World Cup 2011: When MS Dhoni promoted himself into the history books of Indian cricket
MS Dhoni’s promotion to No. 5 among the most celebrated decisions in Indian cricketv
Dhoni smashed 91 from 79 balls and hit the winning six in the final
Dhoni’s tactic to negate Sri Lankan spin threat proved to be a masterstroke
On April 2, 2011, India’s 28-year-long wait for their 2nd World Cup title came to an end at the Wankhede Stadium. While Kapil’s Devils won the coveted trophy in 1983 to kick off a cricket revolution in the country, the Asian giants established themselves as the powerhouses of world cricket after the memorable night in Mumbai.
Since 1983, India went on to win several global titles, which includes the World Championship of Cricket and the ICC Champions Trophy, but another World Cup title remained elusive. India produced some of the finest cricketers who changed the landscape of world cricket during the period and some of them came agonisingly close to the world title only to miss out on it.
Take the 2003 World Cup for example. India had a star-studded line-up that was led by Sourav Ganguly. Ganguly’s men played outstanding cricket throughout the tournament in South Africa only to be outplayed by an unbeatable Australian side in the final.
However, in 2011, it all went India’s way. Under a charismatic leader in MS Dhoni who was known for his cricketing acumen, India delivered when it mattered the most.
Dhoni had shown signs of his tactical brilliance on multiple occasions before the 2011 World Cup. The decision to bowl a rookie medium pacer instead of an experienced spinner in the T20 World Cup 2007 final against Pakistan is a brave gamble that worked in India’s favour.
Dhoni’s decision to promote himself higher-up the order in the World Cup 2011 final is among the most celebrated decision in the history of Indian cricket.
This day in 2011
Watch the highlights of the epic 2011 World Cup final and relive the memories here https://t.co/qKuPoMeblY pic.twitter.com/C0apY6tqx0
BCCI (@BCCI) April 2, 2020
Chasing 275, India got off to a horror start, losing Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early to Lasith Malinga. However, Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli, who walked in at No. 4, steadied the ship and added 83 crucial runs.
Just when things were going in India’s favour, Virat Kohli walked back to the pavilion after a stunning return catch from part-timer Tilakaratne Dilshan.
MS Dhoni negates spin threat after promotion to No. 5
Much to the surprise of quite a few, it was MS Dhoni who walked out to bat at No. 5 ahead of an in-form Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina. The two left-handers had had a productive campaign and Dhoni was not in the best of his forms, having scored just 150 runs in the lead up to the final.
However, Dhoni looked in control from the word go. He took on Muttiah Muralitharan, by hitting the legendary off-spinner off the backfoot predominantly. Dhoni was at ease against Suraj Randiv.
When Sri Lanka were looking to unleash their off-spinners on the two Indian left-handers, Dhoni’s arrival worked against their plans. The India skipper made sure Sri Lanka went back to their pacers and the spin threat was negated.
Shedding light on the decision later, Dhoni said he got the backing of the seniors to promote himself in the big final. He said he wanted to deal with the Sri Lankan off-spinners all by himself. It was a risky decision but Dhoni had the confidence in himself.
The Dhoni computer was at it again. Despite the pressure situation, it did its job without stuttering.
Despite losing Gautam Gambhir for 97, India were never really in a spot of bother since the time Dhoni walked into the middle. He walked off only after getting the job done, only after hitting the winning six that is etched in the memories of cricket fans.