In a recent revelation about the 2011 World Cup final, Gautam Gambhir highlighted the player he felt deserved the ‘Player of the Final’ accolade more than MS Dhoni. Although Dhoni was honoured with the award for his unbeaten 91-run performance, Gambhir, who himself contributed a significant 97 runs, believed that another player was more deserving.
India clinched the 2011 World Cup title, beating Sri Lanka in the gripping final.
MS Dhoni’s match-winning 91 earned him the ‘Player of the Final’ award.
Gautam Gambhir’s crucial innings comprised 97 runs.
Under the leadership of MS Dhoni, the Indian cricket team achieved a significant milestone, ending a 28-year-long wait to secure the ODI World Cup. India celebrated a triumphant victory over Sri Lanka at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, successfully chasing down a target of 275 in 48.2 overs. While most fans recall Dhoni’s memorable six from the final, the skipper was rewarded the Player of the Match award for his contributions. However, Gambhir felt that the accolade should have gone to another player and identified Zaheer Khan as his choice for the ‘Man of the Final’.
This surprising viewpoint came to light when Gambhir was commentating during the Bangladesh vs. New Zealand game in the 2023 World Cup. Zaheer Khan’s exceptional bowling in the 2011 final, particularly during the initial spell where he kept Sri Lanka’s score at bay, was mentioned as the reasoning.
Zaheer began the final by delivering three maiden overs and went on to dismiss Upul Tharanga during the seventh over’s opening delivery. In his initial five-over spell, he conceded only six runs. Despite finishing with 60 runs against him, his early performance played a pivotal role in India’s win. With a total of 21 wickets, Zaheer also shared the title of the highest wicket-taker in that World Cup.
Amidst the pressure of chasing 275, India suffered an early setback with the loss of Virender Sehwag. Sachin Tendulkar, too, made an early exit with just 18 runs. However, Gambhir, alongside a then-emerging Virat Kohli, steadied the ship, contributing 83 runs for the third wicket partnership. Following Kohli’s exit, Dhoni partnered with Gambhir, adding another 109 runs, placing India on the path to victory. Though Gambhir fell just short of a century at 97, Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh saw the team through with scores of 91 and 21, respectively. Despite the collective team effort, Dhoni was singled out for his outstanding innings and was awarded the Player of the Match.