In an all-Asian 2011 World Cup final dominated by three splendid batting performances, Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni marginally outshone Mahela Jayawardene as India regained the World Cup after 28 long years.
After the pain of 1996, the heartbreak of 2003 and the humiliation of 2007 India surged to their second title success on the back of Gambhir’s stubborn 97 and his alliance with Dhoni which shut Sri Lanka out of the contest after they had reduced the favourites to 114/3 chasing 275.
Jayawardene’s effortless unbeaten 103 had lifted Sri Lanka to a challenging total after they had been in early strife themselves, but India had their answer in Gambhir. He controlled the chase magnificently after the openers fell cheaply with a gritty innings and alongside Dhoni, who by the end of his knock cut an exhausted figure, helped guide India to a six-wicket victory. (REWIND: Daring MS Dhoni masterminds India’s epic triumph over Sri Lanka)
The winning hit came via a monstrous six, cuing absolute pandemonium in the ground.
Sachin Tendulkar, after 22 years in the game, was one of the first to run onto the ground and it was an eye-moistening moment to observe.
“The pressure you go through is a lot; we felt it throughout the tournament,” was how Dhoni described being inside the Indian team’s bubble. After six World Cups, Tendulkar was moved to tears and termed the victory as his best moment: “I couldn’t have asked for anything more than this. Winning the World Cup is the proudest moment of my life. Thanks to my team-mates. Without them, nothing would have happened. I couldn’t control my tears of joy.”
Neither could the rest of India’s cricket fans.
India 277/4 in 48.2 overs (Gambhir 97, MS Dhoni 91*) beat Sri Lanka 274/6 in 50 overs (Jayawardene 103*) by six wickets
Man of the Match: MS Dhoni.