A 22-year-old Virat Kohli, who was still not the cricket superstar that he is, walked out to bat in a World Cup final even as his idol, Sachin Tendulkar was walking back to the pavilion afr getting out for just 18, breaking the hearts of a million Indians.
Chasing 275 against Sri Lanka on the night of the big final at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, Virat Kohli could feel the pressure. Inda had had several World Cup heartbreaks between 1983 and 2011 and Kohli was tasked with the responsibility of making sure there wasn’t another one when he was sent at No. 4. India were reeling at 31/2 after a stunning new-ball burst from Lasith Malinga.
Recalling the memorable World Cup 2011 triumph on its 11th anniversary, Virat Kohli revealed a piece of advice from “Sachin paaji” as he walked into the field. Kohli scored 35, which he calls the most crucial 35 of his career, helping steady the ship with an 83-run stand with Gautam Gambhir, who stole the show with a match-wnning 97 before MS Dhoni’s blitzkrieg (91 off 79).
Before that winning six was hit, there was hard work done by Kohli and Gambhir. They weathered the storm and made sure Malinga did not run away with the game. Kohli got out in the 22nd over, after being caught by Tilakaratne Dilshan off his own bowling.
“I remember the pressure of walking into bat, at 2 down for 20. Sachin and Sehwag both got out. Sachin paaji had a brief chat with me when I walked in. He said ‘build a partnership. We did build a partnership, me and Gautam Gambhir, and we added 90 runs,” Kohli told RCB on Saturday.
“Probably the most valuable 35 that I scored in my cricketing career. I was very happy that I was a part of putting the team back on track, and contributed in whatever way I could.”
Kohli recalled the atmosphere on the big night at the Wankhede, saying the memories of the crowd singing Vande Maataram still remains fresh.
“The thrill of winning the World Cup was something unbelievable.
“The whole atmosphere of the crowd singing Vande Mataram and Joh Jeeta Wohi Sikander’s song, it was a surreal moment and that’s something that’s is still so fresh in our memories.”
‘TENDULKAR’S ACHIEVEMENTS SO GREAT’
Kohli had come up with a heartwarming gesture when he lifted Sachin Tendulkar on his shoulders along with his teammates and took the victory lap in Mumbai as the celebrations went late into the night.
“Tendulkar has carried the burden of the nation for 21 years; It was time we carried him. Chak de India,” he had said after India beat Sri Lanka.
Looking back at those words, Kohli said Tendulkar’s achievements for the country has been peerless and having carried the burden of expectations on his shoulders over the last decade, he clearly understands what Tendulkar went through during his 25-year-long celebrated career.
“I said what I said. It was true,” Kohli said.
“His legacy had to be taken forward and those were massive shoes to fill. I think we have all tried to contribute to Indian cricket close to what he can but I think 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.”