On this date 11 years ago, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Team India ended a 28-year wait for a World Cup title when it defeated Sri Lanka by six wickets in the final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. Dhoni (91*) and opener Gautam Gambhir (91) were key to India’s successful run-chase in the final, after openers Virender Sehwag (0) and Sachin Tendulkar (18) were dismissed early in the innings.
Chasing a 275-run target, India were reeling at 31/2 in 6.1 overs when Gambhir was joined by a 22-year-old Virat Kohli, who then stabilised the Indian innings with an important 83-run stand for the third wicket. Kohli was eventually dismissed on 35 but the partnership laid the platform for Dhoni and Gambhir to steer forward the chase.
On its 11th anniversary, Kohli recalled the World Cup final victory in a video posted by the Royal Challengers Bangalore, and revealed the three words Sachin Tendulkar told him shortly after being dismissed in the seventh over of the Indian innings.
“I remember the pressure of walking in to bat at two down for 20-something. Sachin and Sehwag, both were out. Sachin paaji had a brief chat with me when I walked in. He said, ‘build a partnership’. And we did build a partnership, me and Gautam Gambhir,” Kohli recalled.
Talking about the atmosphere throughout the game, the former Indian captain said that the memories remain fresh in his mind even after 11 years of the triumph.
“I got 35 and it was probably the most important 35 in my cricket career. I felt very happy that I was a part of putting the team back on track and contributing in the way that I could. Just the thrill of winning the World Cup was something unbelievable. The atmosphere of the crowd singing ‘Vande Mataram’ and ‘Jo Jeeta Vahi Sikandar’ songs was surreal. It is something that is so fresh in our memories even now,” said Kohli.