The jam-packed Wankhede crowd barely had come to grips with Virat Kohli’s dismissal against the run of play when they were sent for another shock when India captain MS Dhoni made his way into the center instead of Yuvraj Singh. India had lost their third wicket and it was all but confirmed that the in-form Yuvraj would walk in at his usual No.5 position but as would fate have it, Dhoni promoted himself and smashed an unbeaten 91 to help India win the World Cup against Sri Lanka in 2011.
A little over 9 years since that fateful day in Mumbai, legendary Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar and former India opener Virender Sehwag revealed the thought process behind suddenly deciding to promote Dhoni instead of Yuvraj.
“The partnership between Gautam and Virat was flourishing and we wanted to be a couple of steps ahead of the opposition. That’s when I told Viru … “if a left-hander (Gautam) gets out now, a left-hander (Yuvi) should go in, and if a right-hander (Virat) gets out, a right-hander (Dhoni) should go in. Yuvi was in tremendous form but Sri Lanka had two off-spinners going, so I thought a strategy change would work,” Tendulkar told Times of India recalling the incident.
Reacting on the incident, Sehwag said that move caught Sri Lanka completely off-guard in the final
“He was right. The left-right combination needed to continue. That change in strategy completely caught the Sri Lankans off guard,” said Sehwag.
Explaining the rationale behind the decision, Sachin said, he had told Sehwag to run downstairs and pass on the suggestion.
“ There were two quality off-spinners in the attack so a left-hand, right-hand strategy made sense. Gautam was batting brilliantly and someone like Dhoni could’ve kept rotating the strike. So I told Viru, ‘tu overs ke beech mein sirf ye baat bahar jaake MS ko bol aur next over shuru hone se pehle waapis aaja. Main yahan se nahi hilne wala (Just go out into the balcony between the overs only to say this much to MS and come back fast before the next over begins. I’m not moving from here),” added Tendulkar.
“Before he could even complete his sentence, we saw MS walking into the dressing room. So, that’s when he (Sachin) repeated the same thing to MS, in front of me,” said Sehwag.
“I asked MS to consider this strategy. He then went to Gary (Kirsten), who was sitting outside. Then Gary came in and all four of us got talking about it. Gary too agreed it was the right thing to do, given the attack on hand. MS also agreed and promoted himself up the order,” Tendulkar said.
The decision turned out to be a masterstroke for India as Dhoni stitched the decisive partnership with Gautam Gambhir, who had scored 97 to give India the platform.
Dhoni finished the match with a six off Nuwan Kulasekara in the penultimate over of the match to send the whole country into a frenzy.
An Article by Hindustan Times