Agartala, Apr 02, 2020, Google News
Dhoni finishes off in style! A magnificent strike into the crowd. India lift the World Cup after 28 years!" Player-turned-commentator-turned-headcoach Ravi Shastri has left an indelible print onto the minds of Indian cricket fans with his finishing touches during the 2011 World Cup final when MS Dhoni hit the winning six to win the trophy for his side.
Shastri's high-pitched words will continue to ring in the ears of Indians for times to come. It was Shastri's "Remember the name" moment and we are all thankful for it. After all, April 2, 2011 is a hallowed day in Indian cricket and Shastri's commentary that day remains as closely associated with the memories as the actual action - be it Dhoni's six or Lasith Malinga's opening burst.
28 years. That's how long it took for India to win their 2nd ICC World Cup trophy after threatening to cross the finish line on a number of previous occasions - only to falter at a crucial juncture of the tournament.
A whole generation of cricketers had arrived, played and hung their boots in that amount of time. However, when it arrived, a billion hearts ebbed and flowed in unison with the thousands who thronged the streets across the country, including the ones who were witnessing it at the Wankhede, especially the players themselves.
The celebrations would go long into the night and pour over the following few days allowing Indian fans a rare 4-year-period of bragging rights. It was a joyous day indeed. But also quite a nervous one - especially for billions of Indians across the world.
The match didn't start on a great note for India as Dhoni lost the toss and his opposite number Kumar Sangakkara had no hesitation in opting to bat first. But fast bowler Zaheer Khan soon lifted Indian spirits by getting rid of Upul Tharanga in the 7th over. When Harbhajan Singh removed the dangerous TM Dilshan 10 overs later, India still had the match in their grips with Sri Lanka having just touched 60. Sangakkara then forged a solid 62-run stand for the 3rd wicket with another legend Mahela Jayawardene.
While India managed to keep the rest of Lankan batsmen in check, Jayawardene chose the occasion to leave his own legacy on the World Cup. Starting slowly, Mahela ended up scoring a scintillating 103* off just 88 balls as India were set a stiff 275 to win the match under lights.
The 40,000+ strong crowd at the Wankhede roared in anticipation for their most famous son - Sachin Tendulkar. After all, it was Sachin's long-held dream to win the World Cup (it was his 6th attempt), and now he was just a few hours away from realising it. But Sachin had been there before - in 2003. Things didn't go well on that occasion. And Sri Lanka's opening bowler Lasith Malinga made sure it didn't start well this time around either.
With just the 2nd ball of the Indian chase, Malinga trapped Virender Sehwag plumb in front before getting the big wicket of Tendulkar in his 4th over to reduce the hosts to 31/2. Sri Lanka were on top and India were under extreme pressure. In walked Virat Kohli - then a 22-year-old trying to cement his place in the side. But this was not a stage to think about oneself. The margin of error was minimal and if you got out playing a bad shot, the criticism that would follow, would be quite brutal. After all, it was a World Cup final. But Kohli was ready and so were India.
Kohli and his senior Gautam Gambhir started consolidating by rotating the strike while punishing the odd bad ball for boundaries. They put on 83 runs for the 3rd wicket when Kohli lobbed a return catch to Dilshan after scoring 35 crucial runs. This was a turning point in the game. Instead of India's usual No.4 Yuvraj Singh, in walked Dhoni himself, who by the way had a torrid time with the bat so far in the World Cup.
Unfazed Dhoni does the job for India on the big night
And as if in a single moment, Dhoni decided that he is not going to let this slip away. Soaking up all the pressure initially, Dhoni let Gambhir to play freely while chipping in with the odd boundary here and there. Bit by bit, run by run, over by over, the duo brought the deficit down to below 100.
Just when it looked like India might canter to a win, Gambhir advanced to a good length delivery from Thisara Perera ending up losing his off-stump. He was out for 97 but it was a valiant innings and one of the best in World Cup history. Dhoni, at the non-striker's end was unfazed.
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