What is common between Mohinder Amarnath and MS Dhoni? Besides being legends of Indian cricket, both are responsible for bringing plenty of joy to Indian sport and cricket fans with their final act to lift the 50-over World Cup. To be fair, Kapil Dev also deserves credit for the first instance for it was a catch taken by him that would go down in history and be etched in everyone’s memory. But it was eight years back, on this day, that Dhoni ended India’s 28-year wait for glory at the grandest stage of them all. To make things better, it came in front of home crowd and checked a box, rather the only box left, for Sachin Tendulkar.
Like Kapil, another captain – MS Dhoni – was at the epicenter of this remarkable win to end India’s drought and a thundering six over long-on to Nuwan Kulasekara, with ten balls to spare, at the Wankhede Stadium sent everyone around the country and millions abroad into frenzy. The contest and the win in itself became a sign that this side could topple the best of teams. Dhoni’s innings was a clear indicator of that. While he may not be as revered with his match finishes anymore, a long-haired Dhoni, then, denied Sri Lanka a chance at ending their own 15-year wait for World Cup glory.
Harbhajan Singh also reflected on the win by calling it “the best day of my life”.
India had made a poor start to the 277 run chase after losing Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar inside the first seven overs. But Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir stitched a 109 run stand to take India towards the finishing line. Dhoni’s 91 runs from 79 balls played a key role in the chase even as Gambhir left the middle on 97 from 122 balls. With the final lift of the bat and heave over the in-field, the nation errupted in combined euphoria.
The win and the title was even more special for Tendulkar who could finally call himself a ‘World Cup champion’. For near two decades prior, India turned to him to get the team out of a sticky situation but as Gambhir, Virat Kohli and Dhoni all played a key role, the baton had passed. The Master Blaster knew this was his last chance at World Cup glory especially after India were thrashed away from the 2007 event and Tendulkar had considered retirement. “That [winning the World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium] was my dream after we lost in 2007. I said, the next World Cup is in Mumbai and this is where I would want the trophy,” Tendulkar had said. But despite being dismissed for 18, Tendulkar went on to taste success and hoisted on the shoulder by his teammates while whirling the tricolour above his head.
In the wee hours of the night, the scenes were the same throughout the country – be it the national capital or the financial capital. Everyone celebrated, everyone hugged the other, everyone screamed in unision, everyone came out and blared their car horns to leave the streets packed with the tricolour the common theme – be it Connaught Place in the heart of Delhi or Marine Drive in Mumbai.
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