|India will aim to win their first World Cup since 1983 when they play Sri Lanka on April 2 [Reuters]
India ensured they will play the World Cup final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai as a shaky Pakistan batting display gave the co-hosts a 29-run win in Mohali.
Sachin Tendulkar hit 85 as India opted to bat first but their total of 260-9 looked chaseable as Pakistan began their reply strongly.
But all five India bowlers weighed in with two wickets each to complete an emotional victory against their great rivals and set up an April 2 final against Sri Lanka.
Misbah-ul-Haq staged a late charge for Pakistan but, needing five sixes off the last over, he was caught by Virat Kholi with one ball remaining and the game already lost.
"This was like a final, whenever India and Pakistan play the pressure is double," said Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh, who like all his fellow bowlers took two wickets.
"We bowled really well, we fielded really well and we deserved the win.
"I'm really excited to be going to Mumbai to play the final in front of my second home crowd, seeing as I play for the Mumbai Indians (in the Indian Premier League)."
Pakistan's inspirational World Cup captain Shahid Afridi scored 19 as he tried to inspire his team but fell for 19, leaving it to Test skipper Misbah to perform a late charge with 56 runs.
V Sehwag lbw b Wahab 38
S Tendulkar c Afridi b Ajmal 85
G Gambhir st Kamran b Hafeez 27
V Kohli c Umar b Wahab 9
Yuvraj Singh b Wahab 0
MS Dhoni lbw b Wahab 25
S Raina not out 36
Harbhajan Singh st Kamran b Ajmal 12
Z Khan c Kamran b Wahab 9
A Nehra run out 1
M Patel not out 0
Total: (for 9; 50 overs) 260
Fow: 1-48 2-116 3-141 4-141 5-187 6-205 7-236
Bowling: Umar Gul 8-0-69-0, Abdul Razzaq 2-0-14-0, Wahab Riaz 10-0-46-5, Saeed Ajmal 10-0-44-2, Shahid Afridi 10-0-45-0, Mohammad Hafeez 10-0-34-1
Kamran Akmal c Yuvraj Singh b Khan 19
Mohammad Hafeez c Dhoni b Patel 43
Asad Shafiq b Yuvraj Singh 30
Younus Khan c Raina b Yuvraj Singh 13
Misbah-ul-Haq c Kohli b Khan 56
Umar Akmal b Harbhajan Singh 29
Abdul Razzaq b Patel 3
Shahid Afridi c Sehwag b Harbhajan Singh 19
Wahab Riaz c Tendulkar b Nehra 8
Umar Gul lbw b Nehra 2
Saeed Ajmal not out 1
Total: (all out; 49.5 overs) 231
Fow: 1-44 2-70 3-103 4-106 5-142 6-150 7-184 8-199 9-208
Bowling: Khan 9.5-0-58-2, Nehra 10-0-33-2, Patel 10-1-40-2, Harbhajan Singh 10-0-43-2, Yuvraj Singh 10-1-57-2
"I want to say sorry to my nation," said Afridi.
"We did our level best, but I hope everyone enjoyed it."
India, the 1983 champions, bowled out their neighbours for 231 in 49.5 overs to spark jubilant celebrations at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Opting to bat first, India got off to a rollicking start and Tendulkar got a series of let-offs as he fell 15 short of his 100th one-day century.
Wahab Riaz's 5-46 haul restricted the co-hosts to a rather modest total, despite Umar Gul being hit for 69 runs off his eight overs.
Pakistan got off to a decent start too but losing wickets at regular intervals denied them any significant partnerships and batsmen such as Mohammad Hafeez (43) and Asad Shafiq (30) were guilty of throwing away their wickets at the most inopportune time.
Misbah's half-century offered late resistance but the moment he heaved the ball high into the air, only to see it fall into Kohli's hands, a deafening roar shook the 28,000-seater stadium and homes across India.
Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was attending the match with his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani, was seen applauding the men in blue while Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi punched the air in delight after watching the closing stages of the match in the midst of the crowd.
In India's innings, playing in his sixth Cricket World Cup, Tendulkar had an lbw decision overturned on appeal, was dropped by Misbah, Younus Khan and Umar Akmal, and narrowly avoided being stumped by Kamran Akmal.
Afridi, also the hapless bowler on three of those four occasions, could only hold his head in dismay as his teammates squandered opportunity after opportunity to cut short Tendulkar's 115-ball stay.
On a belter of a wicket, India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had little hesitation in opting to bat first and he must have felt vindicated when Virender Sehwag (38) tore into the Pakistani attack.
The right-hander smashed five fours to milk 21 runs off Gul's second over, thus blunting Pakistan's pace spearhead but India could not make the most of the flying start.
Wahab trapped the opener leg before for 38 in the sixth over to end the 48-run opening stand and soon the boundary flow dried up.
The 68-run second wicket partnership between Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir (27) consolidated India's position but it was not without toil.
Hafeez ended the blossoming partnership by removing Gambhir and Riaz returned to claim Kohli (9) and the in-form Yuvraj Singh with successive deliveries to reduce the co-hosts, cruising merrily at 116-1 at one stage, to 141-4.
Suresh Raina's (36 not out) middle order cameo took India past the 250-mark.
India could have been in a bigger hole but Misbah dropped Tendulkar at mid-wicket, Younus grassed one at cover and Umar Akmal showed the same sloppiness, spilling one at mid-wicket.
Earlier in his innings, Tendulkar used a review to successfully overturn an lbw decision that had gone against him.
Just when it seemed nothing can stop the 37-year-old prolific run getter from scoring his 100th international century, Afridi caught the Indian off Saeed Ajmal's bowling, keeping his pre-match promise to deny Tendulkar the milestone.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies