Melbourne: The Australian media on Monday hailed India the worthy world champions and praised captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni for leading from the front in the World Cup summit showdown against Sri Lanka.
The newspapers here said Dhoni's leadership qualities and his performance in the final match in Mumbai stole the limelight from iconic batsman Sachin Tendulkar who was playing in his sixth World Cup.
With headline 'India defies history to win its first World Cup in 28 years', 'The Australian' said though it was not a fairytale finish but nonetheless India were the deserved world champions.
"It was about two great South Asian teams giving fans a thrilling, edge-of-the-seat one day final and a deserved triumph for a cricketing nation which felt its time had come. It wasn't a fairytale finish but for Mumbai and a nation still licking its wounds, it was more than enough," the newspaper said.
It said the current Indian team showed that it was no longer solely dependent on Tendulkar to win matches. "Tendulkar might have been the name on everyone's lips but if ever there was a sign that the Indian team has moved beyond its one-man juggernaut, Saturday night's gritty victory was it."
"The team showed determination and discipline that surprised even the most nationalist fans to snatch a victory every man in the team then dedicated to their diminutive teammate playing in his sixth and final World Cup," it said.
"The win bore little resemblance to the fairytale finish the Mumbai crowd had been hoping for; one in which Sachin Tendulkar saw out his final World Cup by hitting his hundredth century before his home town crowd."
The newspaper described Dhoni as an "all-conquering captain" who has now rivalled Tendulkar in popularity. "The 29-year-old is already cricket's top earner after signing a record two-year, USD 42 million contract last year to endorse whatever product comes his way, and after Saturday night's remarkable home-ground win against Sri Lanka, his marketability knows no bounds."
"With neither the Brahminical poise of hero-worshipped Sachin Tendulkar, the joviality of Shahid Afridi, or the worldly eloquence of Kumar Sangakkara, Dhoni is nonetheless the face of a new, harder-edged Indian team."
"It was Dhoni's innings of 91 not out, and his final game-winning six, that made him the man of the match and sent a 33,000-capacity crowd at the Wankhede Stadium into a frenzy," the newspaper said.
Writing for 'Sydney Morning Herald', veteran cricket writer Peter Roebuck praised Dhoni for his bold leadership. "The day belonged to Dhoni. Like Jayawardene, his form had been scratchy but he was able to put that behind him. Indeed he dared to push himself up the order," Roebuck wrote under headline 'Bold captain Dhoni India's hero of the day'.
"In the critical hour and despite modest returns, Dhoni dared to back himself. That is leading from the front. Even in the toughest times, too, he managed to convey composure. Throughout, his players felt their captain remained on the bridge and the situation was under control."
"Exuberant celebrations began the moment Dhoni clouted a drive into the stands. It was a fitting end to an unexpectedly successful and mostly clean tournament. Appropriately, the final was a superb contest full of twists and turns and dominated not by power but by skill and temperament."
"No home side had won a World Cup before but India did not blink. Overall it was a happy and entertaining occasion... It was a fine World Cup, the best for 25 years."