On April 2, 2011 India won the 2011 ODI World Cup by beating Sri Lanka in the final.(Getty Images)
On April 2, 2011 India won the 2011 ODI World Cup by beating Sri Lanka in the final.(Getty Images)

10 years of ecstasy: How MS Dhoni & Co. made a billion dreams come true on April 2, 2011 in 9 hard-fought steps

  • On this day (April 2, 2011), 10 years ago, India won the ODI World Cup after 28 years by Sri Lanka in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Let's take you through the journey of all of India's 9 matches and re-live how Men in Blue's campaign culminated with that historic night.
UPDATED ON APR 02, 2021 07:14 AM IST

On February 19, 2011, India began their ICC World Cup campaign in Dhaka, Bangladesh, as world champions of 1983; The Kapil Dev-led side scripted history on June 25 as they gave India their first-ever World Cup. On April 2, 2011, Christmas came early. Indian finished the tournament as two-time champions of the world. MS Dhoni and his men, 28 years later, delivered the one gift every Indian in the world prayed for.

"Dhoni finishes off in style! A magnificent strike into the crowd. India lift the World Cup after 28 years." These words were spoken by former commentator and present India head coach Ravi Shastri on air and even 10 years on, they continue to echo in every Indian's ears. The image of the ever-cool, at times enigmatic, MS Dhoni holding the pose, swinging the bat in his left hand flashes across open eyes the moment you hear these words.

The journey to the glittering trophy involved playing in two countries, Bangladesh and India, in eight different stadiums and against nine different teams. 14 teams were divided into two groups, A and B, and the co-hosts were a part of the latter. After a debacle in the 2007 edition, when India failed to clear the group stage, the 2011 World Cup victory was a tale of redemption of epic proportions.

Let's take you through the journey and re-live how India's campaign culminated with that historic night in Mumbai.

1) Perfect Start

Virat Kohli of India raises his bat on reaching his century during the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup between Bangladesh and India at the Shere-e-Bangla National Stadium on February 19, 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.(Getty)
Virat Kohli of India raises his bat on reaching his century during the opening game of the ICC Cricket World Cup between Bangladesh and India at the Shere-e-Bangla National Stadium on February 19, 2011 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.(Getty)

The 2011 World Cup was co-hosted by India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka. India kicked off their tournament at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Dhaka. Bangladesh opted to bowl but the decision didn't have any impact on India as they posted a mammoth 370/4 in 50 overs. Opener Virender Sehwag 170 off 140 balls and a young Virat Kohli brought up his maiden World Cup ton with an 83-ball 100. In the second half, the home team could only manage 283/9 with Tamim Iqbal (70) and Shakib Al Hasan (55) not receiving any considerable support from their teammates. For India, Munaf Patel pocketed four wickets.

2) No Winner, No Loser

Eight days later on February 27, India and England played a famous draw at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore. India won the toss and opted to bat first. Courtesy Sachin Tendulkar (120), Gautam Gambhir (51), and Yuvraj Singh (58), India surged to 338 all-out in 49.5 overs. Tim Bresnan was England's wrecker-in-chief as he bagged a five-wicket haul and stemmed the run-flow considerably at the death. In response, Andrew Strauss scored a magnificent 158 runs at the top and was ably supported by Ian Bell's 69. Despite finding themselves in a winning position at 281/4 in the 43rd over, England could not get over the line finished at 338/8. Zaheer Khan took three wickets, while Munaf Patel and Piyush Chawla bagged a brace each.

3) Back On Track

India locked horns with Ireland on the same ground a week later and won it comfortably by five wickets. Opting to field first, India restricted the Irish team to 207 in 47.5 overs. Left-arm spinner returned with figures of 5/31 in 10 overs and pacer Zaheer took three wickets. Opener William Porterfield scored 75. In response, the home side chased down the target in 46 overs. After losing Sehwag and Gambhir for the score of 24, India received a boost from Sachin Tendulkar (38) and Virat Kohli's (34) partnership of 63. Once they departed, Yuvraj (50) and MS Dhoni (34) took India to the brink of victory. All-rounder Yusuf Pathan scored 30 off 24 balls to seal the victory.

4) The Dutch Conquered

In their fourth Group B match, at the erstwhile Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium, Delhi, India took on the Netherlands. The visitors opted to bat first and posting a meager total of 189 in 46.4 overs. Zaheer clinched three wickets, while Chawla and Yuvraj took two wickets each. India chased down the target in 36.3 overs to seal victory by five wickets. Once again, southpaw Yuvraj impressed with the bat, scoring another 50. Pieter Seelaar for the men in orange impressed the most with the ball, dismissing Yusuf, Sehwag, and Tendulkar en route to returning with figures of 3/53 in 10 overs.

5) Hiccup

India's solitary loss in the entire tournament came against South Africa at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur. After opting to bat first, India raced to 283/5 after 43 overs. Opener Tendlulkar registered yet another century (111) and Gambhir scored 69. However, India suffered a major collapse as they were bundled out for 296 in 48.4 overs, losing five wickets for just 13 runs in 34 balls. Pacer Dale Steyn bagged a five-wicket haul. In response, the Proteas overcame the target with just two balls to spare. South Africa motored on with half-centuries from opener Hashim Amla (61), one-down Jacques Kallis (69), and AB de Villiers (52). India pegged back with three quick wickets of JP Duminy, Morne van Wyk, and de Villiers, but failed to avoid defeat.

6) No Looking Back From Here On

India beat West Indies comprehensively by 80 runs in their final group game at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai. After electing to bat first, India put on 268 in 49.1 overs. Kohli was promoted to number 3 and the move paid dividends as he scored 69. India's World Cup star Yuvraj Singh scored 113. Windies pacer Ravi Rampaul pocketed 5/51 in 10 overs. West Indies only went as far as 188 in their chase. Opener Devon Smith scored 81 but it was Zaheer's three wickets and R. Ashwin and Yuvraj's two-wicket hauls that proved more effective. India finished second in their group, below South Africa, and qualified for the quarterfinals in convincing fashion.

7) End Of An Era

Australia came into this tournament on the back of three consecutive WC wins in 1999, 2003, and 2007. The Ricky Ponting-led side started the tournament as one of the favourites but it wasn't mean to be that year as they suffered a five-wicket defeat in Ahmedabad in the crucial quarter-final. The men in yellow arrived in the city a little wounded from the group stage. A loss to Pakistan and an abandoned game against Sri Lanka meant they finished a lowly third, at least to their standards.

Yuvraj Singh of India celebrates hitting the winning runs during the 2011 ICC World Cup Quarter Final match between Australia and India at Sardar Patel Stadium on March 24, 2011 in Ahmedabad.(Getty Images)
Yuvraj Singh of India celebrates hitting the winning runs during the 2011 ICC World Cup Quarter Final match between Australia and India at Sardar Patel Stadium on March 24, 2011 in Ahmedabad.(Getty Images)


Opting to bat, Ponting's side was restricted to 260/6 in 50 overs. Skipper's knock of 104 and Brad Haddin's innings of 53 threatened to post a huge total, but the fightback from the Indian bowlers proved to be too good. Zaheer, Munaf, and Yuvraj picked two wickets each. In response, India chased down the target in 47.4 overs. Tendulkar (53), Gambhir (50), and Yuvraj (57) helped their team get over the line to end an era of Australia's dominance in at the World Cup and book a semifinal date with a special team.

8) "Mauke Pe Chauka"

Sachin Tendulkar of India runs between wickets during the 2011 ICC World Cup second Semi-Final between India and Pakistan at Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on March 30, 2011 in Mohali, India.(Getty)
Sachin Tendulkar of India runs between wickets during the 2011 ICC World Cup second Semi-Final between India and Pakistan at Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) Stadium on March 30, 2011 in Mohali, India.(Getty)

The stage was set for former champions at the PCA Stadium in Mohali to go one step closer to the elusive title. India and Pakistan squared off against each other in a high-voltage clash that was attended by dignitaries from both countries. Electing to bat first, Tendulkar was the only batsman who managed to cross the 50-run mark. His knock of 85, which was full of dropped chances, helped India reach a modest total of 260-9 in 50 overs, that too after some late hitting by Suresh Raina. Wahab Riaz starred with the ball, picking five wickets. In response, Mohammad Hafeez's 43 and Asad Shafiq's 30 laid a strong foundation for the visitors. Misbah-ul-Haq then scored an ominous-looking 76-ball 56. All three results were possible as long as Misbah was in the middle. But he kept losing partners at the other end and eventually at 231/9 in 49.4 overs, Zaheer Khan sent Misbah packing and India clinched a memorable victory of 29 runs.

9) Dhoni Finishes Off In Style

The Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai was where India created history on the night of April 2 when they beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in a tense finale. The Gary Kirsten-coached side was asked to bowl first. Sri Lanka lost their openers early but veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardena steadied the ship. The former fell for 48 but Mahela stuck around till the end. His unbeaten century, 88-ball 103, shifted the momentum in his team's favour as Sri Lanka finished at 274/6 in their 50 overs. A fighting total, to say the least.

Sachin Tendulkar of India celebrates with the World Cup after beating Sri Lanka during the 2011 ICC World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Mumbai, India.(Getty)
Sachin Tendulkar of India celebrates with the World Cup after beating Sri Lanka during the 2011 ICC World Cup Final between India and Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium on April 2, 2011 in Mumbai, India.(Getty)

The weight of the occasion was extremely high and India got off to a nervous start. Lasith Malinga sent Sehwag (0) and Tendulkar (18) packing very early as India found themselves struggling at 31/2. Young shoulders of Kohli and Gambhir came to India's rescue. Kohli's 35 was brought to an end by a brilliant caught and bowled by Dilshan. Dhoni promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj and Yusuf to come out at No.4. Gambhir and Dhoni stitched a match-winning 109-run partnership for the third wicket before the left-hander fell agonizingly short of his 100. He charged down the track to Thisara Perara only to lose his stumps on 97. From there on, Dhoni took over with good support from Yuvraj (21). The Indian captain hit Nuwan Kulasekara for a six over the deep mid-wicket boundary to remain unbeaten on 91 and it led to never-ending celebrations in the country.

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