This Day…Last Year
About this time 6:14pm exactly an year ago, Team India was all set for a tricky chase of 274 against Sri Lanka, stage was CWC 2011 and the World Cup was at stake. Few hours ago on the same afternoon, Sri Lanka won the toss an elected to set a target, this was SL’s second consecutive CWC final appearance and they looked desperate to take home the Cup.
Like all Indian Cricket fansI was full of smiles when SL made a slow start and lost both their openers early. However, the joy was cut short as Sri Lankan batting legends Sangakara and Jayawardena took center stage and played responsibly to steady their team, runs kept flowing, odd wickets fell and the last Ten overs went for plenty as Jayawardena brought up an excellent ODI hundred. Sri Lankan fans went delirious as the last ball of the innings went flying over the square leg boundary, my heart rankled. Is this going to end the 2003 way? Are we going to throw away one more brilliant opportunity to win the Cup? were one of the many demons which cropped up in my head ( I guess most fans would have felt the same ).
Indian Innings started and less than 20 minutes into it, SL was on top, Both Sachin and Viru fell cheaply, my fears were coming true. But, thankfully the team of 2011 was far different from the team of 1996 & 2003. Gambhir in good company of Virat steadied the ship. By the time Virat fell India had gone past the 100 mark and we looked very much in command. And then something happened, something none had expected, Dhoni India’s least successful Batsmen in the WC walked ahead of the most successful player of the WC – Yuvraj. But, during that phase Dhoni was the man with ‘Midas touch’ whatever he did turned into gold. His promotion ahead of Yuraj set stone to one of the finest ODI innings in a CWC final. Gambhir after a patient knock went back attempting a maniacal shot However, by then the target was pretty close.
Yuraj walked in and we all knew nothing can go wrong, from that point onwards every stroke confirmed India’s supremacy in the ODI format, Dhoni’s finished the game in his trademark manner, the moment the ball hit his bat we knew where it was going. India had won the CWC after 28 years and that by far is the biggest sporting tournament India had won in its History.
Truly a great day for sports in India simply because it brought great joy for people of India and sport took center stage. It meant many a kids in future will take to sports ( not just Cricket ) because they now have started to believe we can win at the Biggest stage and this day, last year sealed the deal for us.