We finished with the noughties. Interestingly when I was writing my article on the 2007 World Cup I was looking for a generic term to refer the first decade of the millennium. I drew a blank and I googled to learn something new. The Years from 2001 to 2010 are referred the noughties. Sorry for digressing this was supposed to be about the 2011 World Cup. We will get there no worries Here we are in 2011 and it has been twenty eight years since my first memories of the 1983 World Cup. That’s a long time and the millennials started pushing the generation X to the side and cricket was no exception. All the cricketing greats of my childhood had either retired and become back room boys and donned different avatars as commentators, coaches and cricketing columnists. The only generation X player around was the guy now famously known as “God of Cricket” Sachin Tendulkar. Twenty Twenty nothing related to the perfect vision pronounced similar to year 2020 was cricket’s contribution to the ever expanding English dictionary. A shorter version of the game cricket’s answer to baseball aimed at generation Z had left the purists fuming. The ICC trying to milk money out of the new market for Twenty20 came up with a new world cup for the Twenty20 format six months after the 2007 ODI World Cup. The Indian team still recovering from their shock exit in the 2007 ODI World Cup had their ultimate redemption when India under a new captain Mahinder Singh Dhoni won the first Twenty20 World Cup. The “God of Cricket” had to now share the media spotlight with the new poster boy of Indian cricket the” Captain Cool” Mahinder Singh Dhoni. The Success of India in the Twenty20 tournament led to the advent of Indian Premier League a Twenty20 cricket city based franchise tournament similar to English premier league . For the first time the Indian cricket fans were a divided lot rooting for their city based franchises in IPL highlighting the unifying nature of the Indian cricket team
The one day World Cup had returned to the sub-continent after 15 years. Pakistan had to relinquish their hosting rights because of their internal security problems with Bangladesh and Sri Lanka sharing the hosting responsibilities. Unlike in football no hosting country had won the cricket World Cup except Sri Lanka in 96 who lifted the cup in Lahore Australia the all-conquering team had now developed chinks in the armoire with the retirement of its high level players. The cricketing world was looking for a new World Cup championThe early exit of India in the last World Cup made the sponsors of the World Cup a unhappy lot as their commercial interests were aligned with India playing deep into the tournament. Unfortunately the associate nations had to pay a price for their India and Pakistan elimination act in the prior World Cup. The 16 nation tournament of the previous World Cup had India playing in only three matches before their elimination. The organizers to circumvent this possibility took a regressive approach and reduced the tournament to a fourteen nation tournament with two groups of seven nations each guaranteeing India six matches. This was highly criticized by the associate nations however ICC argued that the qualifying associate nations would get to play six matches in the World Cup against the three matches they played in the last World Cup. It was supposed to be a win win situation for all. The organizers decided to do away with the super eights and reintroduce the quarter finals after the league phase
At the onset of the tournament Australia India Pakistan Sri Lanka and South Africa were talked of as serious contenders and the rest were considered mere pretenders the English team included. The associate team Ireland again qualified with Kenya, Netherlands and Canada. India, South Africa, England West Indies were grouped together with Bangladesh Ireland and Netherlands Australia, Sri Lanka ,Pakistan New Zealand were grouped together with Kenya Canada and Zimbabwe.
In their first match India humiliated Bangladesh and avenged their defeat against them in 2007. Sachin Tendulkar was arguably playing his last world cup. In the other group Pakistan defeated Australia putting an end to their 34 match winning streak in the world cups. The league apart from the Irish upsetting the English team ran on the predictable lines with all the big eight teams in the quarters. India sent Australia packing in the quarters ending their twelve year dream run in the world cups. South Africa after promising a lot in the group stage again found a way to choke themselves out against New Zealand. Pakistan and Sri Lanka made it along with India into the semis.
It was a high voltage India vs. Pakistan in the semifinals though the organizers would have liked it to be the final. The media hype reached unprecedented levels and both the prime ministers of the countries watched the match together. Pakistan maintained their record intact of having never defeated India in a World Cup when they succumbed in the semis. New Zealand against remained the perennial bridesmaid as they perfected their semifinal exiting act after their loss to the Lankans
India were in the finals of the 2011 World Cup after eight years and it had been twenty eight years since that day in 83 summer. Will history repeat itself ? that was the question foremost in Indian fans mind all over the world. On April 2 2011 as a packed audience watched in the coliseum like Wankhade Stadium the final reeked of a gladiatorial contest where the biggest “MATADOR” of all Mahinder Singh Dhoni took the Srilankan’s by their horns hitting a winning six to hand over the World cup for the second time in 28 years to INDIA. As the God of Cricket took Centre stage and celebrated in style the Captain Cool Mahinder Singh Dhoni reaffirmed his status as the ultimate poster boy of Indian cricket