Slaying a 28-year-old ghost
Dhoni’s boys conquered the world
ADNAN ABIDI/REU TERS
or cricket-obsessed Indians across the globe, 2011
was about an unforgettable triumph.
The biggest high, obviously, was India’s win
over Sri Lanka in the final of the International
Cricket Council World Cup at Mumbai’s
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who had led India to the inau-
gural World T20 title in 2007, was the hero again, promot-
ing himself up the order and ensuring his team home with
That sweet euphoria was peppered with bitter reality in
the second half of the year, when in a much-hyped tour of
England, Team India was thrashed 4-0. It was India’s first
whitewash in 11 years, since a Sachin Tendulkar-led team
lost 0-3 to Australia.
Dhoni’s boys bounced back in the home series against
2010 had ended on a high note for India, with the team
securing its first-ever Test victory in
Kingsmead, Durban, South Africa. 2011
began on a good note, with Team India hold-
ing onto a draw in the third and final Test in
Newlands, Cape Town. It was the first time in
its cricketing history that India had drawn a
Test series in South Africa.
In the one day series, South Africa edged out
India 3-2, despite the visitors leading 2-1 at
Going into the opening match of cricket’s
flagship tournament — against co-hosts
Bangladesh at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium in
Mirpur, Bangladesh — there was a lot of pres-
sure on India. Bangladesh had played a cru-
cial part in India’s early exit from the 2007 World Cup.
Thus, the opener was labeled a ‘revenge’ fixture. Besides, it
was the only match in the tournament that Team India was
playing away from home. Virender Sehwag took over,
smashing a 140-ball 175. Virat Kohli contributed with an
unbeaten 100 as Team India piled up a mammoth 370-4.
First mission accomplished.
But India struggled in subsequent matches. The second
match, against England, ended in a tie. The subsequent
India's players celebrate after India won the ICC
cricket World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai,
April 2, 2011
two matches had India securing not so con-
vincing wins against minnows Ireland and
The Netherlands. And then came a shatter-
ing defeat against South Africa in Nagpur.
Just when it seemed this team was not
good enough to go all the way, Team India
got its act together. It registered a compre-
hensive win over West Indies in the final
group match in Chennai. In the quarter-final
in Motera, Ahmedabad, Dhoni’s boys upset
defending champions Australia. The con-
vincing win — with 14 balls to spare — estab-
lished Team India as the firm favorites for the title.
The much hyped and highly anticipated semi-final
against Pakistan was a damp squib, with Team India win-
The stage was set for Dhoni’s Boys to emulate Kapil’s
An unbeaten 103 by Mahela Jayawardene helped Sri