Gautam Gambhir’s match-winning knock of 97 against Sri Lanka played a crucial role in helping Team India lift the World Cup title after a gap of 28 long years. Gambhir’s knock and his vital 109-run partnership for the fourth wicket with MS Dhoni paved the way for a memorable win for the Men in Blue who lifted the trophy for the first time since 1983.

Gambhir’s knock drew as much intrigue as admiration due to the fact that he fell just three runs short of a century in a World Cup final. After losing openers – Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early in the 275 chase, Gambhir led from the front while batting at number three. First, the left-hander conjured up an important stand of 82 runs with Virat Kohli followed up by a match-changing partnership with then-skipper Dhoni to bail India out of trouble.

Gambhir, who retired from all forms of cricket in December 2018, has now revealed that it was Dhoni who reminded him of being so close to the personal landmark, which in turn led to him playing a rash shot and get out. “I have been asked this question many times, as to what happened when I was on 97. I tell everyone that before getting to 97, I never thought about my individual score, but only looked at the target set by Sri Lanka,” Gambhir said in an interview with Lallantop.

“I remember that after the completion of one over, Dhoni told me that ‘three runs are remaining, get these three runs and your hundred would be completed’,” he added.

The 38-year-old said that after those words from the captain, he started to think about his individual score and a personal milestone. “When your mind suddenly turns to your individual performance, individual score, then somewhere you have a rush of blood. Before that moment, my target was only to chase Sri Lanka’s target. If only that target remained in my mind, maybe, I would have easily scored my hundred,” said Gambhir, who was bowled by Thisara Perera for 97 while attempting a slog.

“Till I was on 97, I was in the present. But as soon as I thought that I am just three runs away from getting a hundred, the rush of blood caused by the desire to get to a hundred took over.

“That’s why it’s important to remain in the present… When I was walking back to the dressing room after being dismissed, I said to myself that these three runs would trouble me for the rest of my life and that is true. Even to this day, people ask me why I couldn’t get those three runs,” Gambhir said.

After Gambhir’s dismissal, Dhoni (91*) knitted a 54-run partnership with Yuvraj Singh to take his team over the line in a memorable World Cup showdown versus Sri Lanka.