Team India boasts of two World Cup titles, one from 1983 and the most recent one in 2011. However, prior to 1983, India made a very slow start to the World Cup in 1975 and 1979. In fact, till the early 1980s, the Indian team found it tough to win ODI matches with just two wins from 11 matches.
In the 1975 Prudential World Cup, India went in with almost no experience of ODI cricket, and all they had to show for their efforts was a win over the part-time cricketers from East Africa.
In 1979, they lost all their three group matches, including a loss against Sri Lanka, the only team as part of the associate members of the International Cricket Council (ICC) at that time. Hence, it was quite a surprise when India clinched the title in 1983 after defeating the hot favorites West Indies. Since then, they have become a powerhouse in world cricket, finishing as the runners-up in 2003 and clinching their second title in 2011.
The Indian players have produced some stellar performances through most of the World Cup tournaments. Kapil Dev and Mohinder Amarnath were the stars in 1983, while MS Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh stole the show in the 2011 World Cup.
Riding on the back of the stellar form of the top three batsmen and a formidable bowling attack, India start the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup as one of the favourites for winning the tournament.
Here, we recount some of the golden moments in India's World Cup journey.
#1 The stunning defeat of reigning champions West Indies in the opening encounter in 1983
Two-time champions West Indies had never lost a match in the World Cup while India had won only one of their six matches - against East Africa eight years earlier - and had finished last in their group in the previous edition of the World Cup.
The other known parameter was the wet Manchester weather and, true to form, early morning rain delayed the start. Predictably, the West Indies had India in trouble. At 141 for five it seemed like a familiar story. The gritty Yashpal Sharma batted with a tremendous application, and in the company of Roger Binny put on 73 priceless runs for the sixth wicket.
Yashpal's 89 off 120 deliveries inclusive of nine fours was perhaps the innings of his life. At 262 for eight in their 60 overs, India had a total good enough to stretch the champions. A customary rousing start was but a mirage on this occasion. Both Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes fell on either side of the half-century mark.
At stumps, the score read 67 for two, with 22 overs already bowled. When play resumed the next morning, the asking-rate was well above five-an-over. With a keen tussle on, India were jubilant as the mighty Vivian Richards was taken behind by Syed Kirmani off Binny in the second over of the day.
The West Indies were already on the back foot and consistent wickets saw them staring down the barrel at 157-9 with 106 runs still required. Andy Roberts and Joel Garner dug in and, as the score mounted. However, Ravi Shastri enticed Garner out of the crease and Kirmani dislodged the bails as India registered a famous 34-run win.
Also read - Cricket World cup winners captains list
#2 Mohinder Amarnath’s man-of-the-match performances in the semi-final and final of 1983 World Cup
India had done well to reach the semi-finals but the hosts England were expected to beat them. Graeme Fowler and Chris Tavare started well, putting up an opening stand of 69 before Roger Binny dismissed both. Kapil Dev then turned to the gentle slow-medium of Mohinder Amarnath who had David Gower caught behind by Syed Kirmani.
After Allan Lamb was run out, Amarnath castled Mike Gatting as England were 150 for five, and eventually were bowled out for 213 off the last ball of their 60th over. Amarnath finished with two wickets for 27 in his 12 overs.
Sunil Gavaskar and Krishnamachari Srikkanth put on 46 but, both fell within four runs of each other's wicket. Amarnath and Yashpal Sharma added a splendid 92-run stand before the former was run out for 46 but won the 'Man of the Match' award for leading India to a six-wicket victory.
The final began on a poor note for India as Sunil Gavaskar fished at one from Andy Roberts and was gone early. Mohinder Amarnath joined Krishnamachari Srikkanth and they put on 57 for the second wicket. Amarnath was comprehensively bowled by Michael Holding for 27 and soon India was shot out for 183 in 54.4 overs.
There was a sensational start to the West Indies innings for India as Gordon Greenidge shouldered arms to an incoming delivery from Sandhu and was bowled for one. The imperious Vivian Richards batted like the monarch that he often was at the crease and just when he seemed to have decimated the Indian attack, he skied a Madan Lal delivery high over mid-wicket.
Kapil Dev turned and ran after the ball and clung on to the catch. Wickets began to tumble but Jeff Dujon and Malcolm Marshall tried to make a match of it. Then Amarnath struck, with Dujon chopping on to his stumps and Marshall being snapped up by Gavaskar in the slips. Not long after, Amarnath trapped Michael Holding leg-before as India clinched the World Cup, with Amarnath registering figures of 3/12 from his seven overs, and winning the Man of the Match award again.
#3 Kapil Dev’s brilliant show in the 1983 World Cup
The third edition of the World Cup opened on a positive note for India as they defeated West Indies by 34 runs in the opening game. After a comfortable win against Zimbabwe, India lost to Australia in a game where Kapil Dev's 5/43 stood out.
He took two catches, one of them off his own bowling. With the bat, Dev steadied the Indian ship after the score was on 66/6 as his 27-ball 40, laced with two fours and a six was yet another standout.
In the reverse encounter, the mighty West Indies were seeking revenge and duly got it. Kapil scored a fighting 36 and shared a gritty half-century stand with Mohinder Amarnath not long after Dilip Vengsarkar was hit a sickening blow on the face by Malcolm Marshall.
Zimbabwe blew away the top of the Indian batting and left them tottering at 17/5. Kapil Dev launched one of the most ferocious assaults imaginable. He put on 60 for the 6th wicket with Roger Binny, 62 for the 8th with Madan Lal, and a blazing unfinished record 126 for the 9th with keeper Syed Kirmani. Kapil Dev was unbeaten with 175 off just 138 balls.
His 6 sixes and 16 fours enabled India to finish on 266/8 in their 60 overs. Zimbabwe fought on but Kapil captured the last wicket, clinching victory by 31 runs, an amazing Man-of-the-Match effort by a true great.
In the last group match, nearly all the ‘Kapil’s Devils’ contributed with the bat, and the seamers ensured that Australia would not get even within a hundred of India’s score.
India in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time but hosts England were hardly ever able to put pressure. Kapil Dev mopped up the tail to finish with three for 35 in 11 overs. His batsmen gave the English no chance, cantering to an easy win.were
On the big day at Lord’s, the opponents were the near-invincible West Indies. Indians were gross underdogs. They packed up for a mere 183 runs in 54.4 overs. In strode Vivian Richards at one down and began spanking the ball to the boundary. As he pulled Madan Lal off the front foot high over mid-wicket, Kapil swivelled around and sprinted, clutching the ball as it was about to go down in front of him.
Led by the supercharged skipper India went for the kill. Kapil held a sharp catch in the covers to send back Clive Lloyd. There was a veritable procession, and at 76 for six the champions had all but been dethroned. The knockout punch came via the gentle medium-pace of Mohinder Amarnath. In between, Kapil trapped Andy Roberts leg-before, and his team celebrated a famous victory.
The 1983 World Cup was a golden chapter in Kapil Dev’s glittering career, a World Cup record score of 175 not out, and 303 runs at an average of 60.60; a five-wicket haul, and 12 wickets at 20.41 each and economy-rate of 2.91 runs per over; a record seven catches in a single World Cup; and the championship. Simply put, his performance was brilliant.
#4 Chetan Sharma’s hat-trick in 1987
Chetan Sharma was always an interesting character on the field. A tiny, bearded, dynamo of a paceman, he could surprise batsmen with his deceptive speed, no mean feat for a man of such slight build. He was not the one to hide his emotions either, and his theatrical, strident and shrill appeals were invariably the cause for mirth among the spectators.
Thus when a man like Chetan Sharma achieves a hat-trick, and that too in the World Cup before a capacity home crowd, the scene can well be imagined. The crowd went berserk as Sharma lay spread-eagled on his back in sheer ecstasy. His teammates ran towards him in a mixture of disbelief, jubilation, and amusement, a magic moment in Indian cricket.
With New Zealand on 182 for five, there was no hint of the drama and excitement to follow. Chetan Sharma clean bowled Ken Rutherford off the fourth delivery of his 6th over. Wicketkeeper Ian Smith came in, and Sharma went through his defence too, the first ball. Celebrations gave way to a buzz of anticipation as Ewan Chatfield took Smith's place. Kapil Dev called in his field. Sharma steamed in and let go, and amazingly, Chatfield missed. The ball crashed into his stumps.
The noise was deafening. Chetan Sharma had taken a hat-trick, and all clean bowled. In that match, Sunil Gavaskar reached his maiden One-day century off 85 deliveries. It was to be his only one in what turned out to be the penultimate match of his career. India marched into the semi-finals.
#5 Record partnership between Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid in 1999
While others found it difficult to score a century in the 1999 World Cup, Indian batsmen reeled them off. Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid had flayed the Kenyan bowling and set up a plethora of records.
If that was an unprecedented high in the World Cup, Dravid and Sourav Ganguly reached the pinnacle in terms of partnerships in all One-day Internationals, when India met the trophy holders, Sri Lanka.
Dravid, the accomplished technician, surprisingly set the early pace with a flurry of brilliant strokes. Ganguly, the smooth timer, picked up the cue later and launched a blistering attack, the like which had rarely been seen before.
They were both revelations. The ‘Prince of Kolkata’ was hitherto known for his silken strokes on the off-side. He was awkward, if not ungainly while playing on the on-side. There were no such inelegant jabs in this match. Once he cut loose, Ganguly's big-hitting - straight and over long-on - took one’s breath away. It was a show of brilliant timing.
'The Wall' Dravid had always been known as a copybook batsman in the Sunil Gavaskar tradition. Here, on this true wicket at Taunton, Dravid went on an uncharacteristic stroke-playing binge. He played his wristy shots to perfection, with the willow doing his bidding every time.
Dravid became the second batsman in the World Cup to carve back-to-back centuries, after his unbeaten 104 against Kenya. Mark Waugh had achieved it in 1996. With Ganguly also scoring a hundred, this was the third instance of two batsmen hitting tons in the same World Cup innings after Desmond Haynes and Vivian Richards in 1987, and Dravid and Tendulkar three days earlier.
As Dravid also kept wickets in the match, his 145 was the then highest by a wicketkeeper in the World Cup. Ganguly’s 183 was India’s highest in One-day Internationals, surpassing Kapil Dev’s 175 in the 1983 World Cup. It was second-best in the World Cup after Gary Kirsten’s 188 not out in 1996, and fourth in all ODIs behind Saeed Anwar’s 194 and Vivian Richards’ 189.
Ganguly hit 7 sixes, equalling Vivian Richards’ World Cup record and Sachin Tendulkar’s Indian record in ODIs. Coupled with his 17 fours, Ganguly had hit the maximum runs in boundaries in a World Cup knock.
Ganguly and Dravid added 318, the first triple-century partnership in ODIs. The previous best World Cup stand was 237 between Dravid and Tendulkar in their last match. The highest-ever stand in ODIs was 275 between Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajay Jadeja. Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid re-wrote the record books with their exhilarating batting.
#6 Ashish Nehra’s six for 23 versus England in 2003
Ashish Nehra was a revelation. The frail 23-year-old left-armer, known to swing the ball both ways, was injury-prone and seemed to be languishing after a promising start to his career. In the previous game, he bowled just one delivery, twisting his ankle and retiring to the physiotherapist’s table.
With the ankle still, a bit swollen, the team think-tank’s faith in him was surprising considering that he had not set anything ablaze in the recent past. Perhaps they had seen something of him that others had not. Indeed, they had. Nehra astounded with his speed against England, touching almost 150 kph, and consistently bowling at 90 mph (144 kph). That was about as fast as Shane Bond, third quickest in the world after Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee.
Nehra raced in and bowled so close to the stumps over-the-wicket that his sleeve often brushed the umpires. He followed the basics, keeping the ball up, and around the off-stump. There was no prodigious swing but he seamed the ball away just that little bit, or straightened it a trifle, keeping the batsmen on tenterhooks.
The Indian batsmen had scored around 250. The Kingsmead wicket, notorious for its bounce, seemed lively but well behaved. At night it probably skidded a little more. Soon it was Nehra’s match.
Skipper Nasser Hussain was caught at the wicket, trying to steer Nehra. Nehra straightened the next ball, trapping Alec Stewart plumb leg-before. Ten runs later, the prolific Michael Vaughan nicked Nehra, and Rahul Dravid gleefully accepted his 50th catch as wicketkeeper. Half the English side had gone for 62. Nehra was on full throttle.
The only real fight came from the burly Andrew Flintoff. Paul Collingwood briefly helped stave off the inevitable until Nehra had him edging to Virender Sehwag at second slip. Craig White snicked the persistent Nehra into Dravid’s gloves. This was Nehra’s first five-wicket haul in One-dayers.
He celebrated by having Ronnie Irani taken at first slip by Sehwag. England were 107 for eight. Nehra took six for 23 in his unchanged 10-over spell, best figures for India in the World Cup.
Nehra’s guru, the noted coach Tarak Sinha of Delhi’s Sonnet Club, revealed that Nehra’s delivery stride was shortened to help generate speed and prevent undue strain on his slender body. That explained the readings on the speed gun. The frail young man would not be taken lightly anymore.
#7 Sachin Tendulkar’s superb batting in 2003
Sachin Tendulkar was in awesome form in the 2003 World Cup and a huge factor in India reaching the final.
The Dutch trundlers had India in trouble. Tendulkar battled his way, surpassing Javed Miandad’s World Cup tally of 1083 runs. A Tim de Leede delivery took off suddenly and deviated away. Tendulkar was caught behind for 52 off 72 deliveries with seven fours.
The Indian batting floundered against the fiery pace of Aussies Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie. Tendulkar stood firm until he moved across to flick Gillespie, and was leg-before for 36. India crashed to a humiliating nine-wicket defeat. There was a backlash at home.
Then rose a combination with newfound spirit. Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag put the Zimbabwe bowling to the sword in a rousing 99-run opening stand. Dinesh Mongia was a bystander in a 43-run 2nd wicket partnership. A delivery from the left-arm spinner Grant Flower rolled on to the stumps off Tendulkar’s defensive blade. His 81 came off 91 balls with 10 exquisite boundaries.
India triumphed easily and Tendulkar wrested his sixth man-of-the-match award in the World Cup, breaking away from the pack of Vivian Richards, Graham Gooch, and Lance Klusener.
Namibia could never challenge India. Once Ganguly joined Tendulkar, there was a deluge. Tendulkar raised his 34th One-day International hundred, racing still far ahead of the rest. The 2nd wicket stand logged up 244 runs before Tendulkar was out, having crashed 152 off 151 deliveries with 18 hits to the fence.
This was his highest score in the World Cup, and the partnership was second best for any wicket in the tournament after the 318-run Ganguly-Dravid duet of 1999. Tendulkar won his second consecutive man-of-the-match prize, his third such feat in the World Cup.
He put up 60 with Sehwag against England. Amazingly he hit his first six in a tournament in which he had sparkled. Immediately after he brought up his fifty, Tendulkar slashed one into the hands of backward point. He had faced 52 balls and cracked eight boundaries besides the hooked sixer. India clinched an easy victory under lights.
The India-Pakistan contest had two entire nations transfixed. Pakistan seized the initiative with a score of 273 for seven. The great Wasim Akram opened the bowling. Tendulkar drove the third delivery off the back foot through the covers into the pickets. Sehwag also got into the act. From then on there was only one team in the match.
Shoaib Akhtar came on at the other end. Tendulkar blasted him for a six and two fours off the last three balls. The Rawalpindi Express conceded 18 runs off his first over and was promptly taken off. Tendulkar had established his ascendancy.
He zoomed to his own fifty in a matter of 37 balls. Mohammad Kaif helped put on a brisk 102. Cramps began to hamper Tendulkar. He brought up his 12,000th run in ODIs. He now stood alone on a pedestal.
When Akhtar let go a nasty bouncer the virtually immobile Tendulkar could only instinctively fend a catch to point. His magnificent 98 took just 75 deliveries. He had rocketed 12 fours and a six. This was arguably Tendulkar’s best innings in the World Cup. India maintained their hundred percent World Cup record over Pakistan.
There was only one claimant for the gold watch awarded to the man-of-the-match. Tendulkar had now walked away with three such glittering prizes in the last four matches.
The little master had had a fabulous run in the pool matches with scores of 52, 36, 81, 152, 50 and 98, a total of 469 runs off 500 deliveries at an average of 78.16 and strike-rate of 93.8 runs per 100 balls. Tendulkar had a magical effect on the team, which sailed into the super-sixes.
The law of averages finally caught up as Tendulkar was dismissed for 5 against Kenya. The great man corrected the course immediately, the Sri Lankans feeling the weight of his punishing blade. With Sehwag he brought up a century opening stand, the pair logging up 153 in 26.2 overs.
Ganguly helped add another 61 runs. Tendulkar played an awkward sweep into the wicketkeeper’s gauntlets. He returned with 97, the only batsman to score three nineties in the World Cup. Having faced 120 balls, he hit 7 fours and a six.
It was the second time that he had notched 500 runs in a World Cup, no other batsman having hitherto achieved the milestone even once.
The Indian batsmen seemed in a hurry after the Kiwis folded up for 146. Tendulkar holed out, having hit three boundaries in his 15 off 16 balls. But the match was won easily to set up a semi-final date with surprise qualifiers Kenya.
Tendulkar and Sehwag put up another fine opening partnership of 74. Ganguly was Tendulkar’s ally in a 103-run 2nd wicket association. Stroking brilliantly, Tendulkar had another century in his sights when he pulled skipper Steve Tikolo’s off-spin high over mid-wicket. David Obuya plucked it out brilliantly. Tendulkar’s 83 off 101 balls contained 5 fours and a six.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting won the final off his own bat. For India to chase a target of 360 against such a formidable attack was well nigh impossible. But Tendulkar was going to have a shot at it. He pulled McGrath to the boundary and then trying to repeat the stroke off the fifth delivery, only managed a steepler into the bowler's hands.
There may not have been a fairy-tale end to one of the most inspired performances in a One-day competition, but Tendulkar had raised the bar for all comers. He won the Golden Bat, his award for being adjudged the Player-of-the-Tournament, which was presented to him by Sir Garfield Sobers. In two World Cups - 1996 and 2003 - Tendulkar was the leading run-getter. His 673 runs in 2003 are still a World Cup record.
#8 Yuvraj Singh’s four man-of-the-match, and player-of-the-tournament, awards in 2011
From the horrors of the 2007 World Cup, a resolute Indian team rose, with eyes set on the crown, and a Yuvraj Singh, who destined to be king. Many saw the opening faceoff with Bangladesh in 2011 as a reprisal for the humiliation four years earlier.
Virender Sehwag (175) and young Virat Kohli (100 not out) ensured that India hit up 370 for four. Yuvraj did not get a hit, and his 7 overs were wicketless.
With Sachin Tendulkar in imperious form against England, Yuvraj joined the little master at 180 for two. They added 56 in 9.4 overs. Tendulkar left after scoring a tremendous 120. Yuvraj and captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni kept up the momentum. Yuvraj’s fifty came off 46 deliveries. He was holed out for 58, having faced 50 balls and struck 9 boundaries. India were bowled out for 338 with one delivery still remaining. Andrew Strauss led from the front with a superb 158. The match was tied.
Yuvraj struck with the ball against Ireland. He had Andrew White caught behind by Dhoni, and got Kevin O’Brien to hit back a catch. Porterfield slammed him into the hands of Harbhajan Singh. Bowling his stint of 10 overs unchanged, Yuvraj trapped John Mooney and Alex Cusack lbw. He bagged five for 31. Ireland were dismissed for 207.
India were in some strife at 87 for three when Yuvraj strode in. Kohli was run out soon. Dhoni helped Yuvraj add 67. In alliance with a belligerent Yusuf Pathan, Yuvraj took India home by five wickets with 4 overs to spare. He finished with an exact 50, the first to bag five wickets and score a half-century in a World Cup match. His runs came off 75 balls and he struck 3 boundaries. The man-of-the-match award was rightfully his.
The Dutch teased a bit. Yuvraj trapped Wesley Barresi leg-before to wrest his 100th wicket in One-day Internationals. He deceived the accomplished Ryan ten Doeschate, and Zaheer Khan brought off a fine catch. Yuvraj bagged two for 43 off 9 overs. The Netherlands team was dismissed for 189.
Pieter Seelaar struck thrice as a complacent India lost quick wickets. Yuvraj sauntered in at 99 for four. He added 40 with Gautam Gambhir. Then 'Captain Cool', MS Dhoni arrived, and the pair coasted. Yuvraj hit the winning boundary, raising his own fifty as well as that of the partnership. He was unbeaten with 51, achieved off 73 deliveries and embellished with 7 boundaries. It was his third consecutive half-century and second successive man-of-the-match prize, another in a series of finishing efforts with unconquered fifties.
Powered by Tendulkar’s 99th International hundred, India were sailing against South Africa. Once the maestro departed, the hosts collapsed from 267 for one in 39.4 overs to 296 all out in 48.4 overs, rocked by a five-wicket haul by the fiery Dale Steyn. Yuvraj fell for 12 and was unable to pick up a wicket in his 8 overs, conceding 47 runs. In a nail-biting finish, South Africa won with 2 balls to spare and three wickets in hand.
India regrouped in their last league match versus West Indies. Batting no.4 in the absence of Sehwag, Yuvraj settled into a long association with Kohli. The century partnership came simultaneously with Kohli’s half-century. Dhoni assisted in a partnership of 45. Yuvraj raised his hundred off 112 balls.
He was caught and bowled by Kieron Pollard for a magnificent 113, his lone hundred in the World Cup. The 123-ball knock comprised 10 fours and 2 sixes. India were bowled out for 268 inside 50 overs.
Yuvraj had Devon Thomas stumped by Dhoni, and Andre Russell caught by Yusuf Pathan. His two wickets cost 18 runs in 4 overs. West Indies crumbled to 188 all out. Yuvraj wrested another man-of-the-match award.
A vintage hundred by Ricky Ponting spurred Australia to 260 for six. Yuvraj broke Ponting’s 70-run 2nd wicket stand with Brad Haddin. He had Haddin taken by Suresh Raina and got Michael Clarke top-edging to Zaheer Khan. Yuvraj’s two wickets cost 44 runs in 10 overs.
A half-century by Tendulkar set India on their way. Gambhir brought up his fifty but was run out. When Suresh Raina joined Yuvraj there were 74 runs needed off 12.3 overs with five wickets left. Yuvraj reached his fifty in 54 balls. India were home with 2.2 overs to spare.
Again Yuvraj had carried out a gallant finishing job. His unbeaten 57 off 65 deliveries was embellished with 8 boundaries. Yuvraj won another successive man-of-the-match prize, his fourth of the tournament, equalling the feats of Aravinda de Silva (1996) and Lance Klusener (1999).
Tendulkar battled the Pakistani bowlers on a tricky Mohali semi-final wicket. Yuvraj was yorked first ball by the left-arm paceman Wahab Riaz. India totalled 260 for nine.
Yuvraj straighter one crashed into Asad Shafiq’s middle stump. He deceived Younis Khan, inducing a spooned drive to Raina. Pakistan were 106 for four in 25.4 overs. They were bowled out for 231. Yuvraj’s two wickets cost 57 runs in 10 overs. India won by 29 runs.
In the final at Mumbai. Yuvraj's quicker one had Kumar Sangakkara edging to Dhoni. He trapped Thilan Samaraweera leg-before. Mahela Jayawardene scored a classy century, helping Sri Lanka hoist 274 for six.
Dhoni's 119-run alliance with Gambhir (97) carried India to 223 for four. There were 52 runs required from 8.4 overs. Dhoni's winning hit sailed for a huge six over long-on with 10 balls in hand. It was a dazzling 91 not out from Dhoni. Again Yuvraj returned unbeaten in triumph with 21 runs off 24 balls.
Yuvraj was player-of-the-tournament. He tallied 362 runs at an average of 90.50 and strike-rate of 86.19, with a hundred and 4 fifties. This was complemented by 15 wickets at 25.13 apiece and economy-rate of 5.02, including a five-wicket haul. The 3 catches rounded off a magnificent contribution.
#9 Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoting himself in the batting order and playing a stupendous World Cup winning innings in the 2011 final
A supremely confident Indian team appeared to be peaking at the right time. Such was the din at the Wankhede Stadium that none at the toss heard skipper Kumar Sangakkara’s call correctly, and the coin had to be flipped again.
The Sri Lankan innings was built around a superb hundred by Mahela Jayawardene. They equalled the highest losing total of 274 in a World Cup final. No team batting second had scored so many in a World Cup final, but every team with a centurion in the final had won the Cup. This was not for the faint-hearted!
‘Slinger’ Malinga trapped Virender Sehwag leg-before second-ball. Having carved two boundaries, Sachin Tendulkar nicked Malinga, and Sangakkara grabbed it, flinging himself to his right. Tendulkar was not to score his 100th hundred in the World Cup final. The crowd gave him an extended standing ovation. But there was despondency too as India were 31 for two, with a mountain to climb.
Gautam Gambhir and Virat Kohli regrouped, batting with maturity, bereft of histrionics. The left-hander clocked his half-century in 56 balls. Kohli was beginning to open out when he drove hard at Dilshan who took a brilliant return catch. They had put on 83 in 15.3 overs, priceless in this situation. MS Dhoni resolutely promoted himself, perhaps intending to retain the left-right pairing too.
He began studiously, striking a boundary only off his 25th ball. Progress was steady; Dhoni hammered one through the covers to reach fifty off 52 deliveries. Gambhir by now was 90, and India 204 for three after 38 overs. Runs came easily but Gambhir sent shock-waves, trying to smash one, only to be bowled for 97. He had played anchor in the high-voltage game, his 122-ball knock comprising 9 boundaries.
Yuvraj Singh joined in with 52 required off 52 balls. Dhoni rocketed one over point for a six. They raised the tempo in the 47th over with a boundary each. Dhoni hit Malinga for two more fours in the next over.
With 5 runs to get in two overs, Dhoni nonchalantly lofted the ball above long-on into the stands. He returned triumphant with 91 off 79 balls studded with 8 fours and 2 sixes. Dhoni lifted the Cup; the joyous teammates hoisted Tendulkar. Kohli remarked famously: “He has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years. It was time we carried him.” Dreams do come true.
#10 India’s winning streak of 11 matches in a row in 2011 and 2015
The best sequence of consecutive World Cup matches without a defeat is that amazing streak of 34 matches by Australia from 27th May 1999 to 16th March 2011. The best winning sequence in consecutive World Cup matches lies within this feat by Australia, 25 victories from 20th June 1999 to 25th February 2011.
India are second in this World Cup-winning sequence, albeit by a long way, with 11 consecutive victories from 20th March 2011 to 19th March 2015. Four of these victories came in the 2011 World Cup, beginning with the last group match against the West Indies, and through the quarter-final, semi-final and final.
In the 2015 World Cup, India won all their six pool matches, and the quarter-final, before bowing out in the semi-final to eventual champions and hosts Australia. Led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, this sequence of 11 consecutive wins was as follows:
20.3.2011, beat the West Indies in their last Group B match at Chennai by 80 runs.
24.3.2011, beat Australia in the Quarter-final at Motera, Ahmedabad by 5 wickets.
30.3.2011, beat Pakistan in the Semi-final at Mohali by 29 runs.
2.4.2011, beat Sri Lanka in the Final at Mumbai by 6 wickets.
15.2.2015, beat Pakistan in Pool B at Adelaide by 76 runs.
22.2.2015, beat South Africa in Pool B at Melbourne by 130 runs.
28.2.2015, beat United Arab Emirates in Pool B at Perth by 9 wickets.
6.3.2015, beat West Indies in Pool B at Perth by 4 wickets.
10.3.2015, beat Ireland in Pool B at Hamilton by 8 wickets.
14.3.2015, beat Zimbabwe in Pool B at Auckland by 6 wickets.
19.3.2015, beat Bangladesh in the Quarter-final at Melbourne by 109 runs.
India bowled out their opponents for the seventh successive match in 2015, the most by any team in the World Cup. This brought up Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 100th victory as captain in One-day Internationals.