It's hard to forget the emotional outburst of the-then commentator, now head coach of Indian team Ravi Shastri after MS Dhoni slammed a six to end a 28-year wait for a World Cup trophy. His words reverberate in the ear almost as if it had happened yesterday. Yet, incredible as it may be, today marks the ninth anniversary of the historic triumph.
India defeated Sri Lanka in the final of the 2011 World Cup in Mumbai, and it couldn't have been a better place to achieve the remarkable feat for the Indian cricketers - Sachin Tendulkar in particular. It was reasonable to believe that the 2011 edition would be his final appearance in the showpiece event (as it was, eventually), and a World Cup trophy remained the only elusive piece of silverware missing in his highly enviable trophy cabinet. To lift the trophy in front of his home crowd must be spectacular, to say the least.
The heroes of the final, though, were Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni, and there was an understated contribution from the youngster Virat Kohli as well, after India's veteran opening duo - Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were dismissed cheaply in the 275-run chase.
Sri Lanka had won the toss at the Wankhede Stadium, opting to bat. India made an early breakthrough, courtesy Zaheer Khan as Upul Tharanga was dismissed on 2. The dismissal followed crucial partnerships for the visitors, with Tillakratne Dilshan (33) and Kumar Sangakkara (48) digging hard. Mahela Jayawerdenee slammed a century, remaining unbeaten on 103, with Nuwan Kulasekara (32) and Thisara Perera (22*) making significant contributions at the end.
In the chase, the side was rocked with the dismissal of Virender Sehwag in the very first over. Lasith Malinga trapped him leg-before-wicket and it wasn't long before Tendulkar, too, handed a simple catch to Sangakkara off the bowler. India were 31/2 - the two of the most celebrated batsmen of the side were back in the pavilion and there was an eery silence at the Wankhede. The need of the hour was to stabilize the innings, which was done impressively by Gambhir and Kohli (35).
In a surprising move (which could've easily backfired if it hadn't worked so well), captain MS Dhoni promoted himself to number 5 - above Yuvraj Singh, the tournament's hero. Dhoni hadn't shined with the bat throughout the campaign and many raised eyebrows as he came out to bat.
“Dhoniiiiii...finishes off in style…a magnificent strike into the crowd…India lift 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." #9YearsOf2011WC 🦁💛 pic.twitter.com/K6wCDZBHpQ— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) April 1, 2020
However, proving everyone wrong, he played with utter grit and patience as he forged a brilliant 109-run stand with Gambhir to steer India closer to victory. The southpaw fell three runs shy of his century, while Dhoni (91*) and Yuvraj (21*) guided India to the World Cup title.
The celebrations following India's victory easily resembled a Diwali night - it was indeed a festival for the young generation of Indian fans who had seen their side lift the premier trophy for the first time in their lives. The people came out on the streets, danced like there was no tomorrow and the euphoria would remain for a few days.
In the 2015 and 2019 World Cup events, India performed impressively again but couldn't repeat the feat. In both the editions, India lost in the semifinals after topping the league stages.