“Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd. India lift the World Cup after 28 years. The party starts in the dressing room and it’s an Indian captain who’s been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final," - these have been etched in every Indian's memory. 12 years ago, on April 2 2011 at Mumbai's iconic Wankhede Stadium, the Men in Blue lifted the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup after almost three decades against the Asian rivals Sri Lanka.
That was a time when the teams in Asia were thriving with three in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka being at the top of their game while Bangladesh breathing down their neck. 12 and a half years later, it's November 2, the teams are the same, the venue is the same, but the gulf between the teams has widened. India are still at the top of their game and looking in top form on their way to winning another home World Cup, while Sri Lanka and Pakistan may no longer even be the second-best teams in Asia.
Afghanistan's superb form may have coincided with Sri Lanka and Pakistan's dip in the ongoing World Cup but if the islanders are taken in isolation, the team looks like a pale shadow of itself. Yes, the mass retirement of the likes of Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara and Tillakaratne Dilshan in quick succession didn't help as it delayed the transition by a couple of years and when it looked like Sri Lanka had found a core group of young batters and bowlers, injuries, lack of consistency in 50 overs hit them hard, especially in the multi-nation events. The quality can be sustained only for a limited time and against a set number of teams when it hasn't hit its peak despite it being done over a period of time.
However, India somehow have been able to sustain the quality. Even though the ICC title drought has extended for over a decade for this Indian team, the determination to win the title in the ongoing edition is visible in the team bonding, the performance and the collective effort from both bat and ball.
The squads are completely different for both teams too. Since it's been 12 years both teams have gone through multiple transitions. India have undergone a couple of leadership changes as well with the only squad members to be involved in both tournaments being Virat Kohli and R Ashwin. Kohli has become a cricketing genius in the last decade or so with over 26000 runs while Ashwin somehow comes into the reckoning before every World Cup, which has happened for the last three years, without playing much white-ball cricket for India through the year.
For Sri Lanka, it is a brand new team with Angelo Mathews being the only player in both the squads. Mathews wasn't considered in the squad initially but came in as an injury replacement and has been a guiding figure in the side. Mathews missed the final owing to an injury hence Kohli is the only player to play both the matches.
The rivalry and its buzz might have died down a bit but its India vs Sri Lanka in the World Cup at Wankhede... who's complaining?