The sense of euphoria and elation that has engulfed the whole of India after MS Dhoni lifted the ICC World Cup is all encompassing, all pervasive. The man on the street, the corporate honcho, the young professional and the budding sportsperson have all taken heart from the momentous victory and realised that life is not as impossible as it seems. The people of India are grateful to the men in blue for having uplifted the national mood so emphatically!
How did Team India accomplish this monumental task? Here are the top seven reasons why India won the Cup-
- 1. Unshakeable Team Spirit- Indian teams of the past have often had internal fissures to deal with. India has had many great cricketers but the results have not always been commensurate with available talent. The present team has, however, gelled magnificently under the leadership of Dhoni. The performances during the World Cup were replete with instances when team-work won the day for India. Super stars like Sachin Tendulkar and Zaheer Khan could often be seen egging on new players like Virat Kohli and Munaf Patel. The team seemed totally focussed on winning the Cup and they did just that.
- 2. Experience and youth combined brilliantly- Unlike Australia which lost several experienced players at one go India has managed to retain a team that combines the talents of older and younger players superbly. Tendulkar’s unbridled enthusiasm at the age of 38 rubbed off on the whole team, no doubt, and the youngsters looked up to him and other seniors for advice and inspiration at key moments. Virender Sehwag, Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer and Harbhajan Singh too brought with them maturity and capability, while younger stars like Gautam Gambhir, Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli provided the spark that the team needed.
- 3. Captain courageous- MS Dhoni has changed the way Indian cricket is played and may even leave an indelible mark on the world stage before he is done. His unflappable style as captain goes well with his efficient wicket-keeping and innovative batsmanship to make him one of the most valuable players in world cricket. His tour-de-force innings in the Cup final, in the face of a stiff target after India had wobbled, would long be remembered. He struck the retiring Muthiah Muralidharan for many a four and then upped the ante against Nuwan Kulasekera brilliantly. His selection of S. Sreesanth over R. Ashwin was criticised but he stuck to his guns.
- 4. Tendulkar times continue- Our generation and the ones before and after us have been fortunate to witness Tendulkar at his very best. The fact that he has batted at such a sublime level for over two decades is astonishing! Generations to come would not believe that a player wielded the willow to such perfection for so long. In this tournament he ended up as the second highest scorer after T. Dilshan. His half centuries against Australia and Pakistan in the knockout stage were crucial. He fell to the speedy Lasith Malinga in the final when looking good, but he will cherish the feeling, of holding the World Cup aloft, forever.
- 5. Zak attack- Zaheer Khan (‘Zak’ to his team mates) shouldered the burden of India’s bowling almost single-handedly and came up with 21 wickets to finish as the Cup’s joint highest wicket taker alongside Shahid Afridi. Time after time he gave India the edge after scalping key opposition batsmen during his opening spells and later too. In the final he started off with three maidens and although he suffered at the hands of the later order Sri Lankan batsmen, his opening spell pegged back the Lankans a great deal.
- 6. Yuvraj on song- Before the World Cup began Yuvraj Singh was not in the best of form and had been through a rough patch. He raised his game by several notches once the tournament began though, and the runs started to flow. His bowling too was so dependable that Dhoni could use him as the fifth bowler without hesitation. Yuvraj picked up wickets in each match and in the final he had Kumar Sangakarra caught by Dhoni to tilt the match in India’s favour. His fielding too, especially in the final, was akin to his younger days and he dived around with alacrity. That he won the Man of the Tournament award and 4 Man of the Match awards indicates how vital Yuvraj was to India’s success.
- 7. Self-Belief Unparalleled- Players like Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan and R. Ashwin who did not figure in all the matches did not display any nerves despite the high pressure nature of the World Cup. Each Indian player, from the amazing Sehwag to the doughty Harbhajan played his part with grit and tenacity. No quarter was given to rival teams without a fight. The Indians fielded so well in the knockout stages that they were virtually unrecognizable. The self-belief that they can win from any situation translated into success after success, never more so than in the grand finale against the very tough Sri Lankans.