On 2nd April 2011, India lifted their second World Cup trophy in the history of cricket. The showpiece event was hosted by India itself and they managed to get their hands on the prestigious trophy. Indian players had a dream of finishing the 28-year long drought. So each and every player gave their everything and almost in every game, it was a team effort.
Everyone knew about their roles and their importance. There was no doubt over the fact that the MS Dhoni-led side was way too strong and balanced in comparison to other teams. The best part was that they played like champions in the showpiece event. Team India got some tough competition from the teams like South Africa, England, Australia, and Pakistan during the tournament.
But, after a long hustle, they defeated Sri Lanka in the finals by six wickets to finish the long wait of Indian fans and Sachin Tendulkar, who was playing his last World Cup.
Dhoni was awarded Man of the Match for his unbeaten knock of 91 runs. On the other hand, Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan and Yuvraj Singh were also awarded for their contribution in their respective traits throughout the tournament. However, there are some players name that didn’t come in the spotlight. But, they also played a major role in Team India’s triumph.
So let’s list out the five unsung heroes of Team India’s 2011 World Cup-winning squad:
1. Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir, the former Indian opener’s form was a blessing for Team India in 2011 World Cup. He played at his best throughout the tournament. He consistently played some match-defining knocks for the team. And, no one can forget his flawless knock of 97 runs in the finals that didn’t only bailed India out of the early trouble, it set up the chase nicely.
He came out to bat when the hosts’ lost their in-form opener Virender Sehwag on the 2nd delivery of the innings. Soon Sachin Tendulkar was also dismissed by Lasith Malinga. At that time, Gambhir brilliantly stitched a partnership with young Virat Kohli that took the match away from Islanders.
He scored a total of 393 runs with the help of four magnificent half-centuries. Also, the former player ended as the 2nd leading run-scorer for Team India after Sachin Tendulkar. It is a fact that Gambhir was the man of the finals and he proved that tag by pulling off an influential knock-in high profile final of 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka.
2. Virender Sehwag
Virender Sehwag, the former Indian opener left no stone unturned with his brilliant batting in the tournament. He was in beast mode throughout the mega-event, who used to take the charge against the bowlers from the word go. In the opening game, he played a record-breaking knock of 175 runs against Bangladesh.
He sensibly replicated his good form in the next games and ended up scoring 380 runs with the help of a century and as many half-centuries. The fans should know the fact that Sehwag was the main reason due to which Team India could manage to chase or post big totals. The former was known for his quick batting and he portrayed a great example of it in 2011 World Cup.
He managed to score boundary off the very first ball of the innings in 5 games out of eight. Sehwag helped Team India in getting off to a flying start in majority of the games that turned out to be the biggest plus for MS Dhoni and Co. However, he was seldom credited for his heroics during the tournament.
3. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli was just 22 years old when he played his first World Cup game. The fans had not expected him to come out with flying colours in 2011 World Cup as he was quite young and raw with an experience of just 45 ODIs. However, he proved his critics wrong with his performances. Everyone was left awestruck on how a 22-year-old player can perform so well in high-pressure games.
He scored a ton in his maiden World Cup game against Bangladesh. Later on, he scored a magnificent fifty against West Indies. And, who can forget his brief but vital knock of 36 runs in 2011 World Cup final. He came out to bat when India was struggling at a score of 31 runs with two wickets. The in-form Indian opener Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were sent back to the pavilion in the first seven overs of the innings. The fans lost their hope of winning at that moment but destiny had some other special plans.
Kohli (36 runs) stitched a brilliant partnership with Gautam Gambhir of 83 runs that turned the tables towards Team India. However, he was dismissed by Tillakaratne Dilshan, who took a one-handed blinder that was unbelievable. Overall, he scored 282 runs in his 9 appearances. Kohli did an extra-ordinary job due to which he is picked in our list of unsung heroes from the 2011 World Cup squad.
4. Munaf Patel
Munaf Patel, the former Indian pacer didn’t get the honour equivalent to his performances in World Cup 2011. He was one of the most trusted weapons of MS Dhoni in the mega-event. Whenever the Indian skipper found himself struggling, he used to introduce Munaf Patel in the bowling attack.
Moreover, the fast bowler also managed to live up to the expectations on the majority of the occasions. Munaf Patel accounted for a total of 11 wickets in 8 games for Team India at a low economy rate of 5.36. He also grabbed a four wicket-haul against Bangladesh in the opening match registering amazing bowling figures of 4-48.
He was a vital part of Team India during the 2011 World Cup, who used to give a perfect balance to the bowling unit. Munaf was not a big impact player but an essential one. And, his performances speak a lot about his contribution with the ball.
5. Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina, the middle-order batsman didn’t get enough chances in the 2011 World Cup. But, still, he managed to make the most out of those. MS Dhoni, the Indian skipper made a strategic change ahead of the quarterfinal game against Australia. He picked Suresh Raina as a replacement for Yusuf Pathan.
The fans will be surprised to know that Dhoni’s idea to play Raina ahead of Yusuf went in the team’s favour. Suresh Raina played a vital knock of 34 runs off 28 balls and stitched an amazing partnership of 74 runs with Yuvraj Singh. The interesting thing about his knock was that he could manage to produce it in a high-pressure game after warming bench for long in the tournament.
At the time when Raina came out to bat his team was on the verge of losing the game as all their main batsmen were already sent back to the pavilion. Team India had lost the wickets of Sehwag, Sachin, Dhoni, Gambhir, and Kohli. But, all credit goes to the Raina, who played a vital role in fulfilling the dreams the millions of Indians with the help of his willow.
The hosts won that match against Australia by five wickets. Raina again played a vital knock of 36 runs in the semi-finals against arch-rivals Pakistan that India won by a margin of 29 runs.
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