Like most ODI's, especially at World Cup tournaments, its was a game of enthralling parts which eventually made the whole. Without doubt, the difference was again Tendulkar and his ability to best any bowling attack, especially when fieldsmen don't snaffle his rare mistakes. He is India and it was his rock solid foundation, laced with superb stroke play, which again gave India a decent total. Decent only. Pakistan could have, perhaps should have run it down. However, regardless of the Little Master's innings, the game was won in the first six overs when Virender Sehwag launched an assault on Pakistan's best bowler, Umar Gul. In three overs, Sehwag took 8 fours with great cricket shots past point, cover and from backward square to midwicket. Gul's 0-33 was doubled at the end of the innings by Raina but this short, ballistic attack from Sehwag was ended when Australian umpire Simon Taufel sent him on his way lbw to Riaz through judgement far better than the openers. The damage had been done.
Shahid Afrida was playing catch up for the rest of the innings and thanks to Riaz and his five wicket haul, was in a position to do what other sides have done at the World Cup and rattle through the tail. Life would have been easier had they held their catches. At 4-141 and then 5-185 when Tendulkar was finally out after being dropped four times, Riaz was all over the batsmen, but turning point number two again went to India as Dhoni and Harbhajan stayed with Suresh Raina before he guided the tail to a believable total. Afridi went wicketless but watched Misbah, Younis Khan and of course, Kamran Akmal, drop Tendulkar.
Pakistan's reply was one that never escaped from Indian pressure. Seven of the top eight made starts but only Misbah (56) and Hafeez (43) made decent scores. Hafeez may have made many more had he not played a shot that was as dumb as it was ugly. Umar Akmal looked the most dangerous in mid innings with two sixes in his 24 ball innings of 29, smashing Yuvraj Singh about before Harbhajan bowled straight at the sticks and Akmal went the wild flog. India had been conventional by the standards of play in the last month, opening with two left arm pace men and bowling the steady Patel at first change. Zaheer did his job, returning after some early stick to claim Kamran and Misbah with well disguised slower balls and Nehra ended the innings with great effect. In between, the relentless line and length of the bowling and the excellence in field clearly showed the difference between the two sides.
India and Sri Lanka, along with the South Africans, who returned home in choker chains, have been the most professional sides of the tournament and have deserved their place in the Final. Whether this leads to bright and attractive cricket is another matter, although with Sehwag as a cracker waiting for someone to light his fuse, anything is possible. One element of the final can be assured: Tendulkar won't be dropped four times.