Doing it for Tendulkar

Yuvraj Singh's (with the man of the tournament trophy) contribution as a left-arm spinner was a key factor in the team winning the cup. His all-round brilliance carried the team forward and turned out to be a significant feature in India's World Cup campaign.-PTI Yuvraj Singh's (with the man of the tournament trophy) contribution as a left-arm spinner was a key factor in the team winning the cup. His all-round brilliance carried the team forward and turned out to be a significant feature in India's World Cup campaign.

It had been a well-contested World Cup with the teams that showed consistency in all departments playing in the title round. By Harbhajan Singh.

I was barely three years old when Kapil Dev and his team made history at Lord’s. To have been able to emulate the achievement of that team of 1983, led by the dynamic Kapil paaji, is so close to the heart of every member of the 2011 team. It was a dream combination, and I was so fortunate to be a part of it.

It was a wonderful time for Indian cricket the night we won the World Cup in Mumbai. Every sportsman dreams of winning the World Cup in his discipline. An Olympic medal or a world crown is what you compete for.

When I started playing cricket, I obviously dreamt of representing the country, of winning the World Cup. We came close to winning it in 2003 in South Africa, but Ricky Ponting stopped us at the Wanderers. The 2007 edition was a forgettable experience, and that was the reason why we were geared up to win the Cup in 2011.

There was another reason that drove the team to the pinnacle of one-day cricket. It is well known that Sachin Tendulkar was fiercely focused to win it, and we were equally determined too. We wanted to win it for Sachin too because this was going to be his farewell World Cup, and I know how he had so passionately dreamt of this one trophy that had eluded him since 1992 when he figured in the World Cup for the first time.

It was a long-drawn tournament (February 19-April 2). The tournament had returned to the sub-continent for the third time, with Sri Lanka and Bangladesh as co-hosts with India. I must say it was a superbly organised World Cup, and none had any complaints.

Playing at home had its advantages and disadvantages too. The pressure had mounted with every match, and I can tell you that the players had resolved to be at their best. There was not a moment for us to relax and it helped that all of us could contribute at crucial stages of the tournament, especially when the team needed it. We lost only to South Africa in the group stage and played an exciting tied match with England in Bangalore.

We worked up a winning combination with the seniors and juniors coming together and creating a strong force. Among the matches we won, the semi-final against Pakistan in Mohali was the most memorable one. There was huge pressure on the eve of the match with the entire nation backing us to win. We had never lost to Pakistan in the World Cup and we maintained that record with a terrific win. It was watched by our Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his counterpart from Pakistan.

The innings that Sachin produced in the semi-final spoke of his determination. He had luck on his side too, but then you sometimes need luck to realise your dreams.

We won a tight match against Pakistan and that really helped when we travelled to Mumbai for the final against Sri Lanka, which came through with a comfortable win over New Zealand in the other semi-final.

It had been a well-contested World Cup with the teams that showed consistency in all departments playing in the title round. The Wankhede Stadium was one amazing theatre of colour and excitement, and this was the stage I had dreamt of. We won a great match against a strong opposition. As Sachin rejoiced and we did a lap of the stadium, I remembered the efforts of my good friend Yuvraj Singh.

As it transpired later, Yuvraj had played the tournament in pain and what made his effort great was the fact that he kept his pain to himself. His contribution as a left-arm spinner was a key factor in the team winning the Cup. His all-round brilliance carried the team forward and turned out to be a significant feature in India’s World Cup campaign.

As told to Vijay Lokapally