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

On April 2, 2011, MS Dhoni gave a billion Indian cricket fans plenty of joy as he guided India to World Cup glory at home in the final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai.

cricket Updated: Apr 02, 2017 11:34 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
India national cricket team,The Cricket World Cup,MS Dhoni
India won the World Cup after 28 years on April 2, 2011 when they defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets to become the first nation to win the tournament at home.(Getty Images)

MS Dhoni was on strike. Nuwan Kulasekara was the bowler. It was the second ball of the 49th over. India required four runs from 11. Kulasekara bowls a full ball and Dhoni winds up to deposit the ball into the stands at long on. At that moment, a billion Indian fans cheered and celebrated. History was made. After 28 years, on April 2, 2011, India had finally won the World Cup after beating Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final.

The win was special for many reasons. India became the first team to win a World Cup at home and they became the only team to win the 60-over World Cup and the 50-over World Cup. For Dhoni, he stamped his brilliance on the big stage and continued his successful run in global tournaments, having won the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. For Sachin Tendulkar, India’s greatest batsman, it was another major addition to his list of achievements.

India had been riding the wave of success leading into the 2011 World Cup. They had been performing consistently and had tremendous momentum heading into the tournament. In their opening game against Bangladesh in Dhaka, centuries from Virender Sehwag (175) and Virat Kohli (100) ensured that the team got off to a great start with a 87-run win.

In India’s second game against England, there was drama. Tendulkar’s magnificent 120 was almost negated by Andrew Strauss’ majestic 158. However, after 676 runs, there was no clear cut winner as the game ended in a tie. After victories over Ireland and Netheralands, India took on South Africa. Tendulkar notched up his 99th international century but a calamitous collapse of 9/29 saw South Africa chase 297 with only three wickets in hand. Yuvraj Singh came to the fore with a dazzling hundred against West Indies in Chennai as India rounded off their league campaign with an 80-run win.

MS Dhoni slammed an unbeaten 91 to help India beat Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final of the 2011 ICC World Cup in Mumbai (Getty Images)

India dazzle in knock-outs

In the high-voltage clash against Australia in Ahmedabad, Ricky Ponting’s 104 helped the three-time defending champions reach 260/6. But Yuvraj, who had picked up 2/44, blasted 57 off 65 balls as India registered a win over Australia in a World Cup after 24 years. Heading into the massive game against Pakistan, Tendulkar was repreived four times as he went on to make 85. Pakistan could not mount a challenge and they suffered their fifth loss to India in this tournament.

Having entered the final for the first time since 2003, India faced Sri Lanka and Kumar Sangakkara’s team chose to bat. Mahela Jayawardene’s magnificent 107 helped Sri Lanka to 274/7 and it looked like they would clinch the title after dismissing Sehwag and Tendulkar cheaply. Gautam Gambhir steadied the ship with a 83-run stand with Virat Kohli before Kohli was dismissed for 34. However, MS Dhoni promoted himself up the order and it proved to be a masterstroke.

Gambhir and Dhoni turned the tables with a magnificent 109-run stand. The Indian skipper notched up his first World Cup fifty but Gambhir missed his century by three runs as he was bowled by Thisara Perera for 97. However, Dhoni led from the front and sealed the title with a brilliant, unbeaten knock of 91. After Kapil Dev’s team had put India on the world cricket map with their win in the 1983 World Cup in Lord’s against West Indies, Dhoni’s achievements in 2011 ensured that a foundation for India’s global domination would be laid.

First Published: Apr 02, 2017 11:26 IST