India watched with hopeful eyes as MS Dhoni slammed a Nuwan Kulasekara full delivery high and over long-on to bring home the trophy. India had lifted the World Cup for the first time on home soil and halted an agonizing wait of 28 years. It was on this day, India beat Sri Lanka by six wickets and 10 balls to spare to win the 2011 cricket World Cup – the nation’s first since Kapil Dev and his side lifted the Prudential Cup at Lord’s in 1983. Dhoni, whose highest score in the tournament until the final was 34, played perhaps one of the finest captain’s innings to lead India to the elusive title. Today the country celebrates the 10th anniversary of that World Cup victory that transformed India into a global cricket powerhouse. IPL 2021: Virat Kohli Reaches Chennai to Join RCB Squad, to Be in Quarantine for Seven Days.
Dhoni's unbeaten 91 from 79 deliveries was orchestrated with eight boundaries and two maximums, one of which sealed India’s fate and Sri Lanka’s too, who were left with the grief of two consecutive World Cup final defeats. Yet there were questions raised when Dhoni walked out at the fall of Virat Kohli’s wicket in the 22nd over. Yuvraj Singh batted at four for India throughout the tournament and one would have expected the team to follow the same template but Dhoni wanted to stop Muttiah Muralitharan from attacking the left-hander. And so he walked out after Kohli and Gautam Gambhir had resurrected India’s innings with an 83-run partnership. IPL 2021: Lionel Messi to Be ‘Picked’ by Rajasthan Royals Next Season? Kumar Sangakkara Answers Fan’s Query (Watch Video).
Dhoni and Gambhir stuck 109 runs together to take India closer to home before the latter sent the country into ecstasy with a six over long-on in the 49th over. Gambhir had missed out on a hundred in the World Cup final by just three runs. Having taken India to a commanding position after walking out in the second ball of the innings with Virender Sehwag back without adding a run, Gambhir was edging closer to his moment of glory – a World Cup final century. But lost his stumps after dancing down the track and trying to slash Thisara Perera out of the park when run-a-ball would and should have been enough.
But Dhoni stayed on and shared another 54-run unbeaten stand with Yuvraj (21) to take India home. Gambhir’s innings of 97 was studded with nine boundaries. Dhoni hit the winning runs but it was Gambhir, who laid the founding stone for the record win. Asked to chase down 275 for the trophy, Lasith Malinga handed India a double blow in the opening seven overs. He removed Sehwag with his second ball and then had Sachin Tendulkar caught by Kumar Sangakkara for 18. As Sachin walked back, the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai watched in hopelessness. Their dream of watching the man lift a World Cup title in his hometown were up in smokes.
But as Tendulkar returned back, out walked Virat Kohli – the star of the new generation. His generation knows no defeats. World Cup glory was still a long shot but together, Kohli and Gambhir reworked the chase ball by ball, run by run. When Kohli was out to a spectacular catch by Tillakaratne Dilshan off his own bowling, India had moved from 31/2 to 114. Dhoni and Gambhir did the rest. They completed half-centuries, saw off Malinga and took on Perera to steer the chase.
Neither managed to reach three figures. But the man who did was at the losing end. Mahela Jayawardene played a wonderful knock of 103 to set up the innings for Sri Lanka with Kulasekara and Perera adding the final flourish to help the side post a winnable target. Perera scored 22 off nine balls. He smashed Zaheer Khan, who had shackled Sri Lanka with the new ball, around to give his side a great finish. But India had the greater end to the final.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Apr 02, 2021 12:01 AM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).