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The moment from the 2011 World Cup win most people forgot

Captain MS Dhoni famously hit the winning six that won India the trophy hours after being involved in toss mix-up with Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara.

cricket Updated: Apr 02, 2017 16:25 IST
India national cricket team‬
MS Dhoni of India tosses the coin for the second time with Kumar Sangakkara of Sri Lanka looking on during the 2011 World Cup final at Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Mumbai.(Getty Images)

MS Dhoni hit an emphatic six off Nuwan Kulasekara in the 49th over of the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka when India only needed four runs from 11 balls to win.

That hit on April 2, 2011, has now become a part of Indian cricketing folklore and Dhoni has come to be known as one of the best finishers in the game; with debate that he may be the greatest finisher of all time.

Read more | On this day in 2011, MS Dhoni gave India a billion reasons to smile

However, an incident from earlier in that game — an incident that took place before a single ball had been bowled — has caught the interest of cricket fans on the sixth anniversary of the event.

It had been famously reported in the lead up to the match that the team batting first had a higher chance of winning the match. During the course of the tournament, the team batting first usually managed an unassailable score and the Lankans themselves had big hitters in their line-up.

In fact, Sri Lanka’s record of wins against India when batting first also contributed.

Aside from that, Wankhede Stadium — which was hosting the final — had conditions that were conducive for a first innings.

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Hence, winning the toss was considered imperative to a team’s chances of winning the match.

Incidentally, so high were the levels of energy and nervousness that the coin toss had to be done not once but twice before the game could begin.

Then India captain Dhoni was to toss the coin while his Sri Lankan counterpart Kumar Sangakkara was to call it. They were accompanied by commentator Ravi Shastri and match referee Jeff Crowe at the pitch while the 33,000-capacity Wankhede Stadium continued to fill up with fans.

After Dhoni tossed the coin, Shastri declared that the coin had landed heads and Dhoni confidently told him that India would bat first. However, Shastri, having looked at the coin toss and not hearing what Sangakkara called, turned to Crowe for confirmation that India had indeed won the toss.

Crowe said, “I didn’t hear it,” which left all four men confused. After a short deliberation, it was decided to toss the coin once again.

Sangakkara called “heads” the second time the coin was tossed. The coin fell his way and he announced that Sri Lanka would bat first.

Minor outrage

Replays by the television broadcasters indicated that Sangakkara had called ‘heads’ the first time. However Dhoni was under the impression that the Sri Lanka captain had called ‘tails’ which is why he announced his decision to Shastri to bat first, anticipating the start of the post toss interview.

Several former cricketers voiced their opinions about repeating the toss.

Read more | India vs Australia: Criticised pitches made great contests

Former England captain Michael Vaughan tweeted: “Sangakkarra has stuffed Dhoni... He shouted tail in the 1st toss and lost it ...You can hear it in on air. (sic)”

Indian cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar tweeted: “Who would have expected that in the big finals?” asked the player-turned-commentator. 2 tosses !Had to do re toss bcoz (because) the referee did not hear sanga’s call the 1st time. (sic)”

Former Sri Lankan pacer Ravindra Pushpakumara said: “This is the first time in the history I have seen a toss being repeated since 1975 World Cup.”

Prone to error

The 2011 World Cup was not the first time Crowe was involved in a refereeing gaffe.

He was part of the officiating team that forced Australia and Sri Lanka to play out three overs in near darkness in the 2007 edition.

After rain before the final in Bridgetown, Barbados, had reduced play to 38 overs each, the match was called off because of poor lighting.

Australia were the expected winners by the Duckworth-Lewis method and had begun celebrating when the officiating team incorrectly told them that an additional three overs needed to be played the next day.

Captains of both teams — Mahela Jayawardene of Sri Lanka and Ricky Ponting of Australia — agreed to play out the three overs in near darkness rather than return to play the next day.

It was later understood that the last three overs were not needed since the match had already been completed under international cricket rules.

At the time, Crowe had blamed the error on South African umpire Rudi Koertzen, who was the television replay official for the final.