‘When Dhoni walked down the stairs, I turned to Gary and said ‘Do you realise he is going there to fetch us the World Cup?’


The Prelude

June 24, 2010: 10 months earlier than World Cup
India was enjoying the remaining of the Asia Cup

That morning at the breakfast desk, Gary Kirsten requested the query: “If this was the World Cup final, do you think we are ready as a team to go out there and win?” The reply, between bowling coach Eric Simons, Gary and myself was “No”. We don’t assume we’re prepared to win a World Cup if it have been right now. That actually sparked the dialog in earnest and element. Like what are the issues we want to do in the subsequent 10 months? We spent the subsequent 10 months, actually each single day, making ready the workforce, in order that after we arrived at the World Cup, we’d be prepared.

Natural Cup nerves

Feb 19, 2011: Game 1 (Bangladesh)
Playing the opening recreation at Dhaka, Virender Sehwag blasted 175 as India strolled house by 87 runs.

We didn’t put an excessive amount of strain on ourselves to attempt and win each one in all the spherical robin video games. So I assume we went there with the pure nerves of beginning a World Cup, however as a workforce very ready, and luckily, pretty conversant in the type of situations in Bangladesh as nicely.

We targeted on the course of and let the outcomes take care of themselves. It wasn’t simply rhetoric and ideas and concepts. It was one thing that we have been actually loving at the time, as finest we may. We have been specializing in the course of. The type of cricket we have been enjoying, we knew that if we performed actually good cricket persistently for 100 overs of an ODI recreation, we’d win extra video games than not. If we did that, we had an excellent likelihood of going on to win the World Cup.

So we actually didn’t concentrate on shedding or successful, however on the type of cricket we’re enjoying. We knew at that time that we have been already enjoying good cricket all through the 100 overs of a one-day recreation, each with the bat and ball. The focus was to preserve enjoying the very best cricket and not fear an excessive amount of about the outcome. In the opening match, it was the standard type of nerves, a mix of nerves and pleasure of beginning what was going to be a very massive match, the place we had very massive targets.

After 4 unsuccessful makes an attempt in 1996, 1999, 2003 and 2007, Sachin Tendulkar was part of the workforce which received the World Cup in 2011.

How Ashwin noticed it coming

Feb 27: Game 2 (England)
Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel bowling India to an unimaginable tie.

Before the England recreation, Ravichandran Ashwin and me emerged out of elevators into the breakfast space at the similar time. I bear in mind it clearly, Ashwin asking me, “Paddy, do you believe in fate?” and I said, “how come?” And he went, “I just believe that we are meant to win this tournament.” There was such a peaceful knowingness about the dialog. It wasn’t someone attempting to consider or attempting to create a optimistic thought. It was a deep knowingness. I should say I not often felt it earlier than and one thing in my head said, ‘don’t get caught up on this’ however there was an actual sense.

The actual optimistic we took from that recreation was how we stood up and performed actually good cricket at key moments, after we wanted to management the recreation again. So that was an actual massive optimistic that underneath that type of strain, towards one in all the greater groups like England, we have been in a position to maintain our nerve. Particularly in the bowling division – we most likely went into that match barely stronger in our batting division. So it was very nice to see bowlers rise up and be counted after they wanted to.

Munaf particularly bowled fantastically. We had labored fairly a bit collectively. What was actually nice was that Munaf actually opened up to me and instructed me about his youth and upbringing. I’m unsure how public it is the place Munaf got here from and what he went by way of in his course of to turning into knowledgeable cricketer. It actually is an incredible and heart-wrenching story. So in actually understanding the place he got here from, I was in a position to join with him in his means and in his “language”, so to communicate.

For Munaf, it was not likely a lot about using sports activities psychology ideas, or concepts or instruments, because it was about having conversations to assist be certain that he was simply in the most relaxed temper. He carried out rather well when he was aggressive. If he wasn’t aggressive sufficient, he wasn’t engaged sufficient in the battle. And if he turned too aggressive, it could begin working towards him. So it was actually simply to assist him keep in his very confrontational, aggressive mindset that might get him into the very best area. So he was truly an actual pleasure to work with as a result of he was actually open.

I was not sitting with him as a psychological conditioning coach however somebody actually concerned with listening to someone’s story, and his story is fascinating. So it was about one human being actually interested in the different with out intentionally doing it.

Munaf Patel, World Cup winner who once earned Rs 35 a day at tile factory, retires a happy man With 11 wickets, Munaf Patel was the third highest wicket-taker for India in the 2011 World Cup. (File photograph)

It all performed in Yuvraj’s fingers

March 6: Game 3 (Ireland)
The begin of Yuvraj Singh’s World Cup legend, he dazzles with each bat and ball.

In a means enjoying the minnows did play into Yuvraj’s fingers. They weren’t considerably high-pressure video games, and there was no bowler who was significantly quick to hassle him. It was a reasonably medium-pressure expertise, bowling to their batsman and going through their bowlers. He has typically actually thrived in these average- or medium-pressure situations. So it actually did play into his favour, on high of him being nicely ready, and clearly, actually driving a wave of confidence at the time. So all of it simply performed into his fingers.

At that point, there wasn’t clear proof that he was scuffling with something. And I assume, luckily, he had additionally acquired himself most likely fitter than he had been for a lot of his profession and for that specific match. So it was the further health that was in a position to see him by way of the difficulties he would have been experiencing together with his respiration.

It was not one thing that we seen and spoke about. In truth, it was solely in direction of the finish of the match, and significantly in the remaining, that you got here to know he was truly throwing up in the change room. It is then we began to discover issues and even then, in the remaining, he may simply excuse or cross it off as potential nerves.


Not counting on a couple of good males

March 9: Game 4 (The Netherlands)
India stumble whereas chasing 191, Yuvraj to rescue once more.

It’s all the time harder in a match like the World Cup to play an underdog. As the underdog, you don’t have anything to lose, there’s no disgrace in shedding. So you’re in a position to absolutely categorical your self. Contrarily, as the favorite, you have the whole lot to lose, so one can take strain onto the shoulders. So that was most likely the issue, to attempt and not take the strain of being the clear favorite in these video games and to actually exit there and concentrate on enjoying the finest cricket that we may play towards barely weaker groups, these that aren’t of the similar high quality as a few of our different opponents.

But at the similar time, the entire preparation of the workforce for that match was that we can’t depend on anyone or two or three people to carry us by way of most of the match. Every one in all us, sooner or later, ought to have the option to rise up and lead or ship for the workforce. If it’s not your day, what’s essential is to get in line and actually assist the particular person whose day it is. So we weren’t taking a look at Sachin or Sehwag to dominate each time. Or, because it emerged, Yuvi. It was a case of each particular person taking the area and looking for for it to be your day, realizing that solely two or three of you will even have the day as theirs. If it is not your day, then go and assist the guys who’re in good type.

Win or loss, Dhoni’s reactions are similar

March 12: Game 5 (South Africa)
From cruising at 269/1, India undergo their solely lack of the match.

Dhoni reacts equally to wins and losses, in that he doesn’t say very a lot in any respect. In the workforce conferences, he was very a lot Captain Cool. He largely allowed Gary to do the talking put up video games. Gary too is very measured. He talked like there was little distinction between the two sides. The conversations have been round the similar strains, the type of cricket we performed, the place we did nicely, and what may we do higher subsequent time. So between Dhoni and Gary, we had a really calm, level-headed management that didn’t get overexcited with successful or overly involved with shedding. That went a good distance simply to assist gamers mentally. Mentally, they have been on a fair keel by way of the ups and downs and pressures of a giant match like the World Cup.

However, the defeat introduced a sure humility to our batting line-up. It made us actually realise that at no level can we relaxation on our laurels or take our foot off the pedal, even when we’ve had an unbelievable begin.

Another factor was a few of the batting stoop occurred in and round Dhoni, and we knew that wasn’t an issue. We knew that when it actually counted, Dhoni was going to come to the social gathering. We didn’t assume he would take so long as he did. But we have been assured he was all the time going to come to the social gathering.

We knew no workforce can contact us

March 20: Game 6 (West Indies)
India’s most medical recreation. Yuvraj’s 100 takes India to 268, Zaheer Khan scalps three, Windies all out for 188.

We didn’t realise how essential it was to take your type into the knockouts in any match. We didn’t have that consciousness then – there weren’t sufficient T20 tournaments. Teams which can be up and down and even people who don’t begin nicely, study from errors. Those are the ones who take confidence from qualifiers. We undoubtedly knew that although we had good phases, we seldom performed the full 100 overs the means we all know we have been able to. That West Indies recreation was an actual confidence-booster. We began to see how troublesome we’d be if we play to our potential. We knew no workforce can contact us. We began to really feel that after that recreation.

Yuvraj Singh acknowledges his half century as he stands with Virat Kohli throughout the Cricket World Cup Group B match between India and West Indies, in Chennai. (Source: AP)

We wanted Raina to ship, and he did

March 24: Quarter-final (Australia)
Chasing 260, Suresh Raina’s thrilling cameo and Yuvraj’s fifty assist India win the most troublesome World Cup recreation.

Almost each recreation, Gary would say: “It’s not going to be everybody’s game. Only for one or two of you, it will turn out to be your day. So as soon as you find yourself in that place, make sure you take it as deep as possible.”

Suresh was all the time an thrilling, flamboyant cricketer. He performs a high-risk recreation which when it comes off, he takes it to the opposition. How many instances have we seen Suresh hitting the first ball of the over to the boundary! He likes to assault, likes to get on the entrance foot and put strain on the opposition. He had the high quality to depart an affect on that World Cup and he delivered that day. We have been underneath correct strain in that chase, we weren’t forward at any stage. We wanted him and Yuvraj to have that mature partnership. One would have thought it was MS Dhoni territory however we had Yuvraj, who had already achieved so nicely, do it once more for us. In truth, earlier than the match, Yuvraj had a dream the place he had visions of him hitting the remaining’s successful runs! In his dream, it was hitting it towards Australia. Effectively, the 4 he hit off Brett Lee was a manifestation of that dream. It wasn’t the remaining nevertheless it was towards Australia, very shut to a remaining.

Yuvraj SIngh and Suresh Raina celebrating after successful the World Cup quarter remaining match towards Australia, in Ahmedabad. (Express photograph by RAVI KANOJIA)

Everyone was conscious that Pak win would imply they going to the remaining and staying at the Taj, a 26/11 terror goal

March 30: Semi-final (Pakistan)
Tendulkar’s 85 takes India to 260. Five bowlers take two wickets apiece to shoot out Pakistan for 231.

The fierce Indo-Pak rivalry is extra about spectators; gamers themselves don’t have that fierceness and animosity. They know one another pretty nicely and get alongside nicely. Pakistan was all the time a very simple recreation for which to put together the Indian workforce for as they didn’t want any further motivation.

There was an extra extraneous political strain that no person spoke about however everyone was conscious about: if India misplaced, Pakistan would go to Mumbai and keep at the exact same Taj Hotel that was a goal of the terrorist assaults. Each one in all us knew the symbolism of that with out having to say it. That was not likely best to enable Pakistan to win and go to keep at Taj; it didn’t stack up on an lively stage. So, there was that further strain that this was to be a non-negotiable recreation to lose.

Sachin had performed 5 World Cups. Not simply immensely skilled, he was heads and shoulders above the workforce when it comes to his accomplishments, however he was a workforce participant. He didn’t overly communicate an excessive amount of in workforce conferences however when one thing wanted to be said, he would say it – and when he did, which wasn’t fairly often, it had gravitas and gamers would pay attention. It was his final World Cup and gamers knew the solely factor he didn’t have in his trophy cupboard was a World Cup. I know lot of gamers had dedicated to saying they need to win and present him the World Cup. He knew that he had that assist. Sachin wasn’t ready for different gamers to present him that Cup; he knew his time was going to come to do his half in bringing it house. We noticed that in the innings he performed.

India’s Sachin Tendulkar is carried by fellow workforce members after Team India received the 2011 Cricket World Cup in Mumbai. (Source: PTI)

Mind, physique, spirit and soul blowing

April 2: FINAL (Sri Lanka)
India wanted 275 for the Cup, they scored 277. Dhoni sealed it with a six after Gambhir performed the Rock.

There was actually no considerations about it being a cakewalk or taking the ft off the pedal. The gravitas of enjoying a World Cup remaining in Mumbai wasn’t misplaced on any single participant or assist workers. It was about whether or not we are able to preserve the gamers on a fair keel and not get them overly excited and anxious. If followers assume it was a giant second that day, you should know what it was like in the workforce lodge and the workforce bus driving to the stadium to play a World Cup remaining in India at the world’s noisiest cricket stadium. The entire theme over the final 10 months was about the type of cricket we performed and not about successful or shedding. It was about every participant taking duty when it was their second to bowl or bat. That actually was the problem, to keep inside that course of and not let the thoughts run away to the finish the place we had both received or misplaced the cup.

If we return 10 months, one in all the methods we devised was to deal with the strain of the World Cup that nobody had ever dealt with earlier than. One of the methods we ensured it was that each time we had a workforce assembly – in these 10 months, in any recreation we performed – Gary or myself would use the language ‘when we play the final of the World Cup or when we play the final in Mumbai’. That was the two methods we prefaced each single assembly for these 10 months. Players would have heard that fifty instances from Gary’s mouth and 25 instances from me. We may be enjoying Australia in Nagpur in that part, however as an alternative of simply speaking about that match, we’d say, ‘when we play the final in Mumbai’’ and then speak about the type of cricket we wished to play.

We by no means said, ‘when we win’; it could all the time be ‘when we play the final’. So the gamers have been used to that and after we reached the remaining, the gamers have been used to going to that place so many instances of their heads. We have ready each single time we met the final 10 months – plus longer than that in our lives – we have now ready for this second. And we’re prepared for this second. And this is not a shock or further massive second. This is what we have now been making ready for. The key was to protect that temper – we have now ready, we have now the recreation plan, we have now the whole lot we want, we don’t want to do something completely different, intelligent, or particular – we’re prepared.

Nothing in my life compares to what I felt when that ball left Dhoni’s bat and all of us realised that it was going the distance. I can’t inform you how lengthy that feeling lasted – three minutes, quarter-hour, I don’t know. That ecstasy flowing by way of my physique – if I may bundle it and promote it, I can be the richest man in the world. It was thoughts, physique, spirit and soul blowing.

Talking about the remaining, I want to point out Gautam Gambhir’s contribution. Everyone talks about Dhoni’s innings however Gambhir held the whole inning collectively. Mind you, Gambhir performed his finest cricket with Sehwag, a flamboyant and expansive batsman who was so thrilling to watch. Gambhir, in the meantime, was the nuggety little man at the different finish. Gary all the time used to name him “The Rock”. He was so secure and constant. When India would do nicely, it could all the time be Sehwag on the highlights bundle. Gambhir did what he had achieved all by way of his profession – he was Mr Stable, not the present pony, not the man enjoying superb pictures. He was the glue that held the Indian batting collectively. The Test workforce had Rahul Dravid as The Wall, the one-day workforce had Gambhir as The Rock.

I typically get requested about Dhoni’s elevation in the batting order, him going forward of Yuvraj. This is a first-hand recollection and not a narrative that I heard. To begin with, Dhoni all the time likes to keep inside the dressing room throughout a recreation and not sit out. It was the similar that day. He was behind the full glass frontage that is there at the Wankhede dressing room. Gary was sitting outdoors and I was proper subsequent to him. I bear in mind distinctly, I heard a knock on the window. Gary and I turned round the similar time. It was Dhoni, he indicated he was batting subsequent. That was it. Sign language. Gary simply nodded. There was no speak between the two. Dhoni had made the determination that this was the time for him to rise up and do what Dhoni does. He would do what he is the finest in the world at – which is seeing a workforce house in a chase in the second innings in a white-ball recreation. He had delivered nothing in the eight video games earlier than the remaining. Yuvraj had achieved his bit, he had performed his match. He was achieved, he was spent. That second was arrange for somebody like Dhoni. There are only a few gamers in the world who’re real “massive high-pressure” gamers. Yuvraj Singh is not a kind of, Dhoni is. The second ‘t just a testimony to his leadership and courage, it spoke a lot about his relationship with Gary. Mind you, Gary didn’t have to rise up and have a dialog with Dhoni to focus on the deserves and demerits of the transfer. It was simply the two leaders of the workforce being on the similar web page. The knock on the glass, him pointing to himself, Gary’s nod… and it was achieved. I do bear in mind very clearly when Dhoni walked down the stairs, I turned to Gary and said “Do you realise Dhoni is going there to fetch us the World Cup?” I had absolute conviction that Dhoni would come again with the trophy.

Indian workforce after successful the ICC Cricket World Cup. Express photograph by Kevin D’Souza.



The Indian workforce suffered an enormous type stoop after the remaining with stars like Tendulkar and Zaheer failing to match their Cup performances ever.

In hindsight, it was very clear to myself and Gary that we knew that we’d end our tenures after the World Cup, no matter the place India completed. So we had deliberate and ready for the World Cup, however not for ‘what next’. The finest analogy that I can use is that of mountaineers. About 80 per cent of the mountaineers who die on the mountains are on their means down. The cause being that they plan to go to the high, however don’t plan to get down. We made the similar mistake as the mountaineers. We have been leaving however we didn’t have the perception to inform the workforce or the BCCI that ‘you guys need to have firm post-World Cup plans’. So I assume all of us are answerable for the workforce drifting for 12 to 18 months. They got here down to earth for the massive bump.


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