India were the favourites to win the 2011 World Cup and barring their group stage defeat against South Africa, the Men in Blue were having a terrific tournament. After defeating reigning champions Australia in the quarter-finals, India went up against Pakistan who had been the surprise package of the tournament and probably the best team till that point. While India defeated Australia in the quarter-finals, Pakistan had breezed past West Indies to confirm their place in the last four.
This would be the fifth meeting between India and Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup with India having won all previous four meetings in 1992, 1996, 1999 and 2003. However, this match was expected to be a tough test for India as Pakistan had been in terrific form and had the likes of Shahid Afridi, Younis Khan, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Gul and Misbah-ul-Haq in their line-up.
However, India had a pretty powerful team themselves including the likes of Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh, MS Dhoni, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh.
The VIP crowd
The semi-final was held on this very day six years back in Mohali. This match probably had been the most awaited Indo-Pak encounter ever as a lot of hype was being created about the match given the fact that both teams had been knocked out in the first round of the previous World Cup and here they were – in the semi-finals.
The match had a very eminent audience with the Prime Ministers of both nations in addition to many celebrities, politicians, and bureaucrats being in the crowd on that day. And once the national anthems of both teams got over, both Prime Ministers entered the field to greet the players of both nations.
Sehwag’s fiery start
Indian skipper MS Dhoni won the toss and opted to bat first. And the hosts were off to a brilliant start thanks to Virender Sehwag who began to find the fence with much regularity. However, Sehwag couldn’t stay in the crease for long as he was dismissed by Wahab Riaz for 38 off 25 deliveries, 36 of which came in boundaries alone.
Sachin takes centre-stage
After Sehwag’s dismissal, Sachin Tendulkar and Gautam Gambhir began to build a strong partnership and added 68 for the second wicket before Gautam Gambhir was dismissed for 27 by Mohammad Hafeez. Sachin Tendulkar on the other hand, had luck on his side as he was dropped four times during the match.
After Gambhir’s dismissal, Virat Kohli came in and while he was batting with Tendulkar, India’s run rate gradually began to slow down. During the 26th over, Wahab Riaz dismissed Virat Kohli before bowling out an in-form Yuvraj Singh the very next delivery.
Suresh Raina’s finishing touch
The Pakistani bowlers kept on adding pressure on Tendulkar and MS Dhoni as India’s run-rate began to fall below 5. Tendulkar was finally dismissed by Shahid Afridi for 85 off 115 deliveries and Suresh Raina came in to join Dhoni at the crease. Wahab Riaz inflicted further damage by dismissing Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh came on to join Raina. The two began steadily and hit a few boundaries to elevate India’s run-rate before Harbhajan was dismissed by Saeed Ajmal.
Raina scored steadily and got some good assistance from Zaheer Khan who later fell to Wahab Riaz, thus giving the bowler his only five-wicket haul in ODIs. India eventually ended their innings at 260/9 in their 50 overs and Raina remained unbeaten on a gritty 36.
Pakistan’s steady start followed by middle-order downfall
In reply, Pakistan were off to a good start thanks to openers Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez. At this point, India’s pace spearhead Zaheer Khan gave them the important wicket of Kamran Akmal who got dismissed for 19.
Mohammad Hafeez and Asad Shafiq were playing patiently before a clever delivery from Munaf Patel sent the former packing after scoring 43.
After failing with the bat, Yuvraj Singh made a significant contribution with the ball as he dismissed Asad Shafiq and Younis Khan in quick succession to keep Pakistan at 106/4. At this stage, Umar Akmal and Misbah-ul-Haq were at the crease. While Misbah was saving his wicket, Umar Akmal was batting aggressively. However, his aggression didn’t last long as Harbhajan Singh’s brilliance bowled him and sent him back to the pavilion for 29.
Misbah’s final fight
The match was gradually falling away from Pakistan as Abdul Razzaq and Shahid Afridi bit the dust too and the Men in Green were tottering at 184/7. After Afridi’s dismissal, Ashish Nehra inflicted further damage by dismissing Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul to keep India on the brink of reaching the final. Towards the end, Misbah-ul-Haq showed some aggressive intent as he reached his half-century but it was too little too late by then.
During the penultimate delivery of the match, Misbah-ul-Haq skied a Zaheer Khan delivery high in the air before it was taken by Virat Kohli to help India qualify for their third World Cup final. Pakistan ended on 231 with Misbah-ul-Haq top-scoring with 56. All of the Indian bowlers viz. Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh, and Yuvraj Singh took two wickets apiece with Nehra being the most economical of them all.
Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the Man of the Match for his knock of 85 as India booked their place the final against Sri Lanka at Mumbai. This was India’s fifth victory over Pakistan at the Cricket World Cup, thus continuing their unbeaten streak against Pakistan.