2011 World Cup: When India conquered the world again
Returning to the subcontinent after a span of 15 years, the 10th edition of the Cricket World Cup would perhaps be most remembered for ending batting legend Sachin Tendulkar's two-decade wait for the title as Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys held aloft the coveted trophy and enabled a nation to explode in ecstasy.
It was India's second title triumph in cricket's quadrennial showpiece, the first success having come way back in 1983.
After years of dominating the commercial aspect of cricket, India extended its might to on-field action and re-energised the One-Day International (ODI) format by organising a successful World Cup that saw Bangladesh play hosts for the first time along with India and Sri Lanka.
The terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore in 2009 led to Pakistan being ruled out as a staging centre, though the International Cricket Council (ICC) maintained they were still the co-hosts.
In the lead-up to the event, the hallowed Eden Gardens - which had staged the 1987 final - faced tough times. Complaining of tardy preparatory work, the ICC took away the scheduled India-England game, saying the ground would not be fit in time for the match. However, the ICC allowed the ground to host the other scheduled matches there.
The big tourney, featuring 14 teams and 49 matches -- 29 in India, a dozen in Sri Lanka and eight in Bangladesh - could have been a logistical nightmare, considering the vast distances between the venues and the gruelling travelling that was needed.
But instead, everything was put together neatly.
If the batting powerplay remained a mystery that a majority of the teams failed to completely unravel, the much-debated Decision Review System (DRS) made its entry into the World Cup in this edition.
The DRS was used 182 times in the tournament with the quarter-final between New Zealand and South Africa being the only game where it was not used at all.
Pakistan had not beaten India in a World Cup game and there was no change in the tale as the old foes revived their rivalry at Mohali - this time in the semifinals.
It was Pakistan's fifth straight loss to India in a World Cup match that was watched by the Prime Ministers of both countries. Tickets for the high-voltage match were sold at premium, almost ten times more than their original prices, with 988 million viewers reportedly glued to TV sets surpassing all previous records.
Dropped by Pakistan four times, Sachin Tendulkar scored 85 as India humbled Pakistan by 29 runs.
Overpowered by Sri Lanka in the quarter-finals, England featured in two of the most memorable matches of the tournament, including a tie against India after they failed to get the two runs needed off the final ball to surpass the hosts’ total of 338.
While many described it as one of the greatest one-day matches of all time, another one followed a few days later. Kevin O'Brien hit the fastest century of the World Cup to lift Ireland to victory over England, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in ODI history. Packed with 13 fours and 6 sixes, he reached the three-figure mark in just 50 balls.
While the triumph of slow bowlers was on predictable lines, what was surprising was the extent of their domination. Used liberally by the teams, spinners produced a staggering 11,901 deliveries out of 25,425 balls bowled in the entire tournament, accounting for 290 of the total 668 wickets to fall.
With spin being the dominant force, India and Sri Lanka, who tackled the tweakers better, marched to the final, making it a sub-continental title battle for the first time ever.
In contrast, four-time winners Australia – champions in three successive previous tournaments – fell by the wayside in the quarters, bowing to the might of India.
The final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai began with a controversy right during the time of the toss.
The capacity crowd was so vociferous that the toss had to be done twice as match referee Jeff Crowe failed to hear the call of Sri Lankan captain Kumar Sangakkara.
A century by Mahela Jayawardene ensured a competitive Sri Lankan total of 274 for 6, but opener Gautam Gambhir's 97 and skipper Dhoni's innings of 91 lifted the home team to a victory that was celebrated through the cricket-mad country.
Besides being the highest run chase in a World Cup final, it was also the first time in the tournament’s history that a team won the final on their home soil. In 1996, co-hosts Sri Lanka had lifted the trophy, but the final match was played in Lahore, Pakistan.
The Cup triumph not only ended India's 28-year wait, it was also the last act for a golden generation of players who had taken India to the pinnacle of the sport.
Tendulkar called the victory, which ensured that he ended his World Cup career on a satisfying note, a “dream come true”.
While Sri Lankan ace spinner Muttiah Muralitharan - playing his last international game - failed to script a fairytale swansong, he will always be remembered as one of the most successful and genial cricketers of his generation.