The poise and panache with which Team India lifted the ICC World Cup 2011 was nothing short of sensational. The victory brought instant joy and ecstasy to the whole country.
A team which was rightly billed as the pre-tournament favourite would not have been expected to make its exit before the semi-finals for sure, but very few would have been convinced that they would actually win the Cup, and that too on home soil.
The pressure was monumental, and the likelihood of India winning the World Cup on home territory not very high despite the favourites tag, given the fact that no host had ever won the Cup in 9 previous editions.
MS Dhoni’s team has turned out to be a path-breaker in many ways though. They not only bagged the trophy on home soil but also chased down the highest ever total in the final.
The manner in which Dhoni in particular took on the might of the Sri Lankan bowling after India was precariously placed to start with during the chase, was magnificent to say the least.
Gautam Gambhir too shone on the big stage by raising his game after the loss of the two icons, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar.
Throughout the tournament, especially in the knockout stage, the remarkable spirit of Team India stood out. Gary Kirsten and Dhoni have undoubtedly brought out the best from the unit, and unlike many Indian teams of the past which flattered to deceive, this team knows no boundaries, except those on the ground!
Yuvraj Singh was another hero of the tournament, with his 4 Man of the Match awards and his Man of the Tournament prize. He batted superbly, against Australia in particular, and bowled efficiently in each match, picking up crucial wickets.
Sachin Tendulkar ended up just 18 runs shy of becoming the highest run- getter in the Cup, and thus narrowly missed a feat that he had achieved twice before at this, the biggest stage of them all. He hit two centuries against England and South Africa and followed these with fighting half centuries in the Quarters and Semis. His run spree meant that he had done his bit to propel India towards the trophy that meant so much to him.
Sehwag was in cracking form throughout too, except in the final when Lasith Malinga bagged him and Tendulkar so early. Significant contributions also came from Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina in the middle order.
Zaheer Khan led the bowling attack so magnificently that the absence of any real support in the pace department was not noticed much. Munaf Patel and Ashish nehra did have their own moments though, none more so than their magnificent spells in the semi-final against Pakistan at Mohali.
Harbhajan Singh was quietly efficient and picked up crucial wickets in the semis and he got Dilshan in the final. Ashwin impressed in the limited opportunities that he got and is clearly one for the future. Piyush Chawla was off colour and would have to do much better when he turns out for India again.
The similarities with the 1983 win are apparent. Both sides had enigmatic, innovative, skippers. Both sides depended on team work rather than individual brilliance.
The contrast this time was that India were favoured to win, while in 1983 they were rank outsiders. Dhoni’s captaincy may not have been based on sheer inspiration as was Kapil’s but he was able to take risks and back them with results when it mattered!
Team India now stands perched on the top of the cricketing world. Surely it is only a matter of time before they lead the ICC ODI rankings to add to their numero uno Test match status.
For Indian cricket fans, times could not have been better!