28 Years in the Making: Dhoni and Gambhir Secure World Cup Glory for India in Nostalgic Triumph


28 Years in the Making: Dhoni and Gambhir Secure World Cup Glory for India in Nostalgic Triumph

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April 2, 2011, Team India, led by MS Dhoni, etched their name in history by securing their second World Cup victory after a 28-year-long wait. The moment was electrifyingly captured by Ravi Shastri’s booming voice, echoing with feelings, passion, and overwhelming delight. Dhoni’s casual dismissal of Nuwan Kulasekara over long-on marked the grand finale of a roller-coaster journey that had gripped a nation’s heart for a month and a half.

In 1983, India was considered an underdog, merely expected to participate. However, Kapil Dev’s fearless squad defied all odds, scripting an extraordinary tale of victory. By 2011, the situation had changed drastically. Winning the title was no longer a choice; it was a mandate. The fact that no team had previously won the World Cup on home soil or that India had experienced a lackluster run-up to the tournament, concluding with a 2-3 loss in South Africa, faded into insignificance. Victory was the only option.

India’s campaign in the tournament was far from perfect. After a blazing start against Bangladesh in Mirpur, they encountered setbacks along the way, notably a shocking defeat to South Africa in Nagpur. Nonetheless, India regrouped, surging past West Indies, Australia (in the quarterfinals), and Pakistan (in the semifinals) to earn a spot in the April 2 final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium. Standing in their path to a second World Cup title were Sri Lanka, unexpected finalists who had thrived on home turf. However, their aspirations were dealt a heavy blow when influential all-rounder Angelo Mathews was ruled out due to injury, necessitating multiple changes to their lineup.

Amidst a dramatic toss, which had to be repeated, India seized the early initiative thanks to an inspired Zaheer Khan, who had been outstanding throughout the tournament. Zaheer’s spell of three maidens in his first five overs, along with the wicket of Upul Tharanga, propelled India forward. Fueled by a passionate crowd, India consistently thwarted Sri Lanka’s advances, maintaining the upper hand. Each time Sri Lanka posed a threat, India snatched a wicket. As they entered the final ten overs with Sri Lanka at 182 for five, victory seemed well within their grasp.

However, Mahela Jayawardene had other plans. He crafted a remarkable century, accelerating from 50 to 100 in just 35 deliveries. With 13 fours to his name, Jayawardene formed crucial partnerships of 66 and 26 (in just 12 balls) with Kulasekara and Thisara Perera, ultimately guiding Sri Lanka to a competitive total of 274 for six.

India’s chase began with the early loss of Virender Sehwag and the dismissal of Sachin Tendulkar, playing his last World Cup innings, by Lasith Malinga. However, Delhi’s duo, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, stabilized the innings with a crucial 83-run partnership. The biggest surprise came when, upon Kohli’s dismissal, it was Dhoni and not Yuvraj Singh, who had been having an outstanding tournament, who walked to the crease. Dhoni’s decision was based on his ability to handle the Muttiah Muralitharan threat, a calculated gamble given his previous modest World Cup scores.

Nevertheless, Dhoni’s gamble paid off spectacularly. He dismantled the Sri Lankan bowling attack without taking undue risks, scoring at a brisk pace. His aggressive batting against Malinga and Muralitharan left the crowd and his batting partner Gambhir astonished. Their partnership of 109 runs brought India closer to victory.

As Gambhir narrowly missed a century, Yuvraj Singh took the field to a thunderous ovation. This World Cup had been Yuvraj’s tournament, and it was fitting that he was there at the end. While Yuvraj played some elegant strokes, it was Dhoni who accelerated as the finish line approached. Long before the final moments, victory seemed assured. And as the nation readied itself for a celebration that seemed never-ending, Dhoni sealed the deal with a colossal hit over long-on, sending the entire country into a state of euphoria. The Promised Land had been reached, and it had been achieved in the most stylish fashion.

Final Scores: Sri Lanka 274 for six in 50 overs (Tillakaratne Dilshan 33, Kumar Sangakkara 48, Mahela Jayawardene 103 not out, Nuwan Kulasekara 32; Zaheer Khan 2-60, Yuvraj Singh 2-49) lost to India 277 for four in 48.2 overs (Gautam Gambhir 97, Virat Kohli 35, Mahendra Singh Dhoni 91 not out; Lasith Malinga 2-42) by six wickets. Player of the Match: Mahendra Singh Dhoni.



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