It has been nine years since India clinched their second ODI World Cup title in 2011. Under the inspiring leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India clinched the coveted trophy after 28 years and in what a grand fashion, ‘Men in Blue’ won the finals. It was Dhoni’s six over long-on off Sri Lanka’s Nuwan Kulasekara which sealed the victory at Mumbai’s iconic Wankhede Stadium.
Team India’s hero was none other than Yuvraj Singh who shimmered in the competition. He was adjudged ‘Player of the Tournament’ for his all-round performance which included 362 runs and 15 wickets in nine games.
Recently, fans, along with team players, celebrated the ninth anniversary on April 2. Speaking to TOI, Paddy Upton revealed how Yuvi focused and prepared for the World Cup. Paddy was the then Mental Conditioning and Strategic Leadership Coach of the Indian National cricket team appointed in 2008 along with Gary Kirsten as a head coach.
Paddy said that Yuvraj was dropped from the Test team about six months before the World Cup, but instead of grumbling over it, the swashbuckling batsman worked hard on his fitness in order to prepare for the showpiece event. Upton said that Yuvraj was ready for it; physically, technically and especially mentally.
“When he (Yuvraj) arrived at the World Cup, he was ready for it, physically, technically and especially mentally. He had spent literally every day for months imagining himself hitting the winning runs to win the World Cup for India,” said Paddy.
“I think the fact that he was mentally so well prepared and focused helped him stay in-tune with that goal, and not get distracted by his ailing health. The mind is able to overrule the body, which Yuvi displayed beautifully through his man-of-the-tournament performances,” added Paddy.
In that match, Sri Lanka posted a competitive total of 274/6 in their 50 overs. In reply, India got off to a terrible start as opener Virender Sehwag was sent back to pavilion for a second-ball duck by Lasith Malinga. Soon, legendary Sachin Tendulkar was also dismissed, and India were reduced to 31/2.
But then, Gautam Gambhir took charge to take the team out from hot waters; a young Virat Kohli well assisted him as the duo added 83 runs for the third wicket stand. However, Tillakaratne Dilshan’s outstanding catch ended Kohli’s innings for 35.
After Kohli’s dismissal, surprisingly instead of Yuvraj, captain Dhoni came out to bat at number four. Dhoni, along with Gambhir, added a 109-run fourth-wicket stand. The Delhi-born left-handed player was reaching closer to score a century in the finals, but unfortunately, his defence was shattered by Thisara Perera for a 122-ball 97.
However, it did not matter then as the match was in India’s grasp and Dhoni (91*) finished it in style by launching Kulasekara’s good length ball into the stands and led his nation to win its second World Cup.