“Dhoni finishes it off in style, a magnificent strike into the crowd… India lift the World Cup!” These words from the then commentator, Ravi Shastri are, perhaps, etched in the minds of every Indian cricket fan. The visuals of the Indian cricket team taking a lap of the Wankhede Stadium, with Yuvraj Singh lifting Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders, still bring a sense of nostalgia. In 2011, on this day, India won their second ODI World Cup trophy after defeating Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai.
But while most fans remember it to be a comfortable win, considering India had six wickets in hand and 10 balls to spare, things could have been very different if not for skipper MS Dhoni.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Sri Lanka rode on a brilliant hundred from Mahela Jayawardene to post a competitive total of 274/6 in 50 overs. The right-hander struck 13 fours in his innings to score an unbeaten 103 in 88 balls.
In reply, India suffered a big blow early on as opener Virender Sehwag was dismissed LBW by Lasith Malinga on the very 2nd ball of the innings. Sachin Tendulkar was too dismissed early on by Malinga as India went down 31/2. The onus to build a partnership fell on Delhi boys Gautam Gambhir and a young Virat Kohli.
The duo added 83 runs before Kohli was dismissed in the 21st over for 35 runs. With India three wickets down for 114, and still needing 161 to win, one more wicket could have really added the pressure. The usual person to bat at this position was Yuvraj Singh, who had been in tremendous form throughout the tournament. MS Dhoni, on the other hand, had a forgettable tournament with the bat till the final.
But Dhoni was always known for following his instincts as a captain, and in the final, on the big stage, he decided to put himself on the firing line, by promoting himself over Yuvraj and going out to bat at the crucial stage. He started off slow and built a partnership with Gambhir.
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Gambhir and Dhoni added 110 runs more before the left-hander was cleaned up by Thisara Perera for 97. Yuvraj came out in the middle and just watched on as Dhoni went on a rampage. The wicketkeeper-batsman struck 8 fours and 2 sixes in his innings 79-ball 91*. He hit Nuwan Kulasekara for a six to win the match and the trophy for India. Dhoni was declared the Player of the Match for his performance.