ICC World Cup 2011:Finals: India Vs Sri Lanka, April 2, 2011,Wankhede, Mumbai, India
“A nation which is governed by the planet Saturn was bound to witness the glory, accomplishment and then ecstasy after a period of 28 years of rigorous hardships and heart breaks. As per Hindu astrology it’s said that, the planet Saturn takes almost 30 years to complete one revolution around SUN, so was Team India which also took almost 30 years to complete full circle around the WORLD CUP to achieve the ultimate prize of Cricket for the second time in the history since 1983.”
It was a fitting justice for the Indian team to start its campaign on Saturday (Feb 19, 2011) only to flourish and then to get showered with all accolades on Saturday (April 2, 2011) again after going through rigorous hardships.
Every time India set out for a World Cup campaign; it either reached to the next level of the event or crashed out in the early stage itself. It happened since 1992 and the journey with ups (1996, 2003) and downs (1992, 1999, and 2007) testified the patience, Perseverance and passion of Team India and finally the destination was conquered in 2011. But one man was with the team in all the SIX editions, he saw and experienced all those five heartbreaks but when he finally got his hands on the World Cup, he and the remaining Indians just couldn’t hold those tears.
India started off 2011 World Cup campaign as favorites and in the process few things tested this team and the team overcame in everything to achieve the glory. There were many blunders involved during the composition of performances be it with batting,bowling or the fielding for which Team India was heavily criticised at the group stage and infact this criticism also acted as a positive motivation for the team to excel in the knock out stage and then achieve their dream.
Beholding the Grudges:
India was coming into this tournament with a bag full of grudges which it was meted out with heartbreaking results in previous world cups to date since World Cup 1996( As it was from this event, India started to make progress to the next levels). The three teams which hindered the India’s chances in achieving its dream for the second time in World Cup history were Sri Lanka (1996 – Semi Final match, 2007- Group Stage match), Australia (2003 – Final match), Bangladesh (2007 – Group stage match) and then India, continued its winning streak against Pakistan, and won for the fifth time in all the World Cup editions since 1992, in a high profile Semi Final.
India printed its first statement against Bangladesh through Sehwag’s bat in the opening match of World Cup 2011. Viru’s knock of 175 and his comment (“we lost against them and we have been waiting for the moment when we will play against them in this World Cup”.) healed the humiliating defeat of 2007 World Cup which in turn set the tone for the rest of the tournament.
Australia was coming into this match (Quarter Final) with three consecutive World Cup victories and a domination of 11 years and 11 months. The last time India met Australia in a knock stage was during World Cup 2003 final. Australia once again won the toss and scored 260 runs with the help of Ricky Ponting’s last knock of 104 runs as a captain. India was asked to chase down the target. India, inspite winning the matches at group stage (except matches against England which ended in a tie and a loss against South Africa) still looked vulnerable, uncomfortable to conduct itself in the knock out stage but it’s the self confidence and the hunger to progress to the next levels helped India to win the Quarter Final against Australia. The chase was lead by Sachin, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Raina. Yuvi’ all round performance was a standout show in this match and also throughout the tournament. Raina who was playing his only second match in his World Cup career, showed all more maturity and positive intent during his batting while chasing a target of 261 along with Yuvraj. Yuvraj’s scorching drive through the covers and then letting out victory cry was all there to see and feel healed of 2003 heartbreak.
In 1996 World Cup, India met Sri Lanka twice – First in the group stage and then in the Semi Finals in Kolkatta. India was on the losing side on both the occasions and its humiliating defeat in the Semi Finals was still afresh in the hearts of those people who watched the semi final on that fateful day untill India once again met in the knock out match in Mumbai this year(2011). The next time Sri Lanka defeated India was in the World Cup 2007 and with this win, Sri Lanka packed the bags of the Indian team in the early stage of the event. What could have been a better stage for the Indian team to avenge its humiliation than the World Cup Final? Both the teams lived up to the expectations in this final encounter but one team was determined to win this match and India won this Grudge match by 6 wickets to lift the cup for the second time in the history. Gambhir’s 97 and Dhoni’s knock of 91* helped India to clinch the final match. Dhoni played captain’s knock when it mattered. The courage and the confidence were all stamped after he promoted himself up the order to play once in a life time innings in the World Cup Finals for a winning cause. India avenged the losses of 1996 and 2007.
The genius of players comes into display when it matters the most. If the stage is called World Cup, the history written during this event will be etched in the memories of people for years to come or can also go beyond the time line as well…
Untill the knock out stage, India was winning the games but through patchy efforts but when they arrived for the knock out stage, the look and the feel of their conduct had worn a different facet altogether.
Quarter Finals: The best platform was set for two new found rivals to showdown each other, a platform for one team to emerge out as victorious and advance to the next levels of this dream World Cup. India avenged the humiliation of WC Final, 2003.
Suresh Raina and R Ashwin didn’t feature in the playing Eleven untill the last tie against West Indies in the group stage. Their induction came after India’s think tank got heavily criticised by the people and media. Both the players played vital roles and justified their selection. The way R Ashwin contained the Australian batsmen and then picking the two vital wickets of Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting made difference in putting the lid on their scoring.
India was chasing a target of 261 underlights – The masters who played masterstrokes in scripting this greatest victory over Australia were Sachin’s brilliant 53, Gambhir’s composed 50, Yuvraj’s victorious 57* and Raina’s anchoring 34* gave a seat edge victory for the Indian team.
Semi Finals: What’s World Cup without a tie between India and Pakistan? Semi Final match is always considered as the most important match in any sports than the Finals.
This match was scripted for the heavenly moment to be enjoyed by over billion people of India also across the World. Instead of R Ashwin, Dhoni went into this game with Ashish Nehra – The first master stroke. India went with pacers because of the nature of Mohali pitch but pitch assisted more to the spinners and it was evident when Pakistan bowled first.
Sehwag’s quick thrashing of 38 runs in 25 balls of Gul’s bowling not only removed Gul – The successful bowler out of attack but also derailed the entire Pakistan plans. During the third over, Sehwag was batting on 5 of 7 balls and after Gul’s over he was riding on 25 runs in 14 balls.This massacre by Sehwag was the second master stroke of the match.
India lost few quick wickets but Sachin’s anchoring 85 helped India to be in the hunt and then Suresh Raina’s calculated knock of 36 in 39 balls helped India to put a winning target of 260 runs on the board. His vital runs helped India to register the greatest victory against Pakistan in Semi Finals by almost the same amount of runs.
Ashish Nehra, who was criticised heavily after his last over loss against South Africa, bowled in this Semi Final with lot more confidence and remained the most economical bowler for India and picked two vital wickets. Harbhajan Singh, who too was under heavy criticism, inspite he being the main bowler yet he was failing to pick the wickets in this World Cup, though his tight line bowling couldn’t fetch more wickets for him just contained the batsmen but also helped Yuvi to get those wickets from the other end and this was the match which was set for him to make a strong statement. Bhajji changing his bowling side(Round the wicket) and bowling arm ball which almost looked like his typical Doosra to clip the bells of Umar Akmal was the third master stroke of the match and then removing Shahid Afridi to bring his team back into the game. India later won this high voltage semi final match by 29 runs.
Finals: A dream stage for two legends of cricket was set in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. Of these two legends, one was destined to see the bitter ending of this event.
Muralitharan, the legend who conquered the World at his will was ill fated on this very day. Murali could neither see his team lifting the cup nor could pick a wicket in his last hurrah. His last wicket on the last ball which he bowled on his home soil also happened to be the last wicket of his career as well.Someone up there really writes such scripts…
India started off this campaign as favorites and entered into the finals as favorites again. Dhoni once again surprised everyone by picking Sreeshanth over Ashwin in this career threatening tie. A move only he could have faced the wrath had the result gone the other way. Sreeshanth couldn’t justify his selection and became the most expensive bowler in the Indian bowling department. India after losing 2 quick wickets of Sehwag (0) and Sachin (18) stood tensed with 240 odd runs away from the glory.
Viral Kohli’s 35, Gautam Gambhir’s 3 short of World Cup final TON and on the other hand Dhoni on this day, was prepared to take as many risks as he can to get that elusive happiness for India, scored captain’s 91*. But the common Indian was caught between agony and the ecstasy during this Indian innings.
The two vital partnerships between Gambhir-Kohli and Gambhir-Dhoni laid the foundation for India to chase down Sri Lanka’s challenge. Gambhir’s brilliant innings of 97 gave impression for the second time that he belongs to the league of big match players. Virat’s staunch 35 helped India to overcome the disaster struck early in the innings. The partnership of 83 runs between two delhites brought back that confidence in the billion hearts and the partnership of 109 runs between Gambhir and Dhoni confirmed those billion hearts to witness the history for the second time. Kohli’s 35, Gambhir’s 97 and Dhoni’s 91* were the masterstrokes in the World Cup final 2011.
But few things which stood out in these three knock out matches were self belief, confidence and brilliant fielding which raised the Indian team for the final flourish.
Dhoni – The Leader:
While leaving the field after Sri Lanka’s innings, the tensed look on Dhoni’s face was all showing and maybe it was for the first time we saw this on his face and also during the initial period of his batting, the tension was still visible.
Dhoni’s decision of including Sreeshanth in the final match and Sree’s poor show back fired Dhoni’s confidence and then later Dhoni promoting himself up the order (it was a pure logical reason, Dhoni just wanted a left-right combination in the middle) ahead of in form Yuvraj Singh which made people to raise the eye brows for the second time in this longest day of the anticipated year, the World Cup 2011 year.
A leader is he who never shies away from the decisions taken to lead his brigade from the front, who always stick to his belief irrespective of the outcome and if gone wrong ready to admit the mistakes and ready to face the consequences. Few decisions went wrong, few mistakes were committed by him throughout the tournament and he was once again answerable (post match) for two more decisions which he took on this BIGGEST DAY of his life. Dhoni’s leadership was indeed put for a TEST.
Dhoni’s one of the greatest captain’s innings of 91*( including 8 boundaries and 2 sixes which also happened to be the only two sixes hit by an Indian batsman during the India’s chase) of all times in the World Cup history helped India to clinch the cup after 28 years of Drought, Dullness, Dejection and Depression.
Dhoni signed off this greatest TEST of his life which he was put into from the start of the event to the finish with that majestic SIX which went sailing over the long on, which in turn triggered and left his nation in great emotions, for the first time INDIA dropped the tears for the RIGHTEOUSNESS since 1992…
“In the year 1992, when heavenly God sat to write a futuristic script for a World Cup 2011 triumph, Sachin was playing his first World Cup. The genius of Sachin was well known to God but he made him to wait, made him to see through that journey which had triumphs yet heartbreaking results. Every time, he shed a tear with each World Cup disaster, he looked up to the heavens – Even heavenly God also moved a bit but he remain unfazed and composed while scripting the moment of 2011.”
During then, neither Sachin nor anyone knew that his last hurrah(World Cup) would be set on his own home soil. With every World Cup since 1992, Sachin was either pushed forward or dragged behind but the determination to kiss the cup, the World Cup was visible every time he set out for the World Cup journey. When the moment was achieved, the whole India felt the same yearning of 21 years what Sachin felt for India. India along with Sachin dropped those joyous tears and looked up to the heavenly God after the accomplishment – The Perseverance finally paid off !!!
(We at CricAges, congratulate Team India for living up to the expectations of billion hearts and lifting the World Cup 2011. Let the divine force keep showering on you India).