“Dhoni… finishes off in style! A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lifts the World Cup once again after 28 years…the parties start in the dressing room and it’s an Indian Captain who has been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final.” Commentator turned Coach Ravi Shastri’s words have become synonymous with the sight of Captain Cool’s helicopter shot & the aftermath. It seems just like yesterday, although on this day exactly 9 years ago the men in blue created history. Today we look back at the glorious night that will forever remain etched in the memories of those who witnessed it.
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.
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 realizing 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.
Chasing a total of 275 at Wankhede in Mumbai, the Indian team lost its heroes pretty soon in the second innings. Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing his last World Cup game and explosive opener Virender Sehwag – both were dismissed, putting India in a tense position. Gautam Gambhir then had a short partnership with then young Virat Kohli before the latter was dismissed by Dilshan while he was at 35. It was then skipped MS Dhoni, who took the onus of taking his team over the line in the final game. Throughout the Cricket World Cup, MS Dhoni had played decent knocks but nothing could be as memorable as the innings he played in the 2011 Cricket World Cup Final. MS Dhoni stitched a century-long stand with Gautam Gambhir to steady the Indian innings. Dhoni played a wonderful inning of 91 runs while Gambhir scored 97. Gambhir’s stump was uprooted as he was three runs away from his century. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh then continued to bat as India got closer to victory. The victory was in sight during the 49th over when India just needed 4 off 11 balls. This was the moment when MS Dhoni gave India a moment that remains etched in the minds of a billion fans. Dhoni lofted Nuwan Kulasekara’s second delivery straight into the stands and fireworks erupted as Indians roared. The team shed tears – of pain and of joy – as they finally got their hands on the trophy that had eluded some of them in 2003.
As soon as Dhoni hit the winning six, Yuvraj stood spellbound at the other end, while his captain closed in on the stumps to keep them as a souvenir. After all, this is the stuff dreams are made of. But on April 2, 2011, those dreams came true. Former players have today come out on social media and relived those memories. Yuvraj Singh said, “Words will never be able to describe what a moment for every Indian it was, this is what we live for !! Jai Hind”. While Raina tweeted, “Things end but memories last forever. Remembering the rush, excitement, thrill of it all, of the fantastic moments leading up to us lifting the world cup. Irreplaceable. Unforgettable. Thankful to have been a part of this iconic moment in the history of cricket”.
Where did you witness the match & with whom? Tell us if you have any special memories associated with the night in the comments section.