It is the 10th anniversary of India’s famous World Cup win. India won the 50-over ICC World Cup on 2nd April 2011. The Indian team became the first country to win a World Cup as a host nation. Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led India to a monumental World Cup win. A win that is etched in memories of fellow Indians. A win so special that it can never be forgotten.
Were India expected to win?
India were the absolute favourites to emerge champions even before the World Cup began. The main reason behind India being labelled the favourites was the World Cup being played in the sub-continent. India had built a strong base heading into the World Cup. Their batsmen were in fine form and the bowling department too looked in a good rhythm. Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and South Africa were contenders for the trophy too. The Aussies were unbeaten in the previous two world cups. They were a different beast when it came to the big tournaments. A consecutive 4th World Cup win was not far away from their reach.
How did it start for India in the World Cup?
India got off to a fantastic start against Bangladesh in the opening game of the World Cup. The men in blue posted a score of 370-4. It marked the beginning of how India will be playing in the tournament. India defeated Bangladesh and tied the game with England. Sachin Tendulkar scored his 98th international hundred in that game. Yuvraj Singh scored a half-century against England and from then on carried his form right until the finals. He scored a fifty and picked up a fifer against Ireland. Singh played a key role in the win over the Netherlands.
India had notched up 3 wins in 4 games with 1 match being tied. The next match was against South Africa. It was India’s first litmus test. India were in pole position batting first in the game. The scoreboard read 267-1 in 38 overs. India spectacular collapsed and were bowled out for 296. They lost their last 9 wickets for 29 runs. India went on to lose the game. This defeat came as a huge setback for not just the team but even for the fans. India slowly made their way back with a thumping 80-run win over the West Indies. They ended the group stage with 4 wins, 1 loss, and 1 tie. India were 2nd in the points table.
Defeating four former world champions in a row to make history:
India faced Australia in the quarter-finals. This match was touted to be the finals before the final. Australia posted 260 on a tricky wicket. India were 186-5 needing 75 more runs. Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina combined forces to help India win a brilliant game.
India set a semi-final date with Pakistan. Sehwag got India off to a flier before India stuttered on their way to post a decent score. Tendulkar’s 85 and Raina’s 36 proved to be crucial. India defended their score brilliantly and won the game. They were set to face Sri Lanka in the final.
The Big Final:
The team had 2 days gap between the semi-finals and the finals. Sri Lanka posted a sizeable score of 274 in the finals. No team had ever chased 275 in a World Cup final before. India lost Sehwag and Tendulkar cheaply. The crowd was tense not just in the stadium but across the world watching the game. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir stitched together a valuable partnership before Kohli was dismissed for 35. India were 114-3.
In walked Dhoni ahead of Yuvraj Singh to counter the Lankan off-spinners. Gambhir missed out on a historic century when he was dismissed for 97. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh then joined forces for a memorable partnership. On the 2nd ball of 49th over, Dhoni lofted Nuwan Kulasekara for a World Cup-winning six. That iconic six has become the defining moment of India’s World Cup triumph. India thereby managed to defeat all former World Cup champions in a row.
India’s heroes during their World Cup-winning campaign:
India found different heroes in different matches. Tendulkar, Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, and Raina all stepped in with the bat on important occasions. Zaheer Khan spearheaded the bowling. He was the joint highest wicket-taker (21) in the tournament. Khan bowled 3 successive maidens in the opening 3 overs of the final. He set the tempo for India on most occasions. Harbhajan Singh picked up important wickets while the likes of Ashish Nehra and Munaf Patel were disciplined throughout. Ravichandran Ashwin bowled his heart out in the 2 important games he played.
The iconic pair of the era:
But it all boiled down to two key players of the Indian team during that era who helped India lift the title. They were none other than Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni. Yuvraj Singh scored 362 runs and picked up 15 wickets. He was rightfully adjudged the Man of the Tournament. There have been many who have questioned the importance attached to MS Dhoni and his contribution towards the win. They don’t realize that it was Dhoni who made the entire nation believe that a World Cup win is possible. Dhoni carried the expectations of the country. He delivered when it mattered the most. Dhoni remains the only captain who gave India two World Cup wins in 4 years.
It has been 10 years to this World Cup-winning date but its memories are still as fresh as ever. A win that united the nation!