Fortune, if you insist...

Murali is fit to play – well, he'll play – but there is no news on how Sri Lanka will replace Angelo Mathews, who is a deceptively big loss. They have had a pretty easy route to the final, whereas India have already won two finals just to reach the final. Which is better? That bit of history will be written by the victors.

This is the end, rubber-wristed friend Today is the final day of Muttiah Muralitharan's astonishing career, the last we'll see of those wild eyes, that child-like smile, and that superhuman wrist. So much has been written about him, and Mike Selvey's piece yesterday was a cracker, and there is very little to add. As well as being one of the greatest players of all time, he has been one of the nicest men ever to play the game. The dignity he has shown in the face of 15 years of whispers and moans, most of them factually incorrect, has been truly staggering and would be beyond at least 99.94 per cent of the population, while his simple, nerdish love of cricket remains totally infectious. The phrase is used a lot, but with Murali it is fair to say that we will never see the like again.

It's time for the toss Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Kumar Sangakkara, two devilishly cool characters who are textbook examples of modern masculinity, both look pretty relaxed. They even manage to stay completely calm when the toss goes completely wrong. The coin landed as heads, but because of the noise nobody heard Kumar Sangakkara's call and the match referee Jeff Crowe flicked the coin again. Sangakkara got it right second time, however. Sri Lanka have won the toss and will bat first.

Team news Sri Lanka have made four changes, including the omission of Ajantha Mendis. There was a hint that might happen, because India play him pretty well (he averages 95 in India in international cricket), but it is still a shock. They have also completely changed the balance of their side, with five bowlers rather than four, and two spinners rather than three. Chamara Kapugedera replaces the out-of-form Chamara Silva at No5, Thisara Perera is in for the injured Angelo Mathews, Nuwan Kulasekera replaces Rangana Herath, and the offspinner Suraj Randiv – who only arrived a couple of days ago as a replacement – comes in for Mendis.

India make just one change, with Sreesanth replacing the injured Ashish Nehra. That's a bit of a surprise, in that the pitch is expected to turn, but there should also be an unusual a

India Sehwag, Tendulkar, Gambhir, Kohli, Yuvraj, Dhoni (c/wk), Raina, Harbhajan, Zaheer Khan, Patel, Sreesanth.

Sri Lanka Tharanga, Dilshan, Sangakkara, Jayawardene, Samaraweera, Kapugedera, Perera, Kulasekera, Malinga, Randiv, Muralitharan.

9.59am statement of the bleedin' obvious It's the World Cup final! We've not had a really close one since 1987, but I've a hunch that will change today. Super Over please!

1st over: Sri Lanka 2-0 (Tharanga 0, Dilshan 0) The magnificent Zaheer Khan will open the bowling. The atmosphere is astonishing: part carnival, part bullring. His second ball is a gem that beats Upul Tharanga's nervous push. The first run comes from the fifth delivery, when Dhoni drops a wobbling delivery that goes for a bye. A quiet start. Sri Lanka's top four will bat carefully, with the exception of Dilshan, because there isn't much after them. If India can take two early wickets they will be in a helluva good position. "This is ridiculous, I'm genuinely nervous," says Jamie Kirkaldy. "I don't even know what I'm nervous about. I think it's because I desperately want two of the greats of the game to end today as a champion and I know that one of them will and one of them won't. And I have no idea which way round I want it." Agreed. The thought that either Thisara Perera or Sreesanth will end tonight as a loser is almost too much. Honk.

2nd over: Sri Lanka 7-0 (Tharanga 1, Dilshan 3) Sreesanth, who was last seen disappearing all round Mirpur in the opening game, will share the new ball. He has wild, finger-in-the-plug-socket hair, and his first ball brings a preposterous LBW shout when Dilshan is hit on the pads that would have only just hit another set. Then he bowls a front-foot no-ball, but Tharanga can only work the free hit for a single, breaking his bat in the process. Sreesanth, a real ma verick, is a fascinating selection: he could be a matchwinner but he could also be a matchloser, especially if his figures are, say, 10-0-394-0. Dilshan throttles a couple through the covers. It's been a relatively quiet start. "So we know who the Guardian is supporting," says Kartikey Srivastava. "Sangakkara blatantly cheated at the toss, how can you not know what you called? It doesn't matter if the referee didn't hear, the two captains can sort it out themselves. But you just call it a misunderstanding." Yes, and that dastardly swine Sangakkara also doesn't have an alibi for when JFK was shot. Some people say he wasn't even born, but that sounds a bit of a convenient excuse to me.

3rd over: Sri Lanka 7-0 (Tharanga 1, Dilshan 3) Tharanga looks a little nervous – you'd think this was a World Cup final or something – and hits the fielders with a couple of drives off Zaheer. He doesn't look nervous at all and is bowling with the certainty of an old don. Zaheer had an infamously diabolical start to the 2003 World Cup final, but this has been in total contrast: that's his second consecutive maiden. Outstanding stuff. "HAS ANYONE Won BATTING SECOND IN A WORLD CUP FINAL?" whispers Rahul Nayyar. Yes, but only two out of nine: 1996 and 1999.

4th over: Sri Lanka 9-0 (Tharanga 2, Dilshan 4) The commentators, Ravi Shastri and Russel Arnold, reckon Sri Lanka need at least 270-275. That sounds fair on what looks a good wicket, but it does place a huge amount of pressure on their top four. Dilshan and Tharanaga seem conscious of that, because they have started pretty cautiously – even Dilshan, who usually bats in a deranged bubble of his own. Two singles from Sreesanth's over. "Good morning," says John Starbuck. "I thought for a moment when I saw 'This is the end, rubber-wristed friend' that you were talking, one-to-one, with each of your readers, so accustomed have we become to reaching out for F5. It's been a damn good tournament though. What accolades would you hand out, and to whom?" Well first, let's do the whole High Fidelity where-does-it-rank jazz. Instinctively I would say it's been the best since 1996, maybe 1987 at a push. I've enjoyed it enormously, although I am glad it's almost over.

5th over: Sri Lanka 9-0 (Tharanga 2, Dilshan 4) This is brilliant from Zaheer, who is showing exceptional Tharanga management. He has now bowled 17 balls to him without conceding a run, and zips one past the outside edge in yet another maiden. Zaheer's figures are 3-3-0-0. In 2003, he was taken out of the attack after an opening spell of 3-0-28-0. As adverts for maturity go, this one's right up there. "In San Francisco," says Ankur Nagpal. "Ridiculously excited. No Americans here understand what the fuss is about. Alas. Come on India! Somewhat worried about Sreesanth I must add." He has started well, although you can tell India are also worried about him because they are given him enormous encouragement at the end of each over. It brings to mind that line in American Beauty: "Well done honey, I watched you carefully and you didn't screw up once!"

6th over: Sri Lanka 17-0 (Tharanga 2, Dilshan 12) Dilshan releases some of the asphyxiating pressure by clubbing Sreesanth for two boundaries in three balls. The first was a slightly contrived but well struck pull and the second a scorching cut past backward point. Sri Lanka really needed those. "Au contraire Mr Srivastava," says Gary Naylor. "Had Sanga wanted to cheat, he would have claimed to have called heads and nobody would have known had he called tails when the coin was in the air. The coolest of cats was honest and seized the initiative and the moral high ground all at once. And how ruthless is he, dropping Mendis? Hard heads to beat soft hearts and SL to win." Note to Indian readers, particularly those penning death threats: he said that, not me.

WICKET! Sri Lanka 17-1 (Tharanga c Sehwag b Zaheer 2) Upul Tharanga is put out of his misery. This has been a simply immense spell from Zaheer to Tharanga: 18 balls, no runs and now a wicket. Tharanga fiddles outside off stump at a good leg cutter and edges to the right of slip, where Sehwag takes a lovely low catch with both hands. Zaheer spreads his arms with an insouciance that says, 'Yeah, I am the man'. Damn straight he is. Tharanga made 2 from 20 balls; it was not one for the grandchildren.

7th over: Sri Lanka 19-1 (Dilshan 13, Sangakkara 1) Sangakkara gets off the mark first ball; it's also the first run off Zaheer, from his 20th delivery. He is such an important man today. He has batted like a lord in this tournament, but if he fails today Sri Lanka could get rolled over. India have started brilliantly, driven by a powerful sense of destiny. Zaheer's figures are 4-3-2-1. Where's Ted Rogers when you need him?

8th over: Sri Lanka 24-1 (Dilshan 16, Sangakkara 2) Munaf Patel replaces Sreesanth, and Sangakkara plays an unbecoming stroke, chasing a delivery that is called wide. If he's nervous, it must be a pretty big occasion. Dilshan then flashes a back cut that would have gone for four but for a brilliant stop by Zaheer Khan. India have been seriously sharp in the field. Meanwhile, this is a very interesting email from Raj: "Just saw that M Vaughan has tweeted suggesting that Sangakkara 'stuffed Dhoni at the toss', apparently his call of 'tails' could be heard clearly on air." Seriously? Oh my. If that's true, India will go ballistic if they lose this! Never mind the UDRS, the BCCI will want the toss banned. The ICC will probably agree to their entirely reasonable request that, as compensation, India automatically win the toss in every match for the next five years.

9th over: Sri Lanka 28-1 (Dilshan 19, Sangakkara 3) Sangakkara's (alleged) funny business brings to mind Salim Malik in 1995 (search for 'bird' on this link). Anyway, Zaheer continues. Normally he wouldn't bowl this long a spell with the new ball, but he is bowling so well that it makes sense to keep him on. Four runs from another fine over. "I'm an Icelander currently in the US. I know nothing about cricket," says Kári Tulinius. "In fact, when I was a kid, I thought cricket and croquet were the same game (an episode of Young Indiana Jones set me right). I only knew about the World Cup because comedian and cricket writer Andy Zaltzman, whose podcast The Bugle I listen to, would be spending a month following it. Yet I've found myself paying attention to the Cricket World Cup with mounting excitement, drawn in by the human drama of Sachin Tendulkar's last tilt at a World Cup. And now it's 3:30 in the morning and I'm having a hard time falling asleep because the final is going on. I'm curious if there are more people out there who've been drawn in by this World Cup who didn't follow cricket before."

10th over: Sri Lanka 31-1 (Dilshan 22, Sangakkara 3) Raina and Yuvraj have already saved at least 10 runs at backward point and in the covers, and Yuvraj adds to that total with a spectacular diving stop when Dilshan thrashes at one from Patel. Sreesanth then turns four into two with a diving save at deep backward square leg. It's hard to recall the last time India fielded so well. "Have to say I agree with your assertion that this is the best World Cup since 1996 and, should today's final live up to the hype, perhaps the best I can remember," says Jim Clear. "However, I wonder how much of that is due to the fact that Australia won't win it? Amazing team of course and all that but it's been great to see such an open tournament this year and of course we're all still revelling in an Aussie team of mere mortals aren't we?" Well, some of us aren't, but I take the point. And Australia were far too good in 2003 and 2007.

11th over: Sri Lanka 34-1 (Dilshan 25, Sangakkara 3) Sreesanth has switched ends and will replace Zaheer. We're now in the bowling Powerplay, and there are just three runs from the over. Sri Lanka won't be too bothered by this slow start, not while these two are at the crease. This approach is dependent one one of Sangakkara or Jayawardene making a big score, ideally a century. They are two of the surer things in world cricket, but that's a heck of a burden. "It would be such a shame," says Phil Withall, "if this already highly promising final is spoiled by controversy. 'Tossgate', as the tabloid's will no doubt name it could leave a nasty stain on the match." It's not beyond the realms that he genuinely forget. After all, if any atmosphere could justify the phrase "you can't hear yourself think", it's this one.

12th over: Sri Lanka 39-1 (Dilshan 26, Sangakkara 7) After a slow start – three from 16 balls – Sangakkara drives Patel deliciously through extra cover for his first boundary. Those are the only runs from the over. "For the benefit of those us having to use our imaginations could you please tell us which colours the teams are playing in," says Simon Henry. "As they have both played in blue throughout the competition is one of them now in their 'away' strip?" Nope, same strips. There's no need for an away kit in cricket, as it's not a contact sport. Well, except when Mark Ilott and Robert Croft have the battle fever on.

13th over: Sri Lanka 54-1 (Dilshan 31, Sangakkara 16) An excellent over from Sri Lanka goes for 15. Sangakkara is into his stride now and takes consecutive boundaries off Sreesanth with an on-the-walk chip over mid on and a delicious push between Sreesanth's legs. Sreesanth is then given an official warning for running on the pitch, and follows that up with his second front-foot no-ball of the day. Dilshan takes advantage, edging the free hit to third man for four. Sreesanth looks a bit down on his luck. He could be India's weak link today. Sangakkara didn't cheat at the toss after all. Thanks to Pranay Sanklecha for pointing us towards this article on the subject.

14th over: Sri Lanka 56-1 (Dilshan 31, Sangakkara 17) Another fine stop from Yuvraj at backward point, and then Sangakkara pushes a ball into the ground and up into his grille. What a great word 'grille' is. Two from Patel's over, and that's drinks. "Any chance for a plug for the final CWC Chuck Fleetwood-Smiths?" says our old friend Sam Collins. "It's got a Kiwi bowler with a water bottle, a Lion celebrating in the streets of Southall and an England seamer..." Don't tease us like that. IS IT SIMON BROWN?

15th over: Sri Lanka 58-1 (Dilshan 32, Sangakkara 18) Here comes Harbhajan Singh, who was quite outstanding against Pakistan on Wednesday. He starts around the wicket to the right-handed Dilshan, which is unusual for him, and there are two singles from a good over. In other news, this is a lovely email from Ivor Leonard. "Murali really is a terrific bloke. We live in Hobart (we're English) and SL were playing Tasmania in a tour game in 2008 on the day our first born was released from hospital. At the time we lived around 500m from the hotel the SL team were staying in. I'd been following the tour match on the radio and realised that they would be making their way back to the hotel about half an hour after we got home. I asked my wife if I could take our four-day-old son out for a walk and she agreed. I headed for the hotel and the team shortly arrived. I asked Muttiah if he would mind holding George and he was more than happy. He said he was scared of dropping him, I told him that looking at some of the catches he puts down so was I... he laughed and thankfully he didn't drop him! George is now 3 and I've shown him the picture of the two of them when Muralitharan has been playing and he recognises him... hopefully he'll have a great story to tell when he gets older. India were playing in Hobart a month later and unfortunately I had an unavoidable work meeting. Otherwise I'd have stalked Tendulkar as well!"

16th over: Sri Lanka 60-1 (Dilshan 33, Sangakkara 19) Two from Patel's over, including Dilshan's 500th of the tournament. He is currently the leading scorer, but that Tendulkar bloke is on 464 and could overtake him. For many teams this would represent an iffy start, but Sri Lanka do things differently because their batting order is so top-heavy, and they will be pretty relaxed. "Well," says Scott Poynting, "so much for M Vaughan's hearing then!" Maybe he had hearing problems when taking guard. That would explain all those dismissals playing down the wrong line at Brett Lee and Dale Steyn.

WICKET! Sri Lanka 60-2 (Dilshan b Harbhajan 33) What a freak! No not you, this dismissal. Dilshan tried to sweep a leg-side delivery from Harbhajan that bounced more than he expected, and the ball deflected off his wrist, back onto his body and finally onto the stumps.

17th over: Sri Lanka 63-2 (Sangakkara 20, Jayawardene 2) This partnership is, without doubt, the most important of the match. They have scored almost 10,000 runs as a partnership in international cricket, and they need at least a further 50 today or Sri Lanka will be in huge trouble. "It's crazy here in Mumbai," says Mihir Vasavda. "Never seen anything like this. I'm a journalist and have never seen a newsroom buzzing so much. Even when our PM was been sworn in."

18th over: Sri Lanka 65-2 (Sangakkara 20, Jayawardene 4) Jayawardene, who has had a quiet tournament, rolls the wrists to ping Patel through midwicket for two. That's the lot. "I used to have an assistant whose grandmother had held Murali as a baby," says Richard O'Hagan. "Cricketers holding babies is passe; holding baby cricketers is where it is at – as certain OBOers will be able to verify when my son makes his England debut in 15 years or so." An OBOer with assistants? Blimey.

19th over: Sri Lanka 77-2 (Sangakkara 26, Jayawardene 10) Jayawardene drives Harbhajan gracefully through the covers for his first boundary, and then Sangakkara has a reprieve. He was beaten in the flight by a gorgeous delivery from Harbhajan that took the edge and flew through the gully region for four more. Twelve from the over. "Quite right that Sreesanth should be given an Umpires warning for his haircut," says Keith Flett. "Umpires should be able to intervene if a player inappropriately deploys hair on the field of play."

20th over: Sri Lanka 83-2 (Sangakkara 27, Jayawardene 15) Sreesanth returns. This might be a good time to use up some of his overs, and there's also the chance he'll produce a snorter from nowhere. Not in that over, during which Jayawardene opens the face to steer the ball through the freshly vacant slip region for four. Sreesanth has a few words as a result – "Here he goes!" says a gleeful Bumble on commentary – but Jayawardene ignores him. He has started busily and has 15 from 16 balls. Sreesanth's figures aren't great: 6-0-39-0. "Here is a video of the toss," says Richard Neal. "Sounds more like heads to me but between YouTube and my laptop speakers, it's hard to tell."

21st over: Sri Lanka 86-2 (Sangakkara 30, Jayawardene 15) Sangakkara survives an optimistic LBW shout from Harbhajan – he was well down the pitch – and then works the next ball through midwicket for two. Three from the over. Low-risk accumulation will be the plan for the next 15 overs. So much depends on these two; too much really. "How many times in this year's tournament has a side batting second won?" says Sam Blackledge. "It seems that runs on the board have been worth quite a lot after the lights come on." After a very quick and possible erroneous fumble with Statsguru, I make it 17 each in day-night matches, with one tie.

22nd over: Sri Lanka 94-2 (Sangakkara 32, Jayawardene 21) Yuvraj Singh replaces the expensive Sreesanth. Do Sri Lanka target him? Ideally yes – as Sourav Ganguly says on Sky, Yuvraj was rattled when Umar Akmal took to him the other night – but they just cannot afford to lose a wicket for another 15 overs. Despite that, they are clearly going to put pressure on Yuvraj. Sangakkara comes down the track to loft a single, a nice statement of intent, and then Jayawardene pulls a poor delivery for four. Eight from the over. "Who'd be a friend of Geoffrey Boycott?" says David Wall. "During his last stint on TMS he laid into Jeff Crowe, beginning his criticism with 'I like Jeff but...'. He always did similar when commentating on the Ashes, particularly when having a go at Pietersen. It makes you wonder how much he does like the guy he's talking about, and certainly whether the admiration is mutual, in a similar way that the opening 'I'm not racist but...' immediately raises suspicions. That said, when he's sat with Agnew it's as good as commentary gets. Forget Blowers, Boycott is a national treasure and should be knighted (though not for services to mental health awareness obviously)."

The auto-refresh tool isn't working properly. Sorry about this. It's worth pressing F5 every few overs, especially if you want to read about Dilshan's wicket and the like.

23rd over: Sri Lanka 96-2 (Sangakkara 33, Jayawardene 22) Two singles from Harbhajan's over. There are no liberties to be taken against him. "Anand from the Netherlands, today in Belgium," says Anand from the etc. "I am totally unsettled today. Like the players, I also have my pre-match preparation and routine where I wake up with sufficient time to get rid of my morning drowsiness, find a good online streaming site and gradually slip into the game watching some of the so called experts talk about the game,
checking if they agree with me. However, for the most important match that I would watch in my cricket watching career, which is longer than either Sachin or Murali's, things have gone astray. I am in Belgium visiting a friend. He has suddenly had to work and until now, i have limited access to a computer and they have a dodgy wi-fi. Like the Sri Lankans, I need time to recover. Please help me!"

24th over: Sri Lanka 100-2 (Sangakkara 36, Jayawardene 23) Yuvraj hurries through his second over at a cost of – hang on, let me check – four runs, the last of which brings up the hundred. This is an ostensibly quiet but fascinating period of play, with both teams jockeying for position, knowing that the next wicket is huge. "I'm a Canadian of British heritage, but it wasn't until an extended motorbike trip around India that cricket and I crossed paths with any lasting dialogue," says Evan Herbert. "Now I'm up at 5am, slightly hungover, watching the final on some obscure website! Still learning the intricacies of fielding strategy, but otherwise fully engaged in a game that, other than our most recent South Asian arrivals, generally bores and confuses most Canadians."

25th over: Sri Lanka 105-2 (Sangakkara 39, Jayawardene 25) Sangakkara gets an overthrow after a direct hit from Yuvraj deflects off the stumps. Harbhajan is bowling well, having dropped his pace a touch on a pitch that is giving him a decent amount of bounce. Five from the over, all carefully played ones and twos.

26th over: Sri Lanka 111-2 (Sangakkara 40, Jayawardene 30) What a remarkable pair Sangakkara and Jayawardene are. They are outrageously good. Time after time they come together under pressure and make vital runs, apparently without breaking sweat. And, of course, with a style that could soothe the weariest eyes. In terms of the pantheon, I think they are a touch underrated actually, particularly Sangakkara. Jayawardene is worthy of the word 'great', too, and having missed one late cut at Yuvraj he connects with the second, placing it delightfully for four to bring an outstanding fifty partnership, an unobtrusive effort from only 56 balls. "I feel for Anand," says Clive Hedges, "and really would it be beyond the wit of the Guardian to give us BBB rather than just OBO?" I think the OBO format is much better, though obviously I would. Cricinfo do an outstanding job with the BBB, and I wouldn't fancy it, but OBO gives more scope for the digressions and riffs that some of our readers detest.

27th over: Sri Lanka 114-2 (Sangakkara 41, Jayawardene 32) Harbhajan spits one past Sangakkara's attempted cut, and then Jayawardene misses a late cut at a beauty that cramps him for room. Splendid stuff from Harbhajan. Jayawardene gets the late cut right next ball, and Tendulkar saves a couple with a wonderful tumbling save on the boundary at third man. As Nasser Hussain says on Sky, it might be time for two overs from Zaheer to see if it reversing. He only has five left, but he has such a habit of taking wickets when MS Dhoni really needs them. "So did you attend the anti-cuts march last weekend?" says Tom Seavers. "After some of your typos this tournament, I would have loved to have seen your placard..." I was in the office, watching England get their arts handed to them by Sri Lanka.

WICKET! Sri Lanka 122-3 (Sangakkara c Dhoni b Yuvraj 48) I don't believe this has just happened. It's an almighty bonus for India. Sangakkara tried to cut a poor delivery from Yuvraj, but the execution was wrong and he top edged it into the gloves of Dhoni. He walked straight off, disgusted to have got out in such a fashion and at a time when Sri Lanka had the game under complete control. I really cannot believe that has happened.

28th over: Sri Lanka 122-3 (Jayawardene 33, Samaraweera 0) That's yet another vital wicket for Yuvraj in this tournament. It would not be at all surprising if we look back on that as the decisive moment of the match. "Mahela eh?" says Gary Naylor. "Like VVS, he gives the lie to the impression that lefties are more elegant than right-handers. Are those two the last of a breed? Not many play like them these days." Haven't you been watching Cameron White?

29th over: Sri Lanka 128-3 (Jayawardene 34, Samaraweera 5) Sreesanth returns, and that means more runs for Sri Lanka. Samaraweera opens the face to steer his first boundary to third man. He has not even scored 100 runs in the tournament, so well have the top four played, although he looked pretty calm at the death against New Zealand. That's drinks. "Is it too early to start the Man of the Tournament discussion?" says Ronit Bhattacharya. "If India win this thing, I'd nominate Yuvraj for his all-round performance." I have whittled it down to a choice or, er, five: Yuvraj, Tendulkar, Zaheer, Afridi or Sangakkara. But we won't know until the end of this match. I've never understood the football culture of giving out the Golden Ball before the final. What a load of unfathomable horse pucky!

30th over: Sri Lanka 132-3 (Jayawardene 34, Samaraweera 9) Samaraweera makes room and late cuts Yuvraj for four. That's been a popular shot today. Those are the only runs from the over. So Sri Lanka are 132 for three after 30 overs; I reckon they'd be happy to double their score from here and leave it to the bowlers. "I'm still shocked that people don't 'get' the OBO concept," says Phil Withall. "I feel it's like having a lock-in at the pub. Strange people drift in and out, leaving their mark on the evening, but at the end of the day all know where they stand/slump. That is the joy of this site; long may it continue it's random meanderings." Exactly. Each his own. I completely understand why some people prefer ball-by-ball, or straight analysis. The worry is that so many people seem unable to comprehend that two grown men or women can have two different opinions or preferences. The sheer arrogance of the many 'change the OBO format, I don't like it' emails is breathtaking. I guess it's a natural consequence of the iGeneration.

31st over: Sri Lanka 139-3 (Jayawardene 40, Samaraweera 10) Sreesanth is haemorrhaging runs. His third ball is cut firmly for four by Jayawardene – are they trying to induce a typo or what – and there are three additional singles. Sreesanth's figures are 8-0-52-0. I'd give his last two overs to Raina, Sehwag, Tendulkar or Uncle Bulgaria. "Always thought M Vaughan was the elegant leftie's right-hander of choice," says Mike Hatcher. "Except when he missed those straight ones. But Mahela is Bergkampesque with his right-sided elan." He's New Labour?

32nd over: Sri Lanka 143-3 (Jayawardene 42, Samaraweera 12)
Samaraweera gets in a muddle when he tries to lap Yuvraj, and the ball goes through to Dhoni. There's a big appeal for caught behind, turned down by Aleem Dar, but after a long discussion India decide to take a chance on a review. This is very tight you know. The ball hits the pad and then loops up in the air, but does it hit the glove as well? I think it does, but the evidence is in no way conclusive and so I reckon he will get away with this. Indeed he does, to huge groans around the ground. That's the right decision, but I reckon he might well have gloved that. Anyway, Samaraweera will bat on.

33rd over: Sri Lanka 148-3 (Jayawardene 44, Samaraweera 14) This will get the ground going: Sachin is coming on to bowl. That's a smart move I think, to use up Sreesanth's last two overs. Mind you, it would be amusing to hear the silence if Samaraweera mowed him out of the ground. In fact, Tendulkar hurries through a decent over at a cost of five, four singles and a wide. "Post World Cup plans," says Aadik. "Are you going to sleep for a week? Triumphant India tour? The French Riviera on the Guardian expense account?" I'm off for a few days in the sunniest of climes. Copenhagen.

34th over: Sri Lanka 155-3 (Jayawardene 50, Samaraweera 15) Jayawardene has looked in great from from the first ball, and he pulls Yuvraj very fine for four to bring up the 150. Then, from the final ball of the over, he nurdles a single to reach an outstanding half-century from only 49 balls. "Well Clive, I for one hope that the OBO goes on as it is, intact, forever," says Tom Jenkins. "If only for that glorious sensation – that wave of self-defeating righteous justice – that I experience immediately after having finally admitted to myself that, despite that jiggerload of F5s, Rob has once again, quite rightly, decided not to include that most recent half-polished filth which I've just tossed in his direction. He gives and He takes away - He saves me from from the public shame and He leaves me to my self-hatred and humiliation. I ask you: where else can I get that sort of service and not have to pay?" You don't need to answer that question.

35th over: Sri Lanka 162-3 (Jayawardene 54, Samaraweera 16) A dodgy second over from Tendulkar includes two wides, but overall it costs seven, none in boundaries, and India will take that. Fifteen overs to go, from which Sri Lanka will want at least 100 more. "This may just be a matter of perception, but it seems to me that this tournament has seen a re-emergence of 'proper cricket' in the 50-over format," says Seth Levine. "Batsmen have thrived playing classical cricket strokes. Seamers have bowled good lines and lengths (no better example than Zaheer this innings – that opening spell would have graced any Test match). The best spinners have tossed it up. One of England's problems was playing pre-meditated sweeps and scoops, a la Twenty20 mode. Contrast that with the batting of the finalists, both of whom play the ball on the merits. I've enjoyed this tournament, as its been a reminder that 50-over cricket can be like a condensed Test match."

36th over: Sri Lanka 168-3 (Jayawardene 59, Samaraweera 17) This is an unexpected bowling change, with Virat Kohli coming on to bowl some medium pace. Jayawardene, who is playing with such serenity, back cuts the first ball for four. It's his seventh boundary and the fourth to that area of the field. Kohli almost strikes with the last ball however. Jayawardene gets in a mess while trying a premeditated lap, and the ball falls not far short of the man at short fine leg. "It's a testament to the goodwill that cricket has garnered recently in Ireland that our local boozer has promised me to put the second innings on their telly for my benefit, despite the premier league being back on today," says Walter Jayawardene. "Hopefully my namesake will do the biz!"

37th over: Sri Lanka 171-3 (Jayawardene 60, Samaraweera 18) Yuvraj replaces Tendulkar, and there are three singles from the over. Who's on top? Don't ask me. Ask William Goldman. "Aside from your strong case for inclusion for the sheet volume of coverage, I think you're on the mark with your men of the tournament – though I might also include Murali for the sheer cussedness of bowling on one leg throughout the knockout stages," says Andrew Stroud. "Performance of the tournament perhaps a bit predictable, but for the sheer unpredictability and jaw dropping Astle-like this-can't-possibly-be-happening-ness of it all then it has to be THAT game and THAT innings." Correct. I'm surprised that innings doesn't get more credit. Kevin O'Brien didn't just break the World Cup record, he took nearly a quarter off it.

38th over: Sri Lanka 179-3 (Jayawardene 65, Samaraweera 21) Zaheer Khan is coming back. He's a champion with the old ball, and he still has five overs remaining. Theoretically, anyway: he is moving a little gingerly after hurting himself with a dive in the outfield earlier in the day. He goes for his first boundary of the innings when Jayawardene opens the face to glide one wide of Dhoni. What an innings he is playing; 65 from 61 balls now. If he gets a hundred it will be right up there with the great World Cup final innings. "I'd like to have an e-mail published in the World Cup Final OBO," says Colum Farrelly. "Can you let me know how?" I just can't say no.

WICKET! Sri Lanka 179-4 (Samaraweera LBW b Yuvraj 21) An excellent review from India, and that rarest of birds: a decision from Simon Taufel that is overturned. Samaraweera went a long way across and missed a premeditated lap at Yuvraj, who implored his captain to review the decision when Taufel said not out. Eventually Dhoni went upstairs, and replays showed that it hit Samaraweera in line and would have hit middle two-thirds of the way up.

39th over: Sri Lanka 181-4 (Jayawardene 66, Kapugedera 1) The new batsman is Chamara Kapugedera, who is playing in the tournament for the first time. "If India win the World Cup, it would be despite Dhoni than because of him," says Rohit Negi. "Some of his team selections have been absolutely baffling: persisting with Chawla, not playing Ashwin, dropping Sreesanth after only one game then suddenly including him in the FINAL! And apart from general composure in the field, can't think of anything particularly extraordinary he's done as the captain. Of course, his batting has disintegrated almost entirely. Its just that he has a number of matchwinners in the team." 'Apart from general composure in the field'? And apart from the roads, what did the Romans etc? I take your point, but I think Dhoni has been wonderful in the field. You could certainly query the omission of Ashwin in the last two games, but you can understand why he wanted three seamers.

WICKET! Sri Lanka 182-5 (Kapugedera c Raina b Zaheer 1) Magnificent bowling from Zaheer Khan. Kapugedera was duped by a lovely slower ball and chipped it gently to Raina at short extra cover. Zaheer spreads his arms in that same I'm-the-man pose. Quite right, too. He has been awesome in this World Cup.

40th over: Sri Lanka 183-5 (Jayawardene 67, Kulasekera 1) Kulasekera comes in ahead of Perera. Jayawardene's wicket is absolutely vital now. If he goes, Sri Lanka will struggle to reach 250; if he stays, they could push up to near 280. That's the end of another brilliant over from Zaheer, whose figures are a stunning 7-3-16-2. That's his 21st wicket of the tournament, so he is now joint top with Shahid Afridi. "OBOers may be interested in this," says Gary Naylor. "There's the movie and a Q and A after. OBOers shouldn't let my presence put them off." I saw it a few months back – it is very good indeed.

41st over: Sri Lanka 186-5 (Jayawardene 68, Kulasekera 3) Excellent stuff from Yuvraj, whose final over goes for just three singles. He ends with good figures of 10-0-49-2. For a fifth bowler, he's had a seriously good tournament. "You want to be careful focusing on all those cut shots," says Robin Hazlehurst. "The typo has a doosra too, and while you're busy not making errors to the standard delivery of the cut, one will turn the other way and you'll have someone bunting the ball down long off's throat in an unfortunate way. Which may be quite amusing."

42nd over: Sri Lanka 192-5 (Jayawardene 69, Kulasekera 8) Munaf Patel is on for Zaheer, who will bowl his last three overs right at the death. Kulasekera flicks one extravagantly round the corner, and Yuvraj Singh does very well to save the boundary. India have been so good in the field. Six from the over. "Walter Jayawardene has the best name in the world," says Paul Griffin. "Can I buy it off him, or even rent it on alternate Thursdays?"

43rd over: Sri Lanka 199-5 (Jayawardene 72, Kulasekera 11) Here's Harbhajan, who has three overs remaining. The first of those goes for seven, fsix singles and a wide. "Is it me, or is today's OBO focussing rather worryingly on the actual cricket?" says Matthew Rimmer. "I was under the impression that this was a forum for sarcasm, fish finger recipes and slating Mac Millings."

44th over: Sri Lanka 205-5 (Jayawardene 77, Kulasekera 12) Kulasekera survives a review for caught behind. He seemed to top edge a cut at Patel through to Dhoni. Patel didn't even appeal, going straight into a celebration, but Aleem Dar said not out. India decided to review the decision, but that's a risk with caught-behind decisions. There was no deviation but there was a definite noise on a couple of the replays – and that noise could only have been an edge. I am sure that's out. However, as with the earlier appeal, the evidence is not conclusive and therefore Kulasekera survives. After Tendulkar's let offs the other day, India and the UDRS is becoming the most torrid relationship this side of Heathcliff and Cathy. Anyway, that was the first ball of the over, and from the fourth Jayawardene plays a gorgeous square drive for four. He has 77 from 74 balls, and his heart hasn't yet skipped a beat.

45th over: Sri Lanka 211-5 (Jayawardene 79, Kulasekera 16) Kulasekera has played pretty sensibly, content to turn the strike over as often as possible. Six from Harbhajan's over, all in ones and twos.

46th over: Sri Lanka 220-5 (Jayawardene 85, Kulasekera 19) Sri Lanka take the batting Powerplay at the last moment, so that means a return for Zaheer Khan. After five singles from the first five balls, Jayawardene makes room to drive a yorker through the covers for four. That's a gorgeous piece of batting. Not quite as good as pinging a yorker over square leg for six, as Viv did in 1979, but still incredibly good. "You have to admire the evil genius of the marketing maven who came up with the idea of playing a gigantic heartbeat when the third umpire's taking a decision," says Shailesh Rai. "It forces me to go to the loo even when the decision's pretty straightforward. I can only imagine what it does to the spectators on the field."

47th over: Sri Lanka 231-5 (Jayawardene 90, Kulasekera 25) A fine over for Sri Lanka, with Patel going for 11. Kulasekera pulls the first ball round the corner four, Jayawardene deliberately slices the third wide of short third man to the boundary, and there are three singles on top of that. "I love the OBO," says Joanna Quinn, correctly reasoning that brazen sycophancy will ensure email publication. "Don't go changin, Rob. I'm pretty new to cricket and have not yet developed the robot brain capable of working with a ball by ball format/geeky analysis. Plus, the general OBO discussion around the game helps a crikkit eejit like me learn more about it - and it makes me laugh. I still chuckle to myself remembering the man emailing in during the Ashes who was stuck in his office post-work-Christmas party (but had gone home to get his glasses?). Don't listen to the iNaysayers neither. I am repeatedly hitting F5 in furious defiance of their complaints."

WICKET! Sri Lanka 248-6 (Kulasekera run out 32) What an over. It includes Jayawardene's hundred, 17 runs off Zaheer Khan, and finally a run out. When the ball goes through to Dhoni, Kulasekera takes one for the team, setting off so that Jayawardene can keep the strike. Dhoni hits the stumps and Kulasekera, who clouted Zaheer for six earlier in the over, goes for a superb 30-ball 32. There was a nice touch as he walked off, with Jayawardene putting an arm round his waist to thank him, both for the sacrifice and a very sensible supporting innings.

48th over: Sri Lanka 248-6 (Jayawardene 100, Perera 0) Earlier in the over, Jayawardene reached an immense hundred with consecutive boundaries off Zaheer. It took just 84 balls, and this has been a staggeringly good innings. He has used a thread of silk for a bat and has been in a zone of almost perfect serenity. How can you play so well under such pressure? "If there was such a thing as a Champ Man for cricket, then Walter Jayawardene would be a classic re-gen," says Steve Betteley. "Right up there with my left back in year 2007 of a CM 93/94 game, Carlton Kanchelskis."

49th over: Sri Lanka 256-6 (Jayawardene 102, Perera 5) The penultimate over of the innings, from Harbhajan, goes for eight – four singles and a primeval smear down the ground for four by Perera. Sri Lanka have scored 45 from four overs in this Powerplay.

50th over: Sri Lanka 274-6 (Jayawardene 103, Perera 22) What a finish from Sri Lanka! Zaheer's last over of the innings goes for 18, with Thisara Perera smacking the last ball of the innings for six! That makes it a massive 63 from the batting Powerplay. Perera spanks a low full toss through extra cover for four, clubs another just over mid on, and then smashes the last ball of the innings into the stands. That's a wonderful piece of death hitting, 22 from 9 balls, while Mahela Jayawardene walks off after making a stunning 103 not out from 88 balls. That is a brilliant effort at the end from Sri Lanka, and now India will need 275 to win. Sean Ingle will talk you through the first part of the Indian reply in 10 minutes or so. You can email him on sean.ingle@guardian.co.uk

INNINGS BREAK

A charity plug, while you wait One of our team, Steph Fincham, is cycling across Sri Lanka next February for MAG (Mines Advisory Group), a humanitarian organisation clearing the remnants of conflict for communities worldwide. "Thousands of Sri Lankans remain in displacement camps, having been uprooted during the civil war," she says. "The presence of landmines remain a major obstacle to their safe return home. Large areas remain uninhabitable. I took my 12-year-old son to Sri Lanka for the cricket World Cup and we were bowled over (yes, really) by the beauty of the country and people..."

You know what to do. But only if you want to, obviously. There's no peer pressure here. If you want to keep all your money and never give any of it to good causes, ever, and you can live with that, then that's fine. No, honestly, it's fine. Er, yes. Anyway, if you do wish to donate, here's the link.

India innings So, how do you call this one? According to the odds, India are paper-thin favourites but I can't split them. What we do know is that the average ODI score in the last six games at the Wankhede stadium is 263, which suggests Sri Lanka's score is at least par. Meanwhile Colum Fordham writes: "Playing cricket with two young sons in Piazza Dante in Naples surrounded by enthusiastic Sri Lanka fans watching the match on an impromptu screen, whilst other Sri Lankan kids play as well, to general indifference/surprise of passing Neapolitans." Ah Naples, home of Pizzeria Michele, arguably the best pizzeria in Italy.

WICKET! Sehwag lbw Malinga 0 Virender Sehwag has smashed a boundary off the first ball of six of India's eight matches at this cricket World Cup, but he's much more circumspect today, blocking Malinga's first delivery. Malinga's second - an inswinger - hits his legs, there's a huge appeal for lbw, and he's given out! Wait, Sehwag is immediately reviewing it. After a series of replies show there was no bat on ball, and the delivery was going to hit the stumps, Sehwag is given out "Cracking effort by the Sri Lankans, a genuinely great knock from Jayawardene, weathering the early pressure then hitting back memorably at the finish," says Martin Duckworth. "I'd venture those extra runs from Perera at the end will seem to be worth twice as much in a couple of hours time. If India can win this under the most extreme pressure in sport my hat will be well and truly doffed in their direction. Game on."

1st over: India 4-1 (Gambhir 4, Tendulkar 0) Gambhir is immediately off the mark with a boundary off his pads which squirts past square leg. Sri Lanka are bringing in a widish leg slip here ... which is interesting, if unorthodox. "Seriously? You've slogged your way through the entire tournament and then your boss steps in to hog the limelight in the final innings?" fumes Brian Cloughley. "Shocker." Don't worry Brian, Rob is just have a short - and well deserved - break.

2nd over: India 10-1 (Gambhir 5, Tendulkar 4) Sachin Tendulkar immediately gets off the mark to Nuwan Kulasekara's first delivery, steering it to backward point. A punchier shot later in the over to pick up another three runs. Early days, but he looks in good nick. "I've been backing Sri Lanka from the start and see no reason to switch horses now," pronounces Gary Naylor from his spot on Mount Sinai. "250 would have been a good score - 274 is surely a winning score." Bit early to say that Gary, surely?

3rd over: India 15-1 (Gambhir 5, Tendulkar 9) Lovely stuff from Tendulkar, who flicks one his wrists to midwicket to pick up a couple before tenderly guiding a cover drive between two fielders for three more. Five off the over. "There's no way any pizza could be better than at Di Matteoon Via Tribunali, the world's best Margherita, best anything, lines around the block all day long," insists Jack Altman. "And while not so great at cricket, Napoli will surprise everyone and take both Milan teams for the scudeto."

4th over: India 26-1 (Gambhir 7, Tendulkar 18) There's a danger of anointing an innings when it's still in its embryonic stages, but right now Tendulkar is playing with the beauty of a late Beethoven symphony. He prods Kulasekera down the ground for a boundary, then brutally cuts him away for another four. Eleven off the over. "How exciting is this already Sean?" asks Clare Davies. You should my pulse; it's thumping away like Yuvraj against Stuart Broad back in 2007. "India unsettled at the very start losing Sehweg – and you should here Vaughan berating him on TMS for his selfishness in wasting a review – and the mood of the crowd changing by the ball. Silence as the wicket falls, huge cheer for a single run. This is set up for a brilliant couple of hours." Amen to that.

5th over: India 27-1 (Gambhir 7, Tendulkar 18) While the Indian batsmen are making hay against Kulasekera they are rightly respectful against Malinga, whose baseball-style sliders and toe-shattering yorkers have been right on the money thus far. Just one off the over, and he nearly enticed Tendulkare into an edge off the final delivery. "The cheek!" splutters PJ Connolly. "You've been here for two overs and you feel you have the authority to question the teachings of Gary Naylor?" In fairness, I did start the whole comments in live commentary thing back in 2002, PJ (check South Africa v Spain in the 2002 World Cup).

6th over: India 31-1 (Gambhir 11, Tendulkar 18) Good stat from cricket betting writer Ed Hawkins, who tweets that 229-5 is the highest chase under lights at the Wankhede (Sri Lanka v India 1997). Sri Lanka, meanwhile, have made their first bowling change, bringing on Perera. It's a decent first over, the only runs from it are from a loose slash by Gambhir that was nearly caught at gully. "Beethoven symphony?" splutters Jeremy James, quite rightly before putting me right. "A piano concerto more likely, weaving his magic to a background of orchestra and cacaphony. Are you going to be the new Neville Cardus?" I wish.

WICKET! Tendulkar c Sanggakara b Malinga 18 (India 31-2) Malinga takes Tendulkar's wicket! Tendulkar went at a slightly widish one and thick edged behind it to Sangakkara. As the noise in the Wankhede Stadium dropped about 120 decibels, Malinga went on spiralling 50-yard victory charge. Can you blame him?

7th over: India 32-2 (Gambhir 12, Kohli 0) On Sky, the commentators are pointing out that India bat deep; at the moment it looks they will need to. Virat nearly edged Malinga behind there; chasing one that bounced higher than he expected. Malinga (4-1-11-2) finishes with a wicket-maiden. "If Tendulkar is playing like a Beethoven symphony would you say Sewhag was playing like James Blunt's 1973?" asks Jonah Gadsby.

8th over: India 33-2 (Gambhir 13, Kohli 0) Like the scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones shoots the sword wielding baddie, losing Sehwag and Tendulkar this early wasn't in the script. So despite the return of Kulasekera the Indian batsmen are unsurprising watchful. Meanwhile Thomas Hopkins writes: "England may have invented football, but now it belongs to the world. Likewise, you may have invented the comments in live commentary concept, but now it belongs to Naylor."

9th over: India 35-2 (Gambhir 15, Kohli 0) Malinga out, Perera in. Interesting discussion from Tom Moody on commentary - he admits that when he coached Sri Lanka, losing Sannath Jayasuriya "would send shudders through the dressing room", and he speculates that India might be feeling something similar now. Certainly Virat Kohli is struggling; he's yet to get off the mark in nine deliveries. "Someone said this on Cricinfo and I checked it: Jayawardene has 13 ODI hundreds, and in EVERY SINGLE ONE he was on the winning side," says Steve Anthony. "Looks like it's going to be 14. What an innings. Love the silk thread/serene quote..."

10th over: India 41-2 (Gambhir 15, Kohli 6) Kohli finally gets off the mark, swiping Kulasekara's stray delivery off his pads for four. A couple more follow and that's six off the over. Still, this is India's lowest score after 10 overs in this World Cup. Meanwhile Gary Naylor has issued a warning: "If you're going to mix classical music and cricket, you'll end up channelling Michael Henderson and lose all your readers!"

11th over: India 50-2 (Gambhir 22, Kohli 8) There's a touch of the Astaires about Gambhir as he steps down the track and hits Perera over midwicket for a boundary. Five more runs in ones and twos follow, including a quickly-taken couple to Murali which brings up the 50. Meanwhile Apurba writes: "What do Sachin Tendulkar and Thierry Henry have in common? Both are brilliant, both can't score in a final. Sad sad sad." A little harsh, Apurba ...

12nd over: India 61-2 (Gambhir 28, Kohli 13) Kulasekara continues with his middle-of-the-road trundlers but he is causing few problems for the batsmen. Gambhir adds another boundary - and goes over 4,000 ODI runs (with an average of 40.44) - with a hoik over the covers. Another boundary to fine leg from Kohli follows. "As a loyal but not uncritical Australian, I must admit this is the first World Cup Final in many years I have enjoyed," writes Gervase Greene. "Not being quite as involved - and indeed, falling at the pen-penultimate hurdle, where one can't even seethe with any real sense of credible malevolence – I am actually enjoying this tense-fest. Cricket is perhaps not designed to be enjoyed (pax, that novice Canadian earlier), but in a post-Gilchrist world I am finding worthy and willing competition a more than adequate replacement." Agreed.

13rd over: India 68-2 (Gambhir 30, Kohli 16) Sri Lanka were marginal favourites when Tendulkar went, but the odds have flip-flopped again, and now India are rated as having the edge. Certainly this wishy-washy bowling is helping them - Perera gifted two wides that over and there were too many easy ones and twos. Still no sign of Murali, or any spin for that matter. Meanwhile an interesting point from David Affleck re Sachin Tendulkar: "18 runs are better than 0. Tendulkar can score in a final, but they just weren't big scores. It's a team game anyway, so it doesn't matter what each individual gets. The obsession with individuals misses the point about a game like cricket."

14th over: India 72-2 (Gambhir 33, Kohli 17) Suraj Randiv - whose figures in ODI cricket are 22 wickets in 22 matches with an economy rate of 4.65 - comes to to peddle his offspinners. And almost immediately there's a chance! Kohli decides to go airbourne, mistimes his shot but Kula drops it at long off! Four off the over. "I'm a great believer in omens during any sport and there's just been a very good one – though I'm not for which team it will work," says Claire Davies. "I had to call out the plumber this morning to deal with a blocked loo. He's just been and far from presenting me with a weekend-rate call-out charge hideous fee, he simply applied the plunger, it took about two mins, and no charge at all! How cool is that?" Don't ask me; how would I know?

15th over: India 76-2 (Gambhir 36, Kohli 19) And still the singles come, like visitors to an early 1990s swap meet, until Gambhir brings up the 50 partnership with an efficient brush off his legs. So far Perera is about as threatening as a plate of peas. "Congratulations, Clare," writes Phil Sawyer. "That must be the first time the words 'toilet plunger' and 'cool' have been used in the same sentence." Anyway, that's drinks - and that's it from me. Rob Smyth will guide you through to the end of this intriguing final.

Hello again. Did you miss me? Oh, okay. Anyway, there are two precedents here for India – one good, one bad.

1. A stiff chase against Sri Lanka in the knockout stages of 'their' World Cup unravels against the spinners.

2. A couple of kids come of age as India come back from the brink in a major final.

16th over: India 86-2 (target 275; Gambhir 41, Kohli 23) The offspinner Randiv will continue. He is Sri Lanka's Indian specialist: this is his 31st match for his country, and 1y have been against India. That's why he has jumped the queue only a couple of days after arriving in the country. Five from the over, all in ones and twos.

17th over: India 91-2 (target 275; Gambhir 42, Kohli 24) An offspinner comes into the attack in place of Perera, but it's Dilshan rather than Muralitharan. His first ball is a wide that goes down the leg side for a couple, then Kohli is beaten when he tries to cut a fullish ball that skids on. This is wonderfully poised. "Gambhir's performance, using the Tendulkar Beethoven scale, is probably The Smiths ranging to New Order," says Jonah Gadsby.

18th over: India 96-2 (target 275; Gambhir 47, Kohli 24) Gambhir is an excellent nurdler of spin, India's best, but he can also pull out the big strokes, and in that Randiv over he plonks his back leg down and dumps a slog-sweep for four. Then Kohli inside-edges one into the groin and to safety on the off side, although Sangakkara made a desperate attempt to run round and catch the ball. "Did you lunch on samosas and Tiger beer?" says John Starbuck. "It always help to get in the mood if you suit your cuisine to the game at hand. Panther Sweat might be more appropriate for this one though." I had some don't say it, Smyth, don't do it, you'll lose your last fan Ravi-Kohli. Ravi-Kohli! Ra- ah never mind.

19th over: India 99-2 (target 275; Gambhir 50, Kohli 24) Here he is. For the last time, and almost 19 years after Allan Border sized him up and thought he was facing a legspinner, Murali comes into the attack. It's his last supper, and first on the menu are Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli. There should have been a wicket second ball – but from a run out rather than off Murali's bowling. He took a very dodgy two to deep backward point, and was short of the ground when the throw reached Sangakkara almost on the half volley, but he could not collect the ball and break the stumps. It was a really difficult one for Sangakkara to deal with. That takes Gambhir to 49, and then he works a single to reach an excellent half-century from 56 balls. Three from Murali's first over.

20th over: India 105-2 (target 275; Gambhir 51, Kohli 29) Gambhir is beaten, groping at a brutish delivery from Randiv that turns and bounces into the gloves of Sangakkara, and then Kohli flicks one very fine for four. India have done extremely well after that traumatic start, and these two have scored so quickly that the required rate is still below a run a ball. "Let's keep the wild speculation alive, especially now that Sachin's century of centuries is off the menu," says Jeffrey Feim. "Isn't a tie the third possibility - then it goes to cricket's equivalent of a penalty shootout?" If he gets a century in the Super Over, after a comic flurry of no-balls, does that count?

21st over: India 109-2 (target 275; Gambhir 53, Kohli 31) Murali is bowling around the wicket to the right-handed Kohli, as ever. India would probably take figures of 10-0-40-1 for him, and there are four singles from that over.

WICKET! India 114-3 (Kohli ct and b Dilshan 35) What a catch from Tillakaratne Dilshan! He came on in place of Randiv and struck a crucial blow with his fourth ball. Kohli drove the ball back whence it came and, although the presence of Gambhir could and should have put him off, Dilshan leapt to take a beautiful one-handed catch high to his right. Gambhir actually backed away; had he stood his ground he would probably have worn an accidental flying headbutt from Dilshan. Anyway, Dilshan has been the top scorer in the tournament, yet we may well end up recalling his World Cup 2011 for what he did with the ball and in the field in that spellbinding moment.

22nd over: India 115-3 (target 275; Gambhir 54, Dhoni 0) Well, well, MS Dhoni has brought himself in ahead of Yuvraj Singh. That is a major surprise because he is in terrible form, whereas Yuvraj has arguably been the man of the tournament. Tom Moody reckons it is a left-hand/right-hand thing. Dhoni, driving, is beaten by a beautiful quicker ball. "I'm supposedly preparing a sermon for tomorrow morning," says Sarah Jones. "I fear I may have to rewrite Psalm 23 – The Lord's my umpire, I shall not sledge … Yea, though I walk in the valley of the shadow of the doosra, I shall fear no evil …
"

23rd over: India 117-3 (target 275; Gambhir 55, Dhoni 0) Two from Murali's over, so he has started well: 3-0-8-0. "Great to see Kohli getting recognition.," says Seth Levine. "So much more sustainable than cod (if you can't get that gag in on the Guardian, what chance have you got?)." Yes, we are short of emails.

24th over: India 122-3 (target 275; Gambhir 59, Dhoni 1) Dhoni drives a bump ball down the ground, and this time Gambhir does stand his ground, which means Dilshan ploughs into him. Gambhir, for his part, is Bevaning the ball around extremely well. It's in his hands. Five from the over. "Why does Dilshan always look so worried in the field?" says Scott W. "Even after he took that catch he looked daunted." He's not sure whether he locked the back door or not. Poor bugger has had to carry that on his shoulders for seven weeks now.

25th over: India 124-3 (target 275; Gambhir 60, Dhoni 2) Another fine over from Murali costs just two. He clearly isn't fit, but he's playing an excellent hand and has conceded just 10 from his four overs. The required rate, for the first time, is above a run a ball.

26th over: India 128-3 (target 275; Gambhir 62, Dhoni 4) Dilshan, like Yuvraj, is an underrated one-day spinner, with a habit of picking up vital wickets. He's milked for four in that over; Sri Lanka will take that all day, and all of the night. "The contrast between many of the matches in this tournament and any number of bilateral ODI series, is marked," says Gary Naylor. "Why not keep a big World Cup (with four Associate nations) and the short, sharp Champions Trophy on four-year cycles and only allow fifty over cricket in the six months leading up to those tournaments? That would keep the showpieces, make space for lots of Twenty20 crowd-pleasers and reduce players' workloads." I like this idea a lot, but there is more chance of me waking up tomorrow as Ferris Bueller.

27th over: India 134-3 (target 275; Gambhir 67, Dhoni 5) An aggressive more from Kumar Sangakkara, who returns to Lasith Malinga to see if this oldish ball will reverse swing. Both batsmen shorten their backlift accordingly. There's a hint of shape, but Gambhir is able to open the face and squeeze one to third man for four. "Thanks to all who have donated, incredibly kind, a great boost," says Steph Fincham, who is cycling across Sri Lanka in February. "Would love to say I'd just got back from a 100km training ride, but that will have to wait till the World Cup is over..."

28th over: India 142-3 (target 275; Gambhir 74, Dhoni 6) Gambhir charges Dilshan, who sees him coming and spears it into towards the pads, and Gambhir is very lucky to get an inside edge to fine leg for four. India need 133 from 132 balls. Could this be more perfectly poised? "As if the cricket wasn't gripping enough, watching on a feed from India I get ads from the National Egg Coordination Committee," says Jon Stibbs. "Is it cowardly to pray for egg sandwiches?"

29th over: India 146-3 (target 275; Gambhir 76, Dhoni 8) After one over of Malinga, it's the loveable wild-eyed nerd to resume. It's yet another tight over from Murali, just four singles from it. "You are not wrong about the climate in Copenhagen," says Lars Eriksen. "Summer just arrived today so I've taken the laptop and the OBO outside in the sun. The herring has been pickled, a beast of a pork shoulder is nestled in brine and the authorities have been alerted ahead of your impending visit."

30th over: India 151-3 (target 275; Gambhir 76, Dhoni 12) Thisara Perera comes on for Dilshan. He could be a weak link, and Dhoni muscles his first ball into the leg side for a couple. A couple singles bring up the 150, and India need 124 from 120 balls. I reckon they are slight favourites. Sri Lanka certainly need a wicket. "The Beard Liberation Front says that Malinga is now ahead of Yuvraj by a whisker in the battle for Beard of the World Cup," says Keith Flett.

31st over: India 157-3 (target 275; Gambhir 77, Dhoni 17) That's a fine shot from Dhoni, who crashes the first boundary off Murali through the covers. Sri Lanka's need for a wicket is becoming urgent. "Although not a Test Match, this is definitely tea time so I have unleashed a slice of special honey cake – the honey having been made by our local monks at Pluscarden Abbey," says Clare Davies. "I feel that a blessed cake will be good luck for ensuring this match stays tight and exciting. Wicket please Sri Lanka."

32nd over: India 165-3 (target 275; Gambhir 79, Dhoni 23) A disgusting delivery from Perera, short and wide, is belaboured over the covers or four by Dhoni. He is looking dangerous, and India have stealthily moved into a position from which they really should win this game. They need 110 from 108 balls with seven wickets remaining, and that's drinks. "This is enthralling stuff, watching Murali trying to bend the match to Sri Lanka, and the tension is palpable," says Guy Hornsby. "What a send off for the genial magician. I never thought I'd be this nervous watching anyone other than England. This is a crucial partnership. You feel if they make it to 40 overs, India will get home. Not sure I can handle a tight finish with my hangover. I had a battle with Liver Compromiser last night, and came off a distant second."

33rd over: India 170-3 (target 275; Gambhir 80, Dhoni 27) Kulasekera, who has also gone for a few, replaces Murali. That's a counter-intuitive change from Kumar Sangakkara, because you'd think he'd want his best bowlers on. Dhoni waves a couple through the covers in an over that yields five. This is the best he has played at this World Cup; and while that's not saying much, he looks really good. Some players seem to be stimulated rather than cowed by extreme pressure, the freaks, and Dhoni is certainly one of them. "This match has felt like a scaled down Test," says Gary Naylor. "No stupid reverse sweeps or Dilscoops and wicket-taking and innings-building has been the priority for both sides. So much better than slogfests and endless dibbly-dobbling." WRONG. Give me Larsen, Latham and Harris over Marshall, Garner and Holding any day.

34th over: India 175-3 (target 275; Gambhir 83, Dhoni 29) Randiv is on for Perera (7-0-43-0), who might not bowl again. Gambhir premeditates a lap for two in another good over for India. At this stage, they are cruising. "I'd heard all the reasons about why Sri Lanka dropped Mendis today but still didn't think it made sense and have seen nothing so far that makes it seem like a good decision," says Jim Clear. "Plus on a more selfish note I'm missing his "mystery" and the discussion thereof – Mendis is like the Scooby Doo of cricket." What he said.

35th over: India 183-3 (target 275; Gambhir 88, Dhoni 31) Sri Lanka are feeling a bit sorry for themselves. They should recognise the narrative of this run-chase: it's very similar to theirs in the 1996 final. Gambhir, in the Aravinda de Silva role, spanks a disdainful boundary over midwicket. India have paced this chase incredibly well, so much so that the required rate is still loitering at around a run a ball. They need 92 from 90. "I can't help but think that Sri Lanka have missed Matthews today," says Owen Thorpe. "Looked a batsman light in the first innings and at least one bowler light in the second. Perera might have hit a couple of blows, but his bowling is pretty rank." They have missed him badly. He a very good cricketer.

36th over: India 191-3 (need 84 from 84 balls; Gambhir 89, Dhoni 38) MS Dhoni has stones of, well, stone. He would have been savaged had he changed the batting order and then failed; instead he is playing like a man who has seen his own destiny, and he rocks back to cut Randiv emphatically for four. That takes him to his highest score of the tournament. Cometh the hour, cometh the modern man. His opposite number, Kumar Sangakkara, is having a tricky time though. He is waiting for a wicket rather than actively seeking it; it makes sense up to a point, but if Sri Lanka don't get that wicket in the next few overs this game will be over. "I feel sick," says Josh Nall, who really shouldn't have had the special. "I am stuck in Washington DC, and agreed weeks ago to go to a baseball game today, failing entirely to check the WC schedule before I agreed. Now I have to leave this game when it's perfectly poised with 100 balls left, so I can go watch big boys' rounders. Gutted." You could – and I admit this is a leftfield suggestion – tell all you friends you really, really hate them or that stupid big boys' rounders, and then stay in.

37th over: India 196-3 (need 79 from 78 balls; Gambhir 89, Dhoni 43) Now Sangakkara does turn to Malinga, his main strike bowler. "This is the game right here," says Nasser Hussain, but it might be too late. Dhoni takes a couple off each of the first two deliveries and then a single off the fifth. That's plenty for India.

38th over: India 204-3 (need 71 from 72 balls; Gambhir 90, Dhoni 50) Dhoni is struggling physically and has a bit of treatment between overs. It seems to be a back problem. Another man who is far from peak conditions, Muttiah Muralitharan, is coming back into the attack. Dhoni makes room to smash four more through extra cover to bring up a wonderful half-century, selfless and granite-willed. He looks and speaks like a nice, gentle soul, but he is tough as anyone in the game and he has shown that here. "Best bars in Mumbai to be if a) India win or b) if Sri Lanka win anyone?" asks Charles Phelps.

39th over: India 210-3 (need 65 from 66 balls; Gambhir 93, Dhoni 52) Gambhir breaks his bat while digging out a yorker from Malinga. He steers a single with the new bat, one of six runs from Malinga's seventh over. This match is all over, and India are going to win the World Cup for the first time since 1983. Here's what you get if you type 1983 into YouTube. Oh for a DeLorean. "On the Tendulkar Beethoven scale, the Sri Lanka bowling attack are varying from Bryan Adams to Rebecca Black," says Jonah Gadsby, before helpfully clarifying his point for those who aren't familiar with the oeuvre of Bryan Adams or Rebecca Black. "They're rubbish."

40th over: India 221-3 (need 54 from 60 balls; Gambhir 96, Dhoni 59) What a time this would be for Murali to summon one last beastly delivery that pitches leg and hits off. It doesn't look likely, in truth. The birth certificate says 38 but the body clock is nearer 45. A leg-side wide brings up a marvellous hundred partnership, and Dhoni hammers the next ball imperiously through extra cover for four. Murali finally switches to back over the wicket, but India are winning this at a canter. Eleven from the over, the last from a sloppy overthrow. Sri Lanka have gone mentally. "I'm at that big boys' rounders game in DC right now, following the OBO on my iPhone," says Clodilla. "Best of both worlds. Technology. Wonderful thing!"

41st over: India 223-3 (need 53 from 54 balls; Gambhir 97, Dhoni 60)
Randiv replaces a tired Murali and hurries through an over for just two. Sri Lanka need more than that my little hombre. "Do you not think that Jonah Gadsby talking about Western Classical music and getting three separate mentions in the OBO is a bit unfair since some of us (ahem) don't make it even once, although we respond to your requests for emails promptly," says Sam Ebenezer. "And don't even get me started on the blatant sycophants! Did I mention that I absolutely ADORE your blog??" Aw, you guys. But seriously, before we are overtaken with the small matter of India winning the World Cup, thanks for all your emails throughout the World Cup and indeed the whole wide winter. I'm sure Andy Bull and the other chaps would agree that, with particular reference to those ODIs in Australia, we couldn't have done it without youse.

WICKET! India 223-4 (Gambhir b Perera 97) That is a real shame for Gautam Gambhir, who misses out on a deserved century. He charged Perera and essayed a roundhouse smear but succeeded only in snicking the ball onto the stumps. No real need for that stroke, but he has played a gem of an innings – immaculately paced and full of immaculate placement. In a batting line up full of galacticos he is something of a Makelele figure; India, unlike Real Madrid, certainly appreciate his value.

42nd over: India 227-4 (need 48 from 48 balls; Dhoni 60, Yuvraj 4) Yuvraj Singh comes to the crease. Does he has tense, nervous headache? Is this music rattling round hisbrain? No. He blocks two deliveries and pulls the third contemptuously for four. India have 48 balls remaining, and if they get a run off each of them they will win the World Cup. "It's all very well and good making a stab at real journalism this late in the day, but can you stop with this cricket analysis and skip to the pressing question of who's had the lions share of commentary on Sky?" says Ben Dunn. "Their 341 commentators fitted into one day?" They have had all those with Indian and Sri Lanka connections (Russel Arnold, Sanjay Manjrekar, Tom Moody, Ravi Shastri, Sourav Ganguly), plus Nasser and Bumble. I think that's the lot.

43rd over: India 232-4 (need 43 from 42 balls; Dhoni 62, Yuvraj 5) Randiv continues – Murali and Malinga have five overs left between them, presumably the last five – and is pushed around for five runs. Teams have lost from this position in the past, but there is no sense that it could happen today. "Gambhir = Gatting?" says Gary Naylor. Nah, India are still in complete control.

44th over: India 240-4 (need 35 from 36 balls; Dhoni 69, Yuvraj 5) Perera's first ball is some of the most disgraceful filth you'll ever see, but it still needs punishing and Dhoni flashes a cut high over point for six! That's a cracking shot. Dhoni is really on one, and when he is almost run out off the next ball after a mix up – he would actually have been home even if the throw had hit – he smashes his bat into his pads in frustration. What a captain's innings this has been.

45th over: India 245-4 (need 30 from 30 balls; Dhoni 71, Yuvraj 9) Dhoni comes within a whisker of being run out. That was so close. Yuvraj took a dodgy single to short third man off Randiv, and a direct hit meant that Dhoni was in trouble. It was a split-frame affair, and after about 10 replays – and to the mother of all cheers – Dhoni was given not out. His speed between the wickets was vital. Two balls later now there's a review against Yuvraj! He played outside a good delivery from Randiv, prompting a huge shout for LBW, but the first replay showed a clear inside edge. Yuvraj survives, and it can only be seconds before somebody says that India's victory was meant to be.

46th over: India 248-4 (need 27 from 24 balls; Dhoni 71, Yuvraj 12) So now India take the batting Powerplay by default. There are five overs remaining: three for Malinga and two for Murali. If anyone can pull this one out, it's those two, but it would be a huge shock. Malinga starts magnificently, with four dot balls to Yuvraj, who then crunches the fifth through midwicket for two and the sixth down the ground for a single. Brilliant stuff from Malinga.

47th over: India 259-4 (need 16 from 18 balls; Dhoni 76, Yuvraj 18) This is a really surprising move, with Kulasekera preferred to Murali. Madness! A wet ball can be the only reason, but even so, I'd rather have Murali bowling with a soggy orange on a sheet of glass at this stage of a World Cup final. Especially as Kulasekera has just disappeared for xx. Dhoni hammers the second ball through extra cover for four, a wonderful stroke when the pressure was mounting just a touch. Dhoni then survives a token third-umpire referral after being sent back, and Yuvraj smears an attempted yorker on the full through midwicket for four. That was a terrible over from Kulasekera, and a matchwinning one for India. All the good work that Kulasekera and Perera did with the bat has been undone with the ball. "I've just been checking on the interweb, Rob, and from what I can find, it seems that ITV4 have confirmed that they will be showing this year's IPL live," says Clare Davies. "Starts next Friday, so those of us who need a lot of live cricket don't need to worry too much about withdrawal. Would be nice if you were to OBO but I guess that's just too much to ask for." Clare, my darling, there is more chance of me MBMing my own funeral than any cricket for the next six weeks. I love cricket dearly, I just don't want to see any of it for a long time.

47.1 overs India 260-4 (need 15 from 17 balls; Dhoni 76, Yuvraj 19) Yuvraj drives Malinga's first ball confidently for a single.

47.2 overs India 264-4 (need 11 from 16 balls; Dhoni 80, Yuvraj 19) "Dhoni! Dhoni! Dhoni!" rings round the ground, and he times Malinga off his pads for four. What a shot, and what an outrageous innings he has played tonight.

47.3 overs India 268-4 (need 7 from 15 balls; Dhoni 84, Yuvraj 19) TO say Dhoni has his business face on is an understatement. There is a furious intensity all over his phizog, and there's another boundary, flicked brilliantly through square leg.

47.4 overs India 268-4 (need 7 from 14 balls; Dhoni 84, Yuvraj 19) Malinga nutmegs Dhoni with a leg-side yorker.

47.5 overs India 269-4 (need 6 from 13 balls; Dhoni 85, Yuvraj 19) A quick single to point. India are one hit away. "He can't, can he? says Bumble.

48 overs India 270-4 (need 5 from 12 balls; Dhoni 85, Yuvraj 20) Yuvraj whips another single to long on. I hope Dhoni hits the winning runs. He deserves it for a captain's innings of stunning certainty.

48.1 overs India 271-4 (need 4 from 11 balls; Dhoni 85, Yuvraj 21) This is all about India, but spare a thought for Sri Lanka, who become the first side since England in 1992 to lose consecutive World Cup finals. Yuvraj pushes a single.

INDIA WIN THE WORLD CUP! 48.2 overs India 277-4 (Dhoni 91, Yuvraj 21)> INDIA WIN BY SIX WICKETS What a way to win a World Cup! Dhoni smashes Kulasekera into the crowd and now – for the first time – he breaks into a smile. He has played an awesome innings of chilling certainty, 91 not out from 79 balls, and he broke Sri Lanka's will long before the end. Mumbai has completely lost the plot. Half the team charge onto the field, the other half are going ballistic on the balcony. Firecrackers are going off anywhere, The hairs on the neck are powerless to resist these scenes.

Yuvraj and Tendulkar embrace, now Dhoni and Harbhajan. Yuvraj is on the cusp of tears, Harbhajan is in floods of tears, and now the team settle into an orgiastic huddle. They are top of the Test championship, and they have won the World Cup. Nobody can deny them this moment, which has had a whiff of destiny since the knockout stages started.

You have to feel for Sri Lanka – particularly Mahela Jayawardene, who made the most beautiful century, and of course for Murali, who has twirled his last. Sri Lanka tried their hardest, but [cheese] you can't fight fate [/cheese]. The camera is now focusing on the coach Gary Kirsten, who will finally get his hands on a World Cup. He has done a remarkable job with a group of players who some felt were unmanageable. Now Sachin is being chaired around the ground, his home ground, by Raina, Kohl and Pathan. He didn't get his 100th hundred, but this is an even greater fairytale: India winning the World Cup, in India.

Look, I could go on all night – it's not often I use that phrase – but I can't do justice to these scenes. Watch the highlights, soak it up, and raise a glass to a fantastic team – the best in the world in Tests and limited-overs cricket. Well done India, and thanks for your emails throughout a very enjoyable World Cup. Night.

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