Published By: Saksham Mishra

Why MS Dhoni decided to bat ahead of Yuvraj Singh in 2011 World Cup final

MS Dhoni's punt of handing Joginder Sharma the last over in the inaugural T20 World Cup final is much talked about. Dhoni took another such gamble in the final of the 2011 ODI World Cup.

No team had ever won the World Cup in their home conditions. Hosting the ICC World Cup 2011, India had been right on the money to earn their spot in the final after beating arch-rivals Pakistan in the semis.

Another astute subcontinent team was waiting for the home team on the big night. Mahela Jayawardene showed his class in the final by scoring an unbeaten century which took Sri Lanka to a score of 274.

The total was just about par, but things threatened to go pear shaped for India when both their openers Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar were back in the hut within the first 37 balls of the chase. Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir then steadied the ship with a solid partnership but once Kohli was dismissed in the 22nd over, things could have gone horribly wrong for India.

It was a surprise when skipper MS Dhoni decided to walk out to bat at number five, ahead of Yuvraj Singh, who had done a great job for the team, batting at five. 'Captain Cool' who is famous for taking out-of-the-box decisions had sound cricketing logic behind the idea.

One, it upset the plans of the Sri Lankan bowlers. Two, off spinners tend to perform better against left handers as the ball moves away from the batters and Sri Lanka had one of the greatest off spinners of all time, if not the greatest, in Muttiah Muralitharan.

As Muralitharan was part of the Chennai Super Kings franchise, MS Dhoni had enough experience of facing the Sri Lankan spinner in the nets and keeping wickets off his bowling. Hence, he understood his variations. Coach Gary Kirsten and Sachin Tendulkar also agreed to Dhoni's logic.

Mahi, who wasn't having a great tournament until then, did not disappoint, finishing with an unbeaten 91 off 79 deliveries. Dhoni struck 8 fours 2 sixes but what stood out was the manner in which he rotated the strike, first with Gambhir and then with Yuvraj Singh.

Dhoni finished off the game in the penultimate over with an iconic six over long-on off Nuwan Kulasekara to help India lift the trophy.