“Dhoni goes out with a bang.” What a great shot into the crowd! India has not won the World Cup in 28 years. Even today, every Indian cricket fan recalls Ravi Shastri’s words after MS Dhoni hit a huge six against Sri Lanka pacer Nuwan Kulasekara in the 2011 ICC World Cup final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.
Dhoni not only gave millions of Indians a memory to remember for the rest of their lives with that monster six against Kulasekara, but he also fulfilled the long-held dream of batting legend Sachin Tendulkar, who had almost all of the trophies in his cabinet except the World Cup until then. After 22 years of waiting, Sachin Tendulkar, the “God of Cricket,” finally had his dream of lifting the trophy at his home ground realised on April 2, 2011.
India won its first World Cup under Kapil Dev in 1983, but the team would not win it again until 2011.
India lost only one match in the tournament under Dhoni’s captaincy, to South Africa. India defeated archrival Pakistan in the semi-finals to advance to the final against Sri Lanka.
During the final, the Wankhede looked like a sea of blue, with Indian fans filling every seat in the iconic stadium. The rest of India was glued to their televisions, watching the epic battle.
After setting India a lofty target of 275, Sri Lanka, led by Kumar Sangakkara, appeared to be on track to win their second World Cup. Mahela Jayawardene batted brilliantly, scoring a century and hitting 13 fours in a 103-run innings off only 88 balls.
Fans were emotionally battered during the chase after lanky pacer Lasith Malinga dismissed Tendulkar, leaving India in trouble with the scoreboard reading 31/2 in the sixth over. However, a valiant innings from Gautam Gambhir (97) and an outstanding knock from Dhoni (91*) saved India’s blushes, and the Men in Blue lifted the World Cup trophy for the first time in 28 years. Yuvraj Singh, an elegant all-rounder, was named Player of the Tournament, while MS Dhoni was named Man of the Match.
As soon as the ball left Dhoni’s bat and India went into ecstasy, Tendulkar was seen in tears of joy while hugging Yuvraj, who later revealed that he played the tournament while battling cancer. Tendulkar was carried around the stadium by the entire team on their shoulders.