Today India celebrates the 10th anniversary of their 2011 World Cup win. Their second overall, but the first on home soil before their adoring and passionate fans. As part of our partnership with Waadaplaya, Akash J Shettigar recalls the tournament from India's perspective leading to the momentous six-wicket win over Sri Lanka.
Tonight – the road to the final
"Dhoni finishes it in style ... India win The World Cup after 28 years. " These words came from the current Indian coach Ravi Shastri in the commentary box. The moment was etched in our memories forever. Especially for a generation born during and post the late 1980s, it was surreal. Tears of joy streamed down the cheeks of cricketers and fans alike. Ten years on, reliving the moment still gives us goosebumps. What a win, what a finish, Waadaplaya Waadaplaya !!!
India started the tournament as one of the favourites. The tournament itself was being staged in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, the showpiece final at the Wankhede in Mumbai. Sachin Tendulkar was playing, perhaps, his last World cup and there was a sense of now or never for the Little Master.
In MS Dhoni, India had a captain who had tasted T20 World Cup success and was looking to add another feather to his cap. One man battling personal health yet carrying the team's hope match after match. A team brimming with confident individuals with the willpower to go all the way. Billions of fans cheering their team for every single ball. It felt as though even the Gods had come together to watch all good things come to a joyous end – for the hosts.
India began their campaign against co-hosts Bangladesh at Shere Bangla National Stadium, Dhaka. Memories of a horrible loss to these opponents in 2007 played on the minds of the Indian fans. Bangladesh as a team had grown much stronger since then and they were ready to surprise their friendly neighbours yet again.
But from the off, Indian fears were allayed. The first ball bowled by Shafiul Islam to Virender Sehwag disappeared to the boundary, followed swiftly by those fears of a repeat heist. Scintillating centuries from Sehwag and a budding Virat Kohli ensured India romped home in the grandest style and put down a marker for the others.
Up next were England, blissfully unaware of the Bengaluru O'Brien battering to come. The Little Master was in business, scoring his fifth World cup hundred, ensuring India had a strong total on the board, but England found their own unlikely ODI hero that day in Andrew Strauss whose 158 took the game to a tie. No super overs in 2011. Honours shared.
0India strode past their next two opponents, Ireland and Netherlands, before facing their only defeat of the tournament against the group toppers, South Africa. Sachin's 99th international ton, backed up by quickfire fifties from Sehwag and Gautum Gambhir, should have set up a winning total, but Dale Steyn had other ideas and his five wickets restricted India and his team, refusing to choke on this occasion, eased home by three wickets
Yuvraj Singh, a household name in India, was having a dream tournament. Little did we know that he was enduring the pain of a cancerous tumour throughout but he still smashed 362 runs, with four fifties and a hundred, took 15 wickets and claimed four man-of-the-match awards.
West Indies were right in his firing line as a superlative hundred followed by a couple of wickets ensured India brushed them aside comfortably and ended the group stage just behind South Africa, setting up a quarter final against defending champions Australia.
India were now three steps away from glory but up against them were a team that had hurt them badly in their last World Cup encounter in the 2003 final. Ponting scored another crafty hundred, recalling his masterful Johannesburg ton.
Australia were riding on the back of three consecutive World Cup triumphs, but the storyline was about to change. India chased down the target of 261 on the back of fifties from Sachin, Gambhir, and Yuvraj yet again. Yuvraj had delivered with the ball, his slow left arm picking up two wickets. As Yuvraj creamed Brett Lee through the covers to finish proceedings, there was a sense of disbelief. India had done the unthinkable – knocked out Australia!
Onwards to the semi-finals and Pakistan. The stadium was jam-packed; fans of both nations were glued to their televisions; even political leaders put aside their agendas to witness the highest voltage rivalry in cricket with a final at stake.
Sehwag provided an electrifying start which was apt for the beautiful setup at the PCA Stadium, Mohali. Sachin lived half a cat's life, dropped four times before getting out for a well-compiled 85. Wahab Riaz bowled with great pace and accuracy, picking up five wickets including a first-ball toe crusher to send back Yuvraj Singh. India posted a competitive total of 260, the same as Australia posted in the previous quarter-final encounter.
The Indian bowlers, barring Zaheer Khan (the tournament's joint highest wicket-taker with 21 wickets) and Yuvraj, had experienced see-sawing fortunes up to this point, but it was time for them to collectively come good. Each of the five used picked up two wickets with a special delivery – arm ball? Doosra? – from Harbhajan Singh to bowl out Umar Akmal being the highlight.
And as Kohli settled under the skier from Misbah, there were fireworks all around, with fans in a frenzy of celebratory delight. India had beaten Pakistan by 29 runs, keeping their unbeaten World cup run against their arch rivals intact and were in the grand finale.
But for that you will have to wait till tomorrow and Akash's account of that. Waddatease!