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Unsung Heroes of World Cup 2011

By Rediff Cricket
April 03, 2021 09:38 IST
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While Sachin Tendulkar was India's highest run-scorer in the 2011 World Cup, with 481 runs in 9 innings, Yuvraj Singh was the Man of the Tournament for his all-round show (362 runs and 15 wickets) and Zaheer Khan the joint-highest wicket-taker, along with Shahid Afridi, with 21 scalps.

These heroes deserve all the credit for their stellar showing throughout the competition. But India had other heroes as well whose contributions at different stages were extremely crucial, but have gone unnoticed in the 10 years since that glorious victory.

Who were they? Meet these unsung Indian heroes:

 

Gautam Gambhir

Gautam Gambhir

IMAGE: Gautam Gambhir's biggest contribution was his 97 runs in the final against Sri Lanka after openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were out. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

With 393 runs, he was India's second highest run-scorer in the 2011 World Cup, only behind Tendulkar.

He scored four fifties in the tournament, including the match-winning one in the final against Sri Lanka, and a crucial one while chasing a target against Australia in the quarter-final.

His biggest contribution -- perhaps the most important of his career -- was his 97 run knock in the final against Sri Lanka. That was after India lost Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag early. Not surprisingly, it is rated as one of the best ODI innings in modern times.

Gambhir battled the early demons with an energetic performance, again putting the team before self. He shared stands of 83 and 109 with Virat Kohli and Mahendra Singh Dhoni en route to guiding the Men in Blue to a successful chase.

He was unlucky to miss out on a century, but laid the platform for India's run-chase. Dhoni won the accolades with an unbeaten 91.

While Yuvraj was hailed as the hero of the tournament and Tendulkar finally basked in the glory of being a World champion, Gambhir was forgotten!

 

Virender Sehwag

Virender Sehwag

IMAGE: Virender Sehwag often got the team off to flying starts. Photograph: Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images

One of the reasons why India posted big scores while batting first in the 2011 World Cup was the flying starts provided by Sehwag and Tendulkar.

Sehwag often got the team off to flying starts. On most occasions, Sehwag would crunch the first ball for four, setting the tone for the innings.

He scored 380 runs in the tournament, at a staggering strike rate of 122.58. In the opening game, he scored a record-breaking 175 runs against Bangladesh.

A pity that he was seldom credited for his heroics during the tournament.

 

Munaf Patel

Munaf Patel

IMAGE: Munaf Patel picked up 11 wickets in eight games. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

Pacer Munaf Patel was Dhoni's most trusted weapon of the tournament after Zaheer Khan.

Whenever the Indian skipper found himself struggling, he would introduce Munaf into the attack. The right-armer may not have set the stage on fire with his bowling, but his consistency in the tournament gave a great balance to the side.

Munaf picked up 11 wickets in eight games, at a low economy rate of 5.36. He also grabbed a four wicket-haul against Bangladesh in the opening match, registering figures of 4-48.

His consistency and his nagging line and length outsmarted many a well-set batsman and big hitter.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina

IMAGE: Suresh Raina was sent as a replacement for Yusuf Pathan in the quarter-final against Australia. Photograph: Hamish Blair/Getty Images

The middle-order batsman did not get enough chances in the tournament, but made the most out of those he got.

Dhoni made a strategic change ahead of the quarter-final against Australia. He picked Raina as a replacement for Yusuf Pathan.

When Raina came out to bat, India were on the verge of losing the game as all their main batsmen were in the pavilion.

Team India had lost Sehwag, Sachin, Dhoni, Gambhir and Kohli. But all credit to Raina who played a vital knock of 34 runs off 28 balls and stitched an amazing partnership of 74 runs with Yuvraj. India won that match against Australia by five wickets.

Raina again scored an important 36 runs in the semi-final against Pakistan, a game India won by 29 runs.

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