As a cricket fan, you tend to remember the dates of special matches, especially the ones that happen to be world cup finals. There’s of course, 24th September, 2007 and not to forget, 25th June, 1983. But for the current generation of fans, 2nd April, 2011 holds a special place in our hearts, including mine. While today marks exactly nine years of that special moment, who can forget these words by Ravi Shastri during commentary: “Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!“
Going Down Memory Lane
Okay, I am getting ahead of myself now.
Since we’re in quarantine and stuff, I thought of reliving that special day by writing about how 2nd April, 2011 panned out. So here it goes!
And The Game Begins
Excitement knew no bounds on the morning of 2nd April, 2011. I was excited like every other Indian fan and couldn’t wait for 2:30 PM IST. The toss was done and Sri Lanka had won it amidst some confusion. I was disappointed because Sri Lanka had opted to bat first (and in a final, you always want to bat first). Anyway, although the toss did not go as planned, the bowling led by Zaheer Khan and Sreesanth started off nicely. Runs weren’t coming at a good pace for Sri Lanka, and in the 7th over, lost Upul Tharanga. Dilshan was joined by Sangakkara. They both played calmly and took the score beyond the 50-run mark before Dilshan perished.
In walked Jayawardena at four, and both the Sri Lankan stalwarts stitched together a fine partnership in excess of 50 runs. The partnership needed to be broken and not surprisingly Yuvraj Singh provided the breakthrough by getting Sangakkara caught behind. Samaraweera came to the crease and added 57 valuable runs with Jayawardena before being sent packing by none other than Yuvraj Singh. Clearly, he has India’s best bowler on that day.
Sri Lanka’s Final Flourish
Kapugedera perished quickly and Sri Lanka found themselves in a spot of bother at 5 for 182 at the end of 40 overs. Jayawardena was still going strong and needed someone to stick around. Kulasekara, who was promoted ahead of the power hitter Thissara Perera, did exactly that. He provided able support as Jayawardena went in search of some quick runs. He was successful in doing so and reached a fine hundred in the process. Kulasekara perished in the last ball of the 48th over with the score reading 6 for 248. Perera finally walked in and straightaway thwarted the Indian bowlers. His 9-ball 22 runs gave Sri Lanka a competitive 274 runs on the board.
Mid Innings Thoughts
At the end of the Sri Lankan innings, I was a bit disappointed because India leaked 92 runs in the last 10 overs. Considering Sri Lanka’s position at the end of 40 overs, it felt as though India leaked 25 to 30 runs extra. But anyway, 275 was the target and India desperately needed a solid start by Sachin and Sehwag.
India’s Tricky Chase Gets Underway
The chase got underway with Sehwag taking guard and Malinga ready to deliver toe-crushing yorkers. Ball two, and Sehwag was struck on the pad. Dead straight. A vociferous appeal by the Lankans and Aleem Dar raised the dreaded finger. Sehwag was a goner, and he knew it. Pin drop silence in the crowd. Gambhir walked in at three. He and Sachin needed a partnership but that wasn’t to be. First ball of the 7th over and Sachin nicked behind. There was utter silence. The World Cup seemed to be slipping away as Virat Kohli made his way in, to sheer silence.
2 for 31 in the 7th over was a horrible start, but Gambhir and Kohli knew the game was not over yet. They played their shots and rotated the strike well. Things were nicely falling into place as India crossed the 100-run mark. When all seemed to be under control, Dilshan pulled a rabbit out of the hat. Off his own bowling, he plucked out a one handed stunner to dismiss Kohli for 35. India were dented a massive blow as the score read 3 for 114.
A Sheer Masterstroke
Now, at this point in time, Yuvraj Singh (the man in form) should have walked in at 5. But to everyone’s surprise, it was the skipper who entered the field. He hadn’t batted much during the entire tournament, and this moment in the game raised eyebrows. Many were stunned to not see Yuvi come out to bat. But little did anyone know that the calm and cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni was about to play an innings to remember and cherish.
MSD and Gambhir kept the scoreboard ticking. The more they batted, the more Sri Lanka got worried. And we fans, enjoyed every boundary these two hit. Runs were flowing, and fans regained their voices. As the runs got closer, the fans in the stadiums and all houses in India got louder. Amidst all this, Gambhir who was looking set to score a World Cup hundred in a final, perished for 97 in what looked like a tired shot. The score was 4 for 223, with just 52 runs to go. Yuvi finally walked out and joined his skipper, who was looking in sublime touch.
That Winning Moment
The fours and sixes continued, especially from Dhoni’s bat. When India were within touching distance (4 runs required from 11 balls) from winning the World Cup, we all know what the skipper did.
This moment will forever remain etched in our memories. That shot. WOW! But it was not only about that single shot, and we all know that.
Thank you so much for reading. (: