Former South Africa cricketer Gary Kirsten feels that despite having a great squad the Men in Blue played average cricket in the group stages before getting into the groove as the stakes got higher.
Shared News: Published: April 12, 2019 11:40:27 am
Indian cricket teammates give their coach Gary Kirsten a ride on their shoulders after winning the ICC World Cup 2011 (Express Archive)
Gary Kirsten, who coached India to World Cup glory in 2011, feels they had played average cricket in the group stages before getting into the groove.
Kirsten said, “We had played average through the tournament…We had a really good quarter-final where we were under pressure. In my head, I just thought ‘we are not playing that well and winning. Imagine, when we play well’,” he told the official ICC website.
India beat Australia by five-wickets in the quarters before defeating arch-rivals Pakistan in the semifinals. This setup a final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
In the final, Mahela Jayawardene slammed an unbeaten ton to help Sri Lanka post 274/6. In reply, India lost Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar early and were stuttering at 31/2 at one stage. But, Gautam Gambhir came to India’s rescue as he stitched a partnership of 83 runs for the third wicket with Virat Kohli and scored 97 off 122 balls.
MS Dhoni, the Indian skipper, took India over the finish line after slamming Nuwan Kulasekara for a maximum.
Speaking about the final at Wankhede, Kirsten said, “It was tight all the way. We bowled OK –  is a really competitive score in the final. [I thought] this team was capable of doing that from a batting perspective. That for me was … ‘OK we can lose a few wickets here, we have got too many good players.’ That’s exactly what happened.”
“We just had too many good players. Someone was going to get a hundred, and in the end, Gautam Gambhir got . He was the rock of our batting line-up. We just had great players around,” he added.
Kirsten also revealed that it was Dhoni’s decision to promote himself at number 4. “There was just some thinking around … having a left-hand-right-hand combination against [Muttiah] Muralitharan. That’s why he [Dhoni] was quite keen to go up the order. He just knocked on the window, and said, ‘I want to go in next and I’d be good for that’. I was not going to say no,” Kirsten said.
However, he said that with 161 still required, Kirsten was not very confident but could see the zeal in Dhoni’s eyes to go out in the middle. “I always liked him to finish games. He was the best in the world at that. So in the final, there were still a lot of runs to get. I did have a second thought, but I just could see it in his eyes, he wanted to go bat.”