The 2011 World Cup triumph will always be etched in the memories of today’s Indian cricketers and fans. It was India’s second World Cup victory after 28 years.
left-handed opener Gautam Gambhir and former skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni were the heroes in the final as they scored 97 and 91* respectively while chasing Sri Lanka’s stiff target of 275. Soon after Dhoni hit the winning six off Nuwan Kulasekara, majority of the Indian players went numb with some of them even shedding tears at the Wankhede.
As the 12 edition of ICC Cricket World Cup is fast approaching, Gambhir has recalled the sweet memories from the showpiece event.
"When I look back now, it has been a very long journey and a very satisfying one. I was just 2 years old when India won the first World Cup but my childhood dream was always to be part of a World Cup-winning team, that was probably my only dream as I was growing up. I remember so many times in the morning I used to wake up thinking that I've been a part of a World Cup-winning team and my grandmother used to tell me I wanted that every day and I had to wait for a very long time,” Gambhir told ICC.
"Yes you regret those three runs because you could have got a hundred and not because of a hundred but I wanted to finish the game. I think more than the hundred, I wanted to be part of the game till the end and finish it so my regret was not about the hundred. Even if I would have scored a hundred, I would have had the same feeling when I scored 97. Probably that was the regret I had but all is well that ends well. Very happy that we could fulfill the dreams of millions of people," he added.
For Gambhir, a player is expected to win the World Cup when he is selected for the country and all he did was his job.
"For me I think it was very satisfying. I feel when you are selected for your national team, you are expected to win the World Cup, you don't go there to fill the numbers on the sheet. Ultimately your job is to win the World Cup for the team. I remember saying after winning the World Cup that mission accomplished, we have done the job that was expected of us and that is how I am. I don't think I did anything extraordinary, that was my job to do it," the southpaw remarked.
Gambhir, who was recently bestowed with the prestigious Padma Shri award, is also known for his credentials in India’s triumphant ICC World T20 campaign in 2007. He was the highest run-scorer in the final of inaugural World T20 with 75 runs.
"That time T20 was not how it is now. It was just the start of the T20 format and lots of teams did not know how to approach T20 games and stuff. We approached it like the 50-over game that the openers should try to bat till the 15th-16th over, if one can do that we'll get to 150-160, which was going to be a very good total.
"Not like these days when you get 150-160 and it gets easily chaseable because people were not used to playing a lot of T20 format. We were losing wickets at regular interval and so I had to bat till the 15th or 16th over and I was actually happy that I could manage to do that."
Gambhir considers himself very fortunate to be a part of that brilliant time for India.
"I was part of some very special things what the team did. If you ask me personally, during that phase we became the No.1 Test side in the world. We were able to win the first CB series in Australia. We were able to win a Test series in New Zealand. We were able to draw a series in South Africa. So from that point of view it was very, very special and then we won the World Cup as well. That phase was very special for me because as a team we could achieve a lot that we had dreamt of.
“Ultimately you want to be part of something special for your country, do something for your country and not many people get that opportunity and honour to represent their country in the World Cup. When I look today, how fortunate can someone be that he got the opportunity to be a part of two World Cup-winning team and doing something special in two World Cup finals, it can't get bigger than that," he asserted.
Having retired from professional cricket later last year, Gambhir said he does miss cricket but it felt more relaxed now.
"It was tough initially because obviously you have done something for the last 25 years so it's always difficult to let that thing go but yes there's a lot of pressure that's off now. Irrespective of what level you play, you still want to be the best you can so till the last moment of my career, I wanted to be the best I could be. So I used to train in the same way and bat the same way in the nets also with that kind of motivation so all that is gone now and the pressure is off," he signed-off.