On This Day: Thirteen years ago, India won the World Cup, realising the dreams of over a billion people

The timeless wisdom of Ravi Shastri turns 13. Thirteen is the year when the dreams of over a billion people come true. The day finally arrived on a Saturday night, April 2, 2011, the day the nation had been yearning for since that glorious day in 1983. The World Cup was Sachin Tendulkar’s only source of inspiration and his ultimate goal. When Tendulkar was younger, he referred to the 1983 World Cup as the “turning point of my life” after seeing India triumph.

Yes, it was. At the location where he played the majority of his domestic cricket, The Wankhede, the Master Blaster—who broke every record throughout his career—finally experienced the one obvious missing piece of happiness. The narrative of Yuvraj Singh is also something to be treasured. Despite facing health challenges throughout the competition due to his disease, he managed to emerge as India’s most promising player in the world championship.

India had a formidable squad, but its ascent to the top of the globe was fueled by a three-year strategy that was adhered to.

A momentous day in Indian cricket history.
The Men in Blue’s tournament performance was almost flawless. They tied and only lost one game. Apart from these two, they were scorching. On February 19, Virender Sehwag reminded everyone of his batting skills and a young Virat Kohli showed flashes of what he would be next as MS Dhoni’s team won their first match against Bangladesh. The Men in Blue amassed a massive 370/4 against the side, and both players scored a century. This was crucial to India’s early elimination from the 2007 World Cup.

Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh bowled well, and it was enough to wrap up the Bangla Tigers for 283.

The caravan continued its progress and experienced some nervousness when the Proteas ended the undefeated streak in Nagpur with a narrow three-wicket victory to chase 297 and when England equaled the high-scoring frenzy of 338 each in Bengaluru.

Australia, the three-time reigning champions, were India’s quarterfinal opponent, and they thoroughly outplayed the Indians. Their archrival, Ricky Ponting, who also suffered a major blow in the 2003 final, scored a century as they put up a solid 260. But this time, the group had enough to get over the significant obstacle. The top-order fifties were achieved by Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar, but the co-hosts were in danger at 187/5 and still needed 74 more runs.

Then, as India once again dreamed, two left-handers, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina, stood up and strode through the game to end it with an uninterrupted stand of exactly 74.

Pakistan, the arch-rivals, came next. When the prime ministers of India and Pakistan are present, an India-Pakistan match is usually intensely competitive and a significant occasion. Sachin Tendulkar reached 85 after overcoming many opportunities. The Men in Blue scored a solid 260/9, paced by 36 from Suresh Raina.

In the end, it was sufficient. Misbah-ul-Haq played a solid hand of 56 but it was much too much in front of the Indian bowlers. Misbah-ul-Haq was the player who got Pakistan within a whisker of winning the 2007 T20 World Cup against India. Each of Yuvraj Singh, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh claimed two wickets. With a victory margin of 29 runs, the Indians advanced to the World Cup within striking reach.

With players like Tillakaratne Dilshan, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lasith Malinga, and Muthiah Muralitharan being blatant match winners, Sri Lanka was much stronger than it is now. The experienced Jayawardene’s century and Thisara Perera’s late pyrotechnics propelled the Lankans to 274/6. Fifty overs later, the winner had to be declared.

Malinga claimed the wickets of Sehwag and Sachin early on for India, but an 83-run partnership between Gambhir and Kohli steadied the ship. This was a much-needed wicket after two early falls. The skipper, MS Dhoni, who had until that point had had a lacklustre campaign, also made a remarkable knock, while Gambhir played the innings of his life. Together, they scored 109 runs and almost won the match. But Gambhir’s tonne fell short by three. When Dhoni teamed up with Yuvraj Singh, the moment everyone had been waiting for finally arrived: “Dhoni finishes off in style.”

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