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The World Cup wait of 28 years – Dhoni finished off in style !

What a day it had been for cricket fans. Two of the Asian giants played in the World cup finals on this day exactly 6 years ago. India started this tournament pretty well. There were some incredible contributions from many Indian players. Be it Virender Sehwag’s 175 against Bangladesh to start the tournament with a win or his five four’s against Umar Gul in the semifinal. Be it Sachin Tendulkar’s blistering two tons. Be it many match winning all-round performance from Yuvraj Singh. Be it Zaheer Khan’s impressive spells throughout the tournament. Indian Team had already entertained their home crowd before this day. After astonishing victories against the mighty Australia in the quarters and their arch-rivals Pakistan in the semi-final, India entered this day with the ‘favourites’ tag.

April 02, 2011.

Wankhede Stadium.

Just imagine the expectations right before the start of this match. From man people sitting in front of their Television sets to people sitting in this beautiful venue with ‘Sachin’ on their cheeks. Almost entire nation were pumped up to to watch this match live. Sachin Tendulkar played his last world cup match. That too, in front of his home crowd. “Will it there be the 100th hundred from the little master which will end his wait of world cup dream” were the thought for many Indians who watched this match live. Muttiah Muralidharan played his last World cup match for Srilanka. Either one of these two legends will be in the winning side at the end of this night. But what the feeling will it be for the other. That’s the cruelty of the sport. India played their world cup final after 2003 World cup to end their wait of 28 years. Srilanka had a fair amount of chance to win this trophy after 1996 World cup. These points are enough to make everyone to go in frenzy before this match had started. Even during the toss, the match referee was not able to listen Kumar Sangakkara’s call when MS Dhoni flipped the coin in their air. That huge roar from less than 35000 people during the toss will tell us that how expectations were getting huge and pressure was building up on the home side.. But, it kept on increased to reach more than 60000 people in this stadium later. Imagine the atmosphere when everyone sang ‘Vande Matram’ at the latter half of the match. Huge isn’t it.

This day was all about the roller coaster ride of emotions. There were many number of highs and lows of emotions occurred in immediate intervals of this game. When Srilanka won the toss and decided to bat first. Almost every Indian cricket fans would had remembered the 2003 World cup finals. Zaheer Khan was not like he was in 2003 World cup final though. He started off brilliantly with three maidens on trot in this final that made Indians to take their game in their way further. And next Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene responded beautifully where many would have bited their nails. That’s how every fan would have experienced the highs and lows of emotions throughout the game. India bowled really well by not leaking runs at any point of time. But, one man played with ease and took the game almost on his shoulders. How we would have reacted to Mahela Jayawardene’s incredible hundred when we watched this match live. When Clive Lloyd scored a century in the 1975 World Cup final and West Indies went onto win their first World cup. When VIV Richards played one of the Incredible knocks ever in the World cup finals by scoring hundred which made West Indies the world champions again in 1979. When Aravinda De Silva scored one of the fighting hundreds in 1996 which made Srilankans the champions. Ricky Ponting against India in 2003. No one could ever forget that hundred if they are an Indian cricket fan. What a ferocious hundred and all aggression written over innings that was. When Adam Gilchrist scored an hundred in 2007 which easily made Australia the champions. That’s how special and the incredible knock that this innings from Mahela Jayawardene was. It was the sixth hundred scored in the World cup finals which helped Srilanka to post the total of 275. No cricket fan could forget this classiest hundreds ever.

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The roar gives us the clear indication that how special this innings was.

In retaliation, India fought really hard to get the game in their control. Gautam Gambir and Virat Kohli played extremely well in that pressure after the wickets of two Indian openers. If Gautam Gambhir would have got the hundred, it would have been considered as ‘One of the best fighting knocks ever’ in the history of World cups or even in the ODI’s. Still it had to be the one of the best fighting knocks considering the emotions were there in the game. His innings and his partnership with Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni set the tone for Indians to chase down the target of 275 later. Gautam Gambhir narrowly escaped twice and scored the valiant 97 in the extreme pressure conditions.

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His commitment was the proof here to give the best to his country.

There were so many emotions going around, huge crowds and great performances from both the sides in this high-octane final. But still every Indian fans couldn’t ever control the two contrasting situations. One of the situation which was not the easiest to digest and the other which made everyone to forget about their world with the joy all-over for a second atleast. In this game with many high’s and low’s emotions were filled completely, these two will always be the most significant moments with so much emotions that one can experience.

31/2 in 6.1 overs.

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Sachin Tendulkar walking back to the pavilion with his head down

Sachin Tendulkar played few delightful shots after the shocking dismissal of VIrender Sehwag and suddenly an edge from his bat. Lasith Malinga was unstoppable at this moment. The way he ran all-over the ground and the way they had celebrated this wicket tells you that Srilankans almost had won the world cup. The favourite bowler of Mumbai Indians picked the wicket of the favourite player of Mumbai Indians in Mumbai. What a moment for Lasith Malinga. Pindrop silence at Wankhede. Almost entire nation would have shellshocked. When Sachin Tendulkar was stumped by Romesh Kaluvithrana in 1996 Semifinals, India lost their wickets like nine falling pins. When Sachin Tendulkar was bowled and caught by Glenn McGrath in the very first over of the Indian innings in 2003 Worldcup finals, we would have experienced immense disappointment with sorrows all-over. The world cup is over for Sachin Tendulkar. There will not be a chance for his 100th hundred in this most exciting contest. Sachin Tendulkar walking back to the pavilion like this will be the most heartbreaking moments ever for every Indian cricket fans.  Even most of the them would have switched off their television sets. The wait of Sachin Tendulkar to lift the penultimate trophy was not in his hands anymore. The GOD himself silently went inside the dressing room and started to pray till that final result. Srilankans flags flying in the Wankhede stands. All of the Srilankan fans were in frenzy at Wankhede. Srilankan dressing room were happy at one side. Look at Indian dressing room, everyone would had a thought that this game was not easier anymore.

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The man who had waited with us to win the world cup for India and to satisfy his dream of world cup was not in his hands anymore. Sachin Tendulkar walking back to pavilion for the one last time World cups.

Of all the drama in between, there came an another moment which was totally contrast to the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar. Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli retaliated India to the total where India had a chance to take this game in their hands further. And Finally, the equation narrowed down to one point which many would have loved than any other moments in this match.

India needs 4 from 11 balls. Mahendra Singh Dhoni on strike.

If we had seen this moment during this match, we can sense how the situation changed . Almost everyone in the stadium were on their feet, crackers started to burst all over the streets of India, Indian dressing room pumped up to witness the winning moments, Virat kohli standing in the balcony to witness the final shot. Entire Indian dugout  waiting near the boundary lines to celebrate. And slowly the camera moves towards the Srilankan dugout. Dilhara fernando started to cry, everyone in the srilankan dressing room were shellshocked to watch the final moments, Muttiah muralitharan on the field, playing his last match shows his disappointment, Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene were in disappointment. Srilanka were in good position to win this match right from the start till Sachin Tendulkar’s or even Virat Kohli’s wicket. But, look how the game had changed over the last thirty overs. And there comes the iconic moment of all time. All the photographers in the stadium were zooming in their cameras to this man. Nuwan Kulasekara runs in to bowl, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s thunderous wallop to the long on is enough to make the entire nation to jump with joy from their places. A six to finish it off in style. One of the iconic moments of all-time. Even if we watch that shot now, we will get the same amount of goosebumps we had that evening.

Dhoni finishes off in style

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The power he generated to hit that six to long on – Dhoni special

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What a moment for Yuvraj Singh

From the most disappointing scenes at Wankhede to the most happiest moment ever for all the indians who had watched the match. When the entire nation was in silence after the Sachin’s wicket, there came a gutsy instinct from Dhoni. He even said in many interviews that after the Sachin’s wicket in 2003 Worldcup final, he stopped watching that match immediately. He knew the pain of Sachin Tendulkar that how he carried the burden for such a long years. When Sachin Tendulkar walked back to the pavilion with his head down, Dhoni decided himself to do something to make sure Sachin with the trophy at the end of that evening. When Muttiah Muralidharan came into bowl, Dhoni decided to padded up immediately, knocked the doors of a room where Gary Kirsten was sitting and he reported with lots of guts that he will promote himself up the order if any wicket goes. Dhoni himself said that he wasn’t sure about his promotion initially. But, the advantage of facing Muralidharan during the Chennai Super Kings practice sessions helped him to back himself with that move. When entire nation were in silence, this man took the responsibilities to promote himself up the order despite of having poor World cup record previously to win the trophy for India. Remember he just had 34 as his highest in World cups and wanted to go ahead of a player having incredible World cup heroics already. That decision by the skipper to walk out to the middle after the wicket of Virat Kohli made everyone surprised and took the game completely away from the opposition. MS Dhoni joined Gautam Gambhir in the middle to have left and right combination which will easily tackle out the spin department of Srilanka. Imagine, if Yuvraj comes to the crease and two left-handers batting against three off spinners and India would have been at huge pressure if there was an wicket at that point, the world cup dreams of India would be in serious bet. The buildup that this game had will tell us that how gutsy this decision was. Taking one of the ‘Mother of all his Masterstrokes’ decision, batted beautifully till the end and finished the match with the iconic six. Totally, the cup was his. It was the MS Dhoni’s night. Being the captain of the side for the past 4 years, strategising the World cup mission and played a spectacular innings on that evening to win the trophy. But look what he did after that shot will tell you how determinant to his goals. Without much celebration, he just removed the bails off and took one stump in his hand which he usually does after winning the match, hugs Yuvraj Singh first and all the Indian players ran towards him and hugged him, Sachin Tendulkar who came running with his long dream accomplished smile hugged MS Dhoni and Dhoni silently enters the dressing room and he was never in the scene for the next few minutes. He just gave away the moment to rest of the players and particularly to the Sachin Tendulkar who had been waiting for so many years. Yuvraj Singh dedicated this World cup victory to Sachin Tendulkar. Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan and every Indian player dedicated this victory to Sachin Tendulkar. Virat Kohli lifted Sachin in his shoulders, came around the ground and shared his dedication by saying “Sachin Tendulkar has carried the burden of nation for 21 years and It was time we carried him”.

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The most beautiful moments of Sachin Tendulkar

Everyone watched these lovely moments would have felt that their childhood dreams had done. Finally, Sachin Tendulkar lifted the trophy which eluded him so many years. What if would have happened when the match referee heard the call of Kumar Sangakkara during the toss at the first time. If India would have won the toss and elected to bat, will it be there an ‘Dhoni finishes off in style’ moment. It was all about the destiny of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. He had finished well in so many matches. But, this finish with the epic commentary lines “Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificient strike into the crowd. India lifts the World cup after 28 years. The party started in the dressing room and it’s been the Indian captain who has been absolutely brilliant in the night of the final” would be the best of his life and it will be etched in our memories throughout our life.

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the best captain I have played with – Sachin Tendulkar. 

“I should go next if any wicket goes” to finishing the match with that six, Mahendra Singh Dhoni had everything to say about his qualities. Personally, from being ‘Mahendra Singh Dhoni fan’, I had changed to ‘Mahendra Singh Dhoni die-hard fan’ on this day exactly 6 years ago.

“Thank You Mahendra Singh Dhoni” will be less to describe his vignettes on this day.

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Ravindra SIR Jadeja – the silent contributor came into limelight.

2016/2017 home season for India was truly a spectacular one. India dominated all the sides right from the start. Apart from Pune’s debacle against aussies, India played really well in different pitches which was spin friendly and even pace & bounce friendly at times. India have won at different venues like kanpur, Kolkata, Indore, Vizag, Mohali, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Dharamshala – This shows how India have really prepared to be the side to beat at home. India had won many matches where opponents have won the toss and posted a 400 plus runs on the board. India never fielded a same side for the consecutive matches. No.1 Test side for a reason.

In this season, Ravichandran Ashwin had been the spin spearhead for India by striking at a rate where no one would have imagined of. Going past Dale Steyn for most number of wickets in a season. Claiming fastest to 20 5fors and fastest to 25 5 fors. Virat Kohli showed his hunger in test arena by hitting four double centuries consecutively which made him to climb up to the 50 plus test batting average. These two were sharing the limelight for most of the matches. But, this series was an exception. India fought really hard without much Ashwin and Kohli contributions. India were in a position where Virat Kohli walking back to pavilion without scoring enough runs, Ravichandran Ashwin trying hard to strike regularly. But not able to pick as like he was in his prime in the series of England or New Zealand. But, there came someone from this side to make their  strong statements. Cheteshwar Pujara came to limelight after long time, KL Rahul scoring  runs at the top, Wriddhiman Saha showed his character and being the silent contributor when needed, Umesh Yadav bowling like perfect test bowler which he must have been proud of.  But to pick someone who have changed this series in favour of India in many possible ways, it should be SIR Ravindra Jadeja.

2nd Test, India desperately wanted to win the second test to get back that winning momentum immediately after the Pune’s debacle. But, they had made only 189 runs on the board in their first innings. Though Ravichandran Ashwin bowled really well, he badly needed someone to pick wickets at the other end since aussies were tackling him extremely well. Ravindra Jadeja supported Ravichandran Ashwin outstandingly and even looked like India’s Spin spearhead at that point. 6/63 to restrict Aussies for 274 in the first innings which gave the momentum they need. Pujara’s and Ashwin’s brilliance in the 2nd innings won that match though.

3rd Test, Crucial 5 wickets when India badly needed wickets at different junctures in 1st innings. Though the resilient partnership from Cheteshwar Pujara and Wriddhiman Saha was the game changer, the much needed quick runs and cleaning up David Warner and a night watchman Nathan Lyon immediately after aussies came to bat for few nervy overs, Jadeja made India to sit comfortably in the driver’s seat. 

4th Test, Kuldeep Yadav’s four, Rahul’s fifty at the top, Saha and Rahane’s contributions and 3 beautiful wickets from Umesh Yadav & Ravichandran Ashwin were the other impressive performances. But, the way  Ravindra Jadeja partnered with Wriddhiman Saha to make India go past 300 gave India a great position to win this series. It would have been great if he had scored a century and swings his bat to celebrate his unique style. He really had that chance though.

Claiming Most wickets in this series – 25 Wickets. Going past Kapil Dev’s all-round brilliance in an home season. Being the No.1 ranked Test Bowler and  No.3 ranked Test All rounder. He was the Only bowler from this Indian side to give brain fade to Top Australian batsman in this series. Though Cheteshwar Pujara proved strongly with his bat, Ravindra Jadeja owned this series in every possible way. Of all the silent contributions with both bat and ball throughout the tournament and often being seconded with his performance, this time he came to the limelight to get Man of the ‘Border-Gavaskar trophy’ series deservingly. 

Seeing all the players growing extremely well over these years and transforming into modern day CHAMPIONS, seeing Ravindra Jadeja’s contributions particularly in test cricket, someone in Ranchi will be happy than anyone else.