“Dhoniiiiiiiiiii……….finishes off in style…..a magnificent strike into the crowd…..India lift the world cup after 28 years….the party starts in the dressing room…and its the Indian Captain who has been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final”.
These were the words of ecstatic Ravi Shastri as MS Dhoni dispatched one into the crowds to win the 2011 World Cup on April 2, 2011.
The captain who was out of the form throughout the tournament stepped out to the middle in the big final and played an astounding inning of 79 balls 91 runs to end the wait and drought of a long 28 years to win the second ODI World Cup.
Over the last couple of days, surprisingly the scorecard of the match has been checked many a times after 9 years of the historic event.
The reason is a former Sri-Lanka leader Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who was serving as sports minister back then in 2011, alleged that the 2011 World Cup final was ‘ sold’.
The allegations have drawn attention of Sri Lanka cricketers who were part of playing XI of that finale.
While the captain of the match Kumar Sangakkara challenged the former minister to produce the ‘evidence’ before ICC, Mahela Jayawardene, who had scored an astonishing and memorable century in the match, said it was just a mere election drama of the Mahindananda Aluthgamage.
What are the Allegations?
Mahindananda Aluthgamage, who along with the then Sri Lanka President Mahinda Rajapaksa was among the guests to witness the historic finale, said the team that played the final was totally different from the team selected and sent off.
“The team who played the final match was not the team we had selected, finalized, and sent off.
At the last moment, without the consultation of either me as the then minister of Sports or officials of the Sri Lanka Cricket Control Board, four new players had been included to the team,” Aluthgamage told Daily Mirror.
The politician however gives clean chit to cricketers but without taking any name he accused ‘some other sections’ for the fixing scandal.
The remarkable First Inning
On the afternoon of April 2, much before the scheduled time, Indian and Sri Lankan fans started to reach the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai to support and cheer their teams in crossing the line which Indians had failed in 2003 and Sri Lankans in 2007 ODI World Cup.
On both the occasions it was the mighty Aussies who crossed onto the other side ended India’s and Sri Lanka’s dream in respective years to be a 2nd time World champion.
After winning a toss for which the coin was flipped twice due to an over enthusiast Mumbai crowd, Sri Lanka captain Kumar Sangakkara decided to bat first.
The decision seemed wrong when Indian bowling spearhead Zaheer Khan bowled three consecutive maiden overs at the start of the inning and made the openers Upul Tharanga and Tillakaratne Dilshan struggle to score runs with Sreesanth at the other end.
When Zaheer Khan in his 4th over and overall 7th over of the Sri Lanka innings removed the first opener Tharanga the chances of Sri Lanka started to dim and got dimmer when Harbhajan in the 16th over of the inning bowled Dilshan with a leg side delivery.
Sri Lankan team was under huge pressure but the veterans of the game Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene took it to them and sailed the team through the troubled situation.
Playing defensively when the things seemed back in the track for Sri Lanka, man with golden arm in 2011 World Cup Yuvraj Singh came into the scene and Kumar Sangakkara had to go back to the dressing room on an individual score of 48 in 67 balls.
The scoreboards read 122/3 in 28 overs which wasn’t that impressive from Sri Lanka perspective but the best thing was that Mahela Jaywardene was still on the crease.
The batting legend then took the charge and started to play aggressively defensive. Scoring runs against the poor deliveries and paying all his respect to the wicket-taking balls, Jayawardene scored an astonishing 88 ball 103 runs and took the scorecard to 274 for 6 which was a ‘tough to chase’ score at a world cup final if not a beyond par one.
The momentous chase
In a pressure game as World Cup final, a target of 275 runs is considered as a target of 300+ runs in general and Sri Lanka pacer Lasith Malinga left no stone unturned to make it difficult for Indian batsmen from very first over of the Indian Innings and went to poach Virender Sehwag’s wicket who till that match had got off the mark with a boundary on the very first ball of all the matches.
But as it happens always, Indian didn’t lose their hope as Sachin Tendulkar was still on the crease with Gautam Gambhir joining him.
With a straight drive which went past the bowler for four and a second boundary two balls later Sachin showed his intent to win the World Cup that he had been dreaming for four world cups.
It was 7th over of the Indian inning and India lost a wicket in very first ball of the over, quite similar to Sri Lanka.
But it was not the same, it was not even similar, it was a totally different ball that silenced billions across the country.
The scorecard noted SR Tendulkar c Sangakkara b Malinga 18 (14) and an eerie silence pervaded the Wankhede.
A not-so experienced and a very young Virat Kohli stepped into the middle to join his fellow state-man Gautam Gambhir to keep the hopes alive for India.
He along with Gambhir made an important and impressive 83 runs before falling to a part-timer Dilshan.
As things began to look gloomy for India one of the greatest cricketing minds MS Dhoni in the side kept the Indian Fans optimistic.
Dhoni, who was out of form throughout the tournament, assessed the situation after Kohli’s wicket and promoted himself up the order before an in-form Yuvraj Singh who was in his sublime form with bat and ball in the tournament.
Gambhir got himself out trying to play a ‘needless short’ as put by Ravi Shastri in the air but had almost done the job for the team and made it India’s game.
Wankhede Crowd applauded the hero who turned the table with a fine knock of 97 runs under immense pressure.
The Final moment
After the wicket of Gambhir fallen, Indian captain took the charge and started hitting the loose balls and rotating strike on difficult ones, shifting the pressure on bowlers and the Sri Lanka captain.
It was 49th over of the game; India needed 5 runs to win.
With not much options available Kumar Sangakkara handed the bowl to Nuwan Kulasekara who had been wicket-less and had conceded 57 runs in 8 overs .
It was first delivery of the over and Yuvraj Singh pushed the ball towards point for a single, making a way for the historical moment.
The second ball of the over, Dhoni on the striker end, took a moment to fix his gloves and inspected the field placement.
Running up Kulasekara made his mind to bowl a length ball to Dhoni, Dhoni waited for the ball calmly and hammered the white Kookaburra out of sight and out of the park to soar it over the fence.
The Ravi Shastri got overjoyed so the Indian team was and the entire country.
Celebrations, tears and everything started on and off the field to enjoy the absolutely entertaining night.
Was the game fixed??
The 100 overs-action in a jam-packed stadium was full of all the drama a cricket match can have.
From playing three consecutive maiden overs to setting a target of 275 runs and then getting the Indian opener in the very first over of the Indian innings, Sri Lanka players tried every possible card to win the match and that points to the fact that the 2011 World Cup final could not have been a scripted event.
It takes a lot effort to reach to the finals of a world cup and fight out till the last over.
Every moment of the game was a resultant of anticipation from the players of both the team and at the end the team who handled the pressure better had won the game.
It was totally a childish behavior of the Sri Lankan politician and former sports minister to disrespect the loyalty of players, selectors and everyone else’ involved in the game just to win an election.
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