April 5, 2011

Dhoni does it for India to recapture crown after 28 years


By Syed Khalid Mahmood

Yes it took close to 28 years for India to repeat their act of winning the Cricket World Cup. They had done so in 1983, having entered the competition as rank outsiders. Now they have done it in 2011 after being installed as pre-tournament favourites.

There is one thing common, however, in the two title triumphs. The role of the captain was significant on both occasions. Kapil Dev had led by example in 1983 and Mahendra Singh Dhoni has proved again in 2011 how much difference could be made by leading from the front.

While Kapil Dev was credited for having inspired his team throughout the event with his terrific all-round performance in that glorious summer of 1983, Dhoni had reserved his best for the final battle.

Kapil Dev was more consistent and resilient. In fact the team rallied around him in all the matches. Dhoni was fortunate to be the leader of an outfit that possessed far more talents and experience than their competitors.

But Dhoni was under no less pressure to deliver because of the media hype and so many non-cricketing factors involved. He was captaining the side alright throughout the tournament but his own batting form was leaving much to be desired.

For someone having been rated as the top ODI batsman in the world only a short while ago the quantum of runs was far too less as the expectations remained very high whenever he went out to bat irrespective of the situation.

India had to chase down a target of 275 in the final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on April 2, after having leaked too many runs in the death overs. It didn’t look a challenging proposition for their star-studded batting line-up with short boundaries and quick outfield offering value for shots.

But there was a hush around the stadium when speedster Lasith Malinga removed both the openers, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, in quick succession to bring Sri Lanka right back into the contest. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir tried to repair the damage but the job was half done when the former departed.

Then Dhoni’s master-stroke came into play. He promoted himself in the batting order and came ahead of left-handed Yuvraj Singh, who has bagged as many as four Man of the Match awards during the competition.

The skipper trusted his own ability to cope with the pressure and came out trumps. He played the innings of his lifetime to ensure that the initiative never slipped out of his team’s hands.

Wasn’t it in the fitness of things that Dhoni himself executed the shot that brought home the World Cup! The winning stroke said it all. The manner in which the Indian captain clobbered Nuwan Kulasekara, a fast bowler, straight over the fence was reflective of his authority and control.

He showed to the world that he was in complete command of the situation. Rather befittingly Dhoni was declared Man of the Match for the innings that decided the fate of the final. He silenced his critics and proved the pseudo-experts horribly wrong with the power of his bat.

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