Cometh the hour, cometh the man. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself to No. 5 and hit an unbeaten 91 from 79 balls to steer India to glory against Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final in Mumbai, ending a 28-year-long wait for the Indians.
It was the final match up that a brilliant 2011 World Cup deserved, arguably the two best sides in the the tournament who were well matched in all departments were set up to battle it out in front of a huge global audience as India aimed to end 28 years of World Cup hurt. Sri Lanka had found their way to the final with a crushing 10 wicket hammering of England in the Quarter-Final and a tighter 5 wicket win over the tournament's surprise package in New Zealand.
India however had not had it all their own way en route to the final. They had to dig deep and overcome a Ricky Ponting century to beat Australia by 5 wickets in the quarter final before the amazing occasion for the semi-final in Punjab against old rivals Pakistan. It was Sachin Tendulkar's 85 and an all-round effort with the ball that saw the home side score a 29 run win and seal their spot in Mumbai.
And so came the final, a sold-out Wankhede Stadium, billions watching worldwide and it was Sri Lanka for whom everything seemed to be going swimmingly well at first. After winning the toss and opting to bat, Sri Lanka reached a formidable 274 for 6 courtesy a truly sublime century from Mahela Jayawardene. Lasith Malinga removed Virender Sehwag for a duck and then silenced the Wankhede Stadium crowed with the wicket of Sachin Tendulkar for 18. But Dhoni, who had scored only 150 runs in seven innings prior to the final, was determined to rewrite the script.
Tillakaratne Dilshan took a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove Virat Kohli for 35 and leave a somewhat nervous India at 114 for 3. Yuvraj Singh, who was in Man of the Tournament form was expected to walk in next at his usual No. 5 position. But it was the captain himself that made his way out to the middle.
With Gautam Gambhir going well at the other end, Dhoni took his time getting set. For the first ten overs, Dhoni didn't even hit a single boundary. He ran the ones and twos hard and maintained the run-rate. But just as Gambhir began to flag, Dhoni shifted gears instantaneously, piercing the gaps with ease. Even an ailing back wasn't going to deter him.
While Gambhir fell for 97, Dhoni remained unflappable as ever. An upper-cut six over point was just a glimpse of what was in store for Sri Lanka. When it all boiled down to 27 required of 24 balls, Dhoni pummeled three boundaries to reduce it to 5 off 12. Yuvraj ran a single and a nation held it's breath as it stood on the verge of a second World Cup victory.
MS Dhoni gave the crowd the fairytale ending they were waiting for, finishing the game with a majestic six. Dhoni held his pose as he watched the ball, Yuvraj began to celebrate before the ball had even gone for six and the man they call Captain Cool had sealed his place in history.
"If we hadn't won, I would have been asked quite a few questions: why no Yuvraj, why did I bat ahead? That pushed me and motivated to do well. The pressure had got to me in the previous games. In this game, I wanted to bat up the order and Gary (Kirsten) backed me. I had a point to prove to myself."