2011 World Cup final: 'Captain cool' Dhoni calls the shots

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian skipper, was the nation’s toast with his outstanding captaincy and a 79-ball explosive unbeaten 91; a tournament clinching blitz.

Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni poses with the Man of the Match award and the ICC Cricket World Cup near the Gateway of India on April 3, 2011, a day after India had bagged the World Cup for the first time since 1983 with a six-wicket victory over Sri Lanka.   -  AFP

It was a night of wild celebrations in Mumbai, people were out on the streets and the sidewalks. Countless Indian supporters were singing, dancing and chanting the names of their heroes.

Almost all the cars of the city were on the roads and the sound of non-stop honking that filled the night air was an expression of limitless joy.

Mumbai was swinging to the rhythm of the victorious beats of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Dashers. After all, India had finally regained the ICC World Cup after Kapil’s Devils stunned the world in England in 1983.

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India had broken through a barrier after years of agony and heartbreaks. The year was 2011, date April 2, and venue Wankhede Stadium.

And the skipper was the nation’s toast with his outstanding captaincy and a 79-ball explosive unbeaten 91; a tournament clinching blitz.

M. S. Dhoni’s winning blow, a typically wristy and power-packed six over widish long-on off a fuller length ball from the hapless Nuwan Kulasekara, concluded the contest. What a way to bring about a triumph!

The ball landed among the spectators. Remarkably calm, Dhoni smiled and then rushed to pick a stump as souvenir. And a nation erupted.

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Dhoni was the man of the moment and the final. The skipper had shown the way, been the inspiration along with maestro Sachin Tendulkar in his last World Cup.

And here was a captain willing to make his moves, prepared to gamble. It was brave of Dhoni to promote himself to No. 5, ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh.

India, pursuing a challenging 275 in a Cup final, had been off to a disastrous start with the big guns Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag perishing to that sizzling slinger Lasith Malinga.

Virat Kohli offered some resistance with the fluent Gautam Gambhir before Dhoni and the left-handed opener took the game away from Sri Lanka.

Dhoni, nerveless on the big stage and relishing the challenge, pounded the Sri Lankan bowling and some of his cover drives and whips were bludgeoned than stroked.

The skipper shone bright under the lights. And then he held aloft the Cup. Dhoni was the real deal.