Former India skipper Virat Kohli has spoken out about the tremendous pressure he was under when he came out to bat in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium, with Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar back in the dressing room after being bowled out cheaply.
Chasing Sri Lanka’s 274 in the D/N game, Sehwag went for a duck, while Tendulkar could only manage 18 before he was caught by wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara off Lasith Malinga. In walked Kohli, steadying the innings along with Gautam Gambhir (97) with 35 off 49 deliveries.
Thanks to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s unbeaten 91, Indian scored the required runs for the loss of four wickets with 10 balls to spare to lift the trophy.
Exactly 11 years after the historic victory, Kohli narrated the feeling of walking out to bat with India wobbling in the run chase.
“I remember the pressure of walking in to bat. At 2 down for 20, I think it was — Sachin and Sehwag both got out. I was walking in… Sachin Paaji had a brief chat with me when I walked in to say ‘Build a partnership’. And we did build a partnership. Me and Gautam (Gambhir) had a 90-run partnership (83)… I got 35, probably the most valuable 35 that I’ve scored in my cricketing career,” Kohli told RCB Bold Diaries on Saturday.
“I felt very happy that I was a part of putting the team back on track and contributed in whatever way I could and just the thrill of winning the world cup was something unbelievable. And the whole atmosphere of the crowd singing ‘Vande Mataram’, and the ‘Jo jeeta wohi sikandar’ song — it was a surreal moment, that’s something that’s so fresh in our memories even now,” added Kohli.
Elaborating on the feeling in the team, Kohli said that it wanted to give Tendulkar a befitting farewell for the services he had rendered to Indian cricket.
“He (Tendulkar) has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years, it was time we carried him,” were Kohli’s memorable quotes from the evening.
On Saturday, Kohli said he meant every word of it. “I said what I said. It was true; legacy had to be taken forward. Massive shoes to fill, and I think we all have tried to contribute to Indian cricket close to what we can, but his achievements are so great and so far-fetched and done over such a long period of time that it feels surreal to actually be in that process after 11 years, I stand here. I said what I said back then, but now I understand the weight of those expectations.”