05 April 2011
Dhoni was a 'bomb about to explode' before final: Yuvraj
Teammate and Man of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh described captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni as a "bomb about to explode" ahead of the ICC World Cup 2011 final
India Cricketer Yuvraj Singh and Mahendra Singh Dhoni Celebrate after their win.
After failing to score big in the run-up to the World Cup summit clash against Sri Lanka, Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni resembled a "bomb about to explode" ahead of the final, teammate and Man of the Tournament Yuvraj Singh said.
"He (Dhoni) was not getting big scores in the tournament, but he kept working hard, and did not miss a single practice session. Watching him in the nets gave one the impression that he was a 'bomb about to explode'," Yuvraj wrote in the Cricket Board's latest quarterly newsletter dedicated to India's World Cup triumph.
"Looking back, I am glad he 'exploded' in the final, and not earlier! He went in ahead of me in that game, but that was purely to keep the left-right combination going in the middle. He had a point to prove and he played an innings of a lifetime," the left-handed big-hitter said.
Dhoni went in ahead of man-in-form Yuvraj when the final was on a knife-edge at the Wankhede Stadium with India at 114 for 3 in the 22nd over chasing a target of 275.
The Indian skipper, in the company of left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir (97) first and then Yuvraj (21 not out), smashed an unconquered 91 off only 79 balls with eight fours and two sixes - including the winning hit off Nuwan Kulasekara - to power India to victory.
Yuvraj wrote in the article that the Ranchi-born captain takes to "pressure like a fish to water" and that he was lucky to "have the best view of the captain's winning hit".
Yuvraj, who excelled with both the bat (362 runs from nine games) and ball (15 wickets) recalled that the defeat to South Africa in the league stage at Nagpur was the turning point of the Indian team's triumphant run which fetched the country its World Cup title after 28 years.
"The defeat against South Africa was the turning point of our campaign. Our batting and fielding was disappointing in that game, and we worked hard on both areas over the next few days. A top priority was to build partnerships in the middle," he wrote.
India were all out for 296 in the match against the Proteas on March 12 at Nagpur, and then their bowlers and fielders allowed the South Africans reply with 300 for 7 and win with two balls to spare.
About his left-arm bowling, Yuvraj said that he tried to keep it simple and was rewarded.
"I had to do a lot of bowling, being the only left arm spinner in the side, and it was something I enjoyed immensely. I tried to keep it simple and straight, and had some good spells, the best of the lot being the five-wicket haul (5 for 31 at Bangalore) against Ireland," he said.
Recalling the great Indian run to the title, Dhoni wrote that the victory over three-time defending champions Australia at Ahmedabad's Motera Stadium was the turnaround for his team.
"D-day was 24 March, when we took on the defending champions in the quarterfinal at Ahmedabad. We restricted the Aussies to a gettable score, and then our batsmen did a professional job," he has written.
Dhoni has also recalled that he had backed Yuvraj when he was going through an indifferent run of form right through 2010 as he felt it was only a matter of time for the left-hander to touch peak form.
"I had always maintained right through 2010, when many had questioned Yuvraj Singh's future, which he was a special player, and it was only a matter of time before he returned to his aggressive self. He could not have chosen a bigger platform on which to showcase his talent," Dhoni has written.
About the memorable six that he hit off Kulasekara in the final that fetched India the World Cup after a gap of 28 years, Dhoni has been modesty personified.
"There was nothing more to the shot with which we finished the game, other than the fact that the ball was there to be hit. I watched it all the way, swung, and connected well," he has remembered.
He has said that while the team members were all "obviously thrilled", what gave them the "ultimate high" "was the realisation that we had given our compatriots a lot of joy. We would not be anything without their support."
He has also singled out pace spearhead Zaheer Khan, who grabbed 21 wickets in nine games, for special mention.
"While the batsmen sparkled, the bowlers also excelled. No praise can be too high for Zaheer Khan, who led the attack with distinction.
"The batsmen delivered when it mattered, the spinners were outstanding, and the fielding competent."
April 2, 2011 is a red letter day for the team as well as the country "will never forget", he concluded.
Champion batsman Sachin Tendulkar has recalled all the previous unsuccessful campaigns that he took part in, while saying winning the World Cup is the ultimate achievement for a cricketer.
"Every cricketer aspires to win the World Cup. It is the ultimate achievement. It affects not only the cricketers but also their followers. Ask us, who witnessed the victory in the 1983 World Cup, as children! That win inspired my generation, and I was no exception," he has written in his short piece.
Saying his first "live" exposure to the World Cup action was in 1987 at the same Wankhede stadium where he realised his dream two months ago, as a ball boy, the batting great has said that the high points of the failed 1992 and 1996 campaigns, were the victories over arch-rivals Pakistan.
Tendulkar, who was the second-highest run-getter in the 2011 World Cup with 482 runs from nine games (18 short of Sri Lanka's Tillakaratne Dilshan), said the team could have won in 1999 and 2003 in England and South Africa.
The champion cricketer has said in his article that the team had peaked at the right time this time around, practised hard and also translated all that on to the field of play.
"We had an excellent outfit in 2011. We strategised, practised hard, and most importantly, translated all that into performance on the field. Our performances kept getting better as the tournament progressed, and peaked at precisely the right time."
Tendulkar has written he was emotionally touched when the team members dedicated the triumph to him.
"What we felt when the captain hit the winning six in the final was indescribable. I was touched when members of the team 'dedicated' the win to me. These are moments I will never ever forget."
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