Reasons why India deserved the World Cup
There are several factors that lead to India's victory in the ICC World Cup 2011. A short rewind of Team India's tough march towards the 'cup that counts'.
The ICC World Cup 2011 held in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka kicked off in grand style in Bangladesh on 19th February 2011 with a terrific opening match between two of the hosts - India and Bangladesh. India won the match in style but was also severely criticized for their below par bowling performance.
The Indian team's think tank and especially the captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni had come under heavy criticism from the mass, media and from former players even before the start of the cup for the inclusion of leggie Piyush Chawla in the team. Chawla's inclusion was a complete surprise because he had not even featured in one match that was played by India a year before the World Cup.
The injury to pacer Praveen Kumar also did not help India's cause. The matches that followed the opener between India and Bangladesh were even tougher. The match that was tied to England and the loss to South Africa even made fans think of an early Indian exit from the tournament. It was not supposed to end that way. India marched onto the Quarter-finals handsomely finishing second in the group.
But the road to the cup was getting even tougher as India had to play the toughest of the quarter-final matches. India's opponent in the quarter-final was Australia the champions of the last three world cups and undoubtedly the toughest team to beat on any given day. Coming into that quarter-final match Australia had an amazing record of 35-1 in their favour since 1999. But Ricky Ponting's men did not trouble the 'men in blue' much and Australia had to return from a world cup tournament empty-handed for the first time since 1999.
This emphatic victory in the quarter-final paved the way for one of the most thrilling and awaited matches in world cup history - INDIA vs PAKISTAN. It was aptly called 'the final before the final'. The Pakistanis gave the Indians a run for their money but eventually India pulled off a historic win and it was the Indian flag that was flying high at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium in Mohali.
The ICC World Cup Final 2011 featured two Asian giants for the first time in World Cup history - India and Sri Lanka. Both the teams were playing each other for the first time in this tournament and a clear prediction of the result was nearly impossible. Sri Lanka won a controversial toss and chose to bat and they set a tough target of 275 for India to chase. Though there were anxious moments for the Indian fans it was indeed team India that lifted the most priced possession in world cricket after 28 long years.
India's road to the world cup victory was not an easy one. This team which finally played to its potential in the world cups for the first time since 1983 definitely deserved nothing less than a victory.
Here are some factors that lead to India's victory in the ICC World Cup 2011:
<h3>Batting</h3> India undoubtedly had the best batting line-up in the tournament. All the batsmen had strike rates of over 82.00 which is considered 'great' in One-day cricket. The depth of the batting is clear from the fact that India did not play their most destructive batsman Yusuf Pathan in most of the matches.
<h3>Fielding</h3> India was never considered as a great fielding unit. But the commitment the players showed on the field especially during the knock-out stages was extra-ordinary. Even a 38 year old Tendulkar was throwing himself around to save crucial runs. Fielding was the major difference between the teams during the semi-final match against Pakistan in which Pakistan dropped critical catches which ultimately proved too costly for them.
<h3>Captain Cool Cool</h3> The Indian cricket team has never had a captain who looked so cool on and off the field and had the ability to hold their nerves even in the toughest of situations until the arrival of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Dhoni has captained the side exceptionally well even when he is carrying the additional burden of wicket-keeping on his shoulders. He is also a batsman who India relies on. This man from Jharkhand has rarely let the team down. His batting form was severely criticized until the final where he played a thriller of an innings scoring 91* off just 79 balls. He took India to victory with a huge six and became the first ever 'wicket-keeper captain' to lift the world cup.
<h3>The presence of a God</h3> No other team in the world has had the virtue of having a cricketing God in their dressing room. This God has been with 'Team India' for 21 years and will be definitely around for more. He is India's own Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Sachin's worth in the team is unquestionable especially when he finished as India's leading run-scorer in the tournament and ensuring an Indian victory in the semi-final with a gritty knock of 85. He also scored two centuries in the tournament.
<h3>The X Factor</h3> India's 'X factor' in this world cup was someone quite unexpected and whose selection in the team itself was questioned by many before the tournament kicked off. Yuvraj Singh made his presence felt not just with his usually explosive and graceful batting but with ball as well. He was India's best all-rounder and picked up four man of the match awards in various matches before being adjudged as the 'player of the tournament'.
<h3>Bowling</h3> India's bowling never looked promising until the knock-out stage. What we witnessed once the knock-out stage began was a totally different and rejuvenated bowling attack. Zaheer Khan was the pick of the bowlers and finished as the tournament's leading wicket-taker along with Pakistan's Shahid Afridi.
<h3>The Kirsten Effect</h3> India has done well under the guidance of coach Gary Kirsten. He played a significant role in India emerging as the No.1 team in both Test and One-day International cricket (ICC rankings).
<h3>The Crowd</h3> The crowd has been terrific for all of India's matches. Cheering every run and evoking that dreadful silence each time the opposition team gained an upper hand. It must have definitely boosted up the players' confidence.
<h3>Home Grounds</h3> India had the chance to play all of their matches except the opening match against Bangladesh in home soil. Playing on familiar grounds always helps a team's cause.
<h3>A Billion Hopes</h3> Now for those who believe in God and his mystic powers - which God can deny the hopes and prayers of a billion people? If prayers are answered, then this may be taken as an example.
The image of Kapil Dev lifting the world cup at Lord's in 1983 was so far the best image in an Indian cricket fan's mind. For a country where cricket is a hair-raising emotion, a common religion and a part of everyday life, this is the greatest gift Dhoni and his men could give. Let's thank Dhoni and the warriors for bringing the cup back to India after 28 years and also for living up to all our expectations. No doubt, they made Bharat Mata proud! Jai Hind!