Sachin Tendulkar has rated his risk-free 138 against Sri Lanka in the final of the Compaq Cup as one of his best innings. His 44th one-day hundred propelled India to 319, which proved 46 runs too many for Sri Lanka.
"This is one of my best innings. I will rate this up considering the conditions and the ground, the humidity," Tendulkar said. His superbly paced innings fetched him his 59th Man-of-the-Match award besides helping him to yet another Man-of-the-Series award. It capped a successful return for Tendulkar, who had to miss the one-day series against West Indies earlier this year due to a finger injury.
Tendulkar said India's success was due to the current team having more match-winners than before. "I think in this lot we have got match-winners and more big hitters as such and you know the guys have delivered at the crunch moment. It could be with bat or ball. But they have been delivering pretty consistently and you know they are all talented guys. You need match-winners to win consistently. That is what this team is about."
Tendulkar said this team was among the top ones he had played for since debuting in 1989. "There have been so many great names. I would not want to run anyone down by making comparisons about teams. I would like to respect the fact that I was fortunate to be part of various generations. This is definitely one of the top teams I have been part of. We have always tried to win but we have been able to produce results in the last couple of years or so. We have been able to perform pretty consistently. There are going to be upsets in between but if you look at the larger picture, we have had better days."
India's victory was only their fourth in ODI finals in 21 attempts since 2000, and their first trophy in Sri Lanka since 1998. MS Dhoni played his part in setting up the win with a brisk 56 after promoting himself to No. 3. "The victory is special," Dhoni said, "It feels great to win a trophy in Sri Lanka after such a long time. Being the second-placed team in world rankings we have to keep performing well to sustain the quality."
Despite the big total, India had to endure some anxious moments as Sri Lanka's batsmen battled hard till the end (Tendulkar said he had "no nails left" after the match see-sawed its way to the finish). The home side were helped by some tardy Indian fielding; two catches were grassed and several run-out chances were missed. The fast bowlers were also off the boil early on, wilting in the face of an onslaught from the Sri Lankan openers. "We have got to learn from our mistakes," Dhoni said. "We did lack a bit in the fielding and bowling departments and both are very crucial. Thankfully, we ended on the winning side today."
Dhoni dedicated the win to the former BCCI president, Raj Singh Dungarpur, who died on Saturday. "He was the manager during our tour to Pakistan [in 2005-06]. He was a great man. We dedicate the victory to him."
India's next assignment is the Champions Trophy, which kicks off on September 22 in South Africa.