I knew it is going to be longer one than any other posts that I have posted in my blog, when I thought of writing a summary post for Indian campaign in Cricket World Cup 2011. There were so many upsets, turn-downs, break-throughs throughout the tournament, and team India had tackled hard games and great pressures to reach finals and clinch the title after 28 years. It is the collective result of Cool Captaincy, Team Performance, Hard Experiences together. This Indian team is not so familiar, though they were still dependent on their batting, I could watch a more secure India, which comprised young Indians who can handle the home pressure and experienced men who can lead the team all through the tournament. They got compliments which they deserved from Ricky Ponting, Shahid Afridi and even Kumar Sangakkara after each knock-out games they had dodged and stormed in. I had been waiting for 43 days to make a binary post on CWC'11, and it is a 1 over 0 for me now. We will go from match 1...
The tournament started with a flashy drive to boundary from the trusted Virender Sehwag against the Bangladesh. It was all blitzkrieg as it was the first revenge game for Team India against Bangladesh who smashed the world cup dreams in 2007. But the opponents were grit on chasing the huge target 371 and fell short of only 87 runs. Once again Indian bowling was poor I could say, which was recovered massively later in the tournament.
Second match for India was against the English, who were one of the predicted contenders India had faced. But the match was a zig-zag. It seemed to be in favor of either team in sharp moments. Much of turnarounds happened and the result was an achievement - a tie, and the credit goes to Zaheer and Shahzad.
Next two matches were against the Minnows Ireland and Netherlands, who performed well against the English, but failed to make an impression against the hosts as India won both matches by 5 wickets.
It was against the mighty proteas the team India lost their tails and so nerves. Losing 9 wickets for 29 runs, after being in a position of 267-1 with Sachin on crease, is really horrible. They couldn't even make it to a 300 as Steyn stroke through the middle and tail, and stormed to a 5 wicket haul. 296 was a below par total for the South African batting line up but the match was lost by only three wickets and two balls left. Disappointed but not so much. Literally this loss helped as a booster to team India.
Final group stage match was against Windies, and this was the first all bowling match of the tournament for team India. Chasing a total of 269 and being in a position of 154-2 will really put any opponent under immense pressure, but the young Indian Bowling attack with Ashwin and Zaheer from front dodged the dreams of West Indies to storm in to knock out with a smash, and it was team India which flashed into the knock-outs with a victory margin of 80.
And the party began from here for India. They were to play against their old rivals of 2003 finals - the current champions then - Australia. Real domination of spin had begun. Ashwin was amazing throughout the game with 8 power play overs and the penultimate over, had just given an economy of 5.2 and taken 2 important wickets. Unlike the 2003 final, this time century of Ponting had gone in vain as the Yuvraj and Raina lead the team India to victory and it was all chaos for Ricky. During press meet he accepted India as a better team and favored it to win the semi-finals against Pakistan, who stopped the Australian winning streak earlier. Thus the Australians retired from the World Cup Domination after 12 years.
Semi Final - The Clash of Titans
It was the most awaited match than the final as India and Pakistan met in Mohali. This time it was not really a prestige game, but a pressure game. But the players from both the sides shown extreme game spirit, and Afridi, far better than what he had been as a youngster with tensions and emotions, had shown how a captain should behave. Once again it was India beat Pakistan in a World Cup match, but no more shout against the latter as they played extremely well and the only person blamed was Misbah who had been on crease for long time without scoring enough runs to match the Indians. In reality, India bowled well against him and he couldn't do much against the mightier.
Final - The Fairy Tale Ending
April 2, 2011 - the day which will be remembered the most. Indian President Devi Prathiba Patil and Sri Lankan President Rajapakse, Bollywood stars, Kollywood King Super Star Rajnikanth, Rahul Gandhi, and so on till the list ends' present at the New Wankhede Stadium was just like a Who's Who. Immense pressure on both sides. Srilanka had stormed in the finals with classy victories in group matches and knock-outs against England and New Zealand. Dilshan, Sangakkara, Tharanga, Malinga and the Champion Murali playing his last ODI made a powerful combination for the previous 43 days which literally gave no chance for the middle order to feel any pressure. Indian side had been playing all pressure games and their confidence lied on control over their play. No more reckoning first over from Zaheer, remarkable maiden indeed. Bowling three consecutive maidens and taking the wicket of a well established opener of the tournament was another pearl added to the mighty Zaheer's crown. But in the end of the innings it was all splattered over boundaries for the century maker Jayawardene and long shots from the finisher Perera. Sri Lankans all together got a much more defendable total of 274, which is also possible to be chased down.
Indian innings started with a big collapse of Viru off the second ball of the innings, followed by Sachin's caught behind wicket. Then came the Kolkata nightmare pair, Gauti and Kohli who stabilized the innings, and Kohli departed of a flier catch from Dilshan. Captain Dhoni brings himself up in the order and gave a sensational partnership with Gautam, who departed 3 short of a glorious century. Finally Dhoni comes back to form and ended the tournament with a straight six. THE CUP WAS WON!!! CWC'11 started with a four of Sehwag, ended with a six from Dhoni.
Dhoni adjudged man of the match and Yuvraj Singh was given the Player of the Series award. Captain lifts the cup and the other team members carried the Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar around the stadium with much joy. This little man really deserves to carry the World Cup and the Cup itself deserves to be carried by Sachin. The big Indians refuse to be beaten and shown their extreme ability and nerves to clinch the Cup. The greatest moment was when the fans could see their favorites weep - Tears of joy around Wankhede - fantasy ending as a fairy tale.