It's already been 10 years since India completed a historic triumph against Sri Lanka at the iconic Wankhede stadium in 2011 World Cup final. However, the feeling of clinching that trophy was so overwhelming that we sometimes forget the contributions of the players on the field who produced a majestic finale clash. Let us turn back the clock and look at the key moments during the course of one of the best world cup finals in the history of ODI cricket.
1. To add some spice, lets do the toss twice
The much-anticipated thriller between India and Sri Lanka began in the most dramatic fashion with a controversy during the toss. As the coin was flipped, Kumar Sangakkara had notably called 'heads' which was the ultimate result (confirmed by footages/replays later). However, MS Dhoni had heard it as 'tails' and he thought India won the toss. Because of the noisy Wankhede stadium, even match referee Martin Crowe was also not sure about the call and neither was the presenter during the toss, Ravi Shastri.
On the insistence of Mahi, the toss took place once again to avoid the confusion. Although the Sri Lanka skipper rightfully won the toss, things could have become really controversial had MS won the toss the second time. Considering the big game and humid conditions, Sangakkara made a no-brainer decision to bat first in Mumbai.
2. Zaheer overcomes the ghost of past
India's leader of pace attack, Zaheer Khan took the ball in hand to bowl the first over. While the left-arm bowler had a great tournament and was raring with confidence, it would not have been easy for him considering what had happened 8 years ago. In the 2003 world cup final match against Australia in Wanderers, Zaheer gave away four no-balls and six wides to concede 15 runs in the first over. The Kangaroos never looked back after it and handed India a thumping defeat.
However, it was a much more experienced Zaheer this time around. In a completely contrasting performance, the left-arm pacer bowled three maiden overs on the trot. Zaheer got the crucial wicket of opening batsman Upul Tharanga with a peach of a delivery. He kept bowling the tight lines as the Sri Lankan batsmen could never get going against him. Zaheer eventually delivered one of the best opening spells in a world cup final clash, with his figures reading 5-3-6-1.
3. Yuvi and Bhajji spin the web
India's spin-duo of Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh were the unsung heroes during Sri Lanka's batting. Both of them kept bowling according to the fields and never let the opponents get off the hook. Yuvi and Bhajji completely stopped the flow of runs during the middle-overs which turned out to be one of the decisive factors behind Sri Lanka not being able to reach 300-run mark.
Harbhajan took the all-important wicket of the leading run-scorer of the tournament, Tillakaratne Dilshan. On the other hand, Yuvraj dismissed Kumar Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera. The continuous fall of wickets on a regular basis prevented Sri Lanka from increasing the run-rate in middle overs. At the end of their quota of 10 overs each, Bhajji finished with 1/50, while Yuvi's bowling figures read 2/49.
4. The Mahela masterclass
As Sri Lanka kept on losing wickets, there was one man who was determined to take his team over the line. Former skipper Mahela Jayawardene had left the captaincy duties but he was still a vital cog in that middle-order. The right-handed batsman stitched some crucial partnerships with Kumar Sangakkara, Thilan Samareweera and Nuwan Kulasekara to keep his side in the contest.
The right-handed batsman played one of the best knocks of his life in probably the most-important match of his career. With 13 boundaries to his name, Jayawardene scored an unbeaten century (103* off 88 deliveries) to take his side to a competitive total of 274 at the end of 50 overs. While it was not enough to secure a win, it surely went down as one of the most special innings in the history of world cup finals.
5. Malinga breaks India's hearts
As the Men in Blue came to bat to hunt down the target, it was never going to be easy in those humid conditions. But Indian fans were hopeful of a good start from their legendary opening pair of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. However, things didn't really go according to the script. Malinga dismissed Viru on a duck off the second delivery of India's chase.
All hopes lied on the shoulders of Master Blaster who was playing his sixth and last world cup. He was looking in good touch, having smashed two beautiful boundaries. There was a determined look in his eyes and the fans were hoping from a special knock from 'God of cricket' but Malinga had other plans. The fast-bowler bowled a full delivery that moved away slightly, took an outside edge off Tendulkar's bat to dismiss him, leaving the stadium in stun silence.
6. Virat Kohli's crucial cameo
When the youngster Virat Kohli came out to bat, India were reeling at 31/2 after 6.1 overs. It was extremely important for the right-handed batsman to stick around and stabilize the innings. While he was probably the least experienced batsman in that star-studded line-up, Kohli showed utmost maturity and class to get his side back into the match.
After seeing off the early phase, the right-handed batsman started playing his strokes to give India some momentum. Kohli smashed four boundaries as he went on to play a solid knock of 35 runs off 49 deliveries. While he couldn't make it to a big score after Dilshan produced a flying catch to dismiss him, he had done enough to lay a solid platform for Gambhir and Dhoni to take over.
7. Title-winning partnership
When Virat Kohli got out, India's score read 114/3 in 21.4 overs. While the target still seemed like miles away, it was important for Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni to keep the momentum going. The experienced duo stuck around, kept hitting the occasional boundaries and notched up a solid partnership of 109 runs off 118 deliveries, which turned out to be the decisive period of the match.
Although the left-handed batsman fell just three runs short of what could have been a brilliant century, his 97-run contribution was enough to secure a legendary status. The stain on Gambhir's jersey is still one of the most iconic ones, something that just displays the passion and hard-work that was put behind to win the all-important trophy for the country.
8. MS Dhoni finishes it off in style
There could have been nothing more emphatic to see an Indian skipper leading from the front at the biggest stage. Coming on the back of an average campaign with the bat, MSD came in to bat at No. 4 and played an unbeaten knock of 91 runs off 79 deliveries. Captain Cool sealed the title for India with undoubtedly one of the most iconic sixes in history of cricket off the bowling off Nuwan Kulasekara.
The on-air commentator Ravi Shastri summed up the moment with his golden words as he said, "Dhoni finishes it off in style, a magnificent strike into the crowd, India lift the World Cup after 28 years, the party starts in the dressing room, and it is an Indian captain who has been absolutely magnificent on the night of the finals.” These words still echo in the ears of Indian fans every time we remember the triumph.