Following the loss of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar’s early wickets in their 274 chase against Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final, India steadied the ship through a solid partnership between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir. As Kohli lost his wicket in the 22nd over, everyone was expecting the in-form Yuvraj Singh-who later would be named the man of the tournament -to walk out to bat.
But much to the spectators ‘and opposition’s surprise, instead it was captain MS Dhoni who came out to the middle. The wicketkeeper-batsman hadn’t shown great form going into the final of the World Cup and at the time the decision to promote himself over in-form Yuvraj Singh seemed baffling.
But the move turned out to be a masterstroke and 91 runs were smashed by MS Dhoni to complement Gambhir’s 97 to help India lift the trophy for the second time in history.
Recently, while recalling the World Cup memories, Sachin and Sehwag said moving Dhoni up the order proved to be a key decision.
Tendulkar said, “He was right. Left-right combination needed to continue. That change in strategy completely caught the Sri Lankans off guard.”
The cricketing maestro then added, “There were two quality off-spinners in the attack so a left-hand, right-hand strategy made sense. Gautam was batting brilliantly and someone like Dhoni could’ve kept rotating the strike. So I told Viru, ‘tu overs ke beech mein sirf ye baat bahar jaake MS ko bol aur next over shuru hone se pehle waapis aaja. Main yahan se nahi hilne wala (Just go out into the balcony between the overs only to say this much to MS and come back fast before the next over begins. I’m not moving from here).”
“I asked MS to consider this strategy. He then went to Gary (Kirsten), who was sitting outside. Then Gary came in and all four of us got talking about it. Gary too agreed it was the right thing to do, given the attack on hand. MS also agreed and promoted himself up the order,” Tendulkar concluded.