Two overs bowled. Fourteen balls faced with the bat. No catches or run-outs. A total of less than five overs was the sum of all contributions by Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar on the night of April 2, 2011 at the Wankhede Stadium.

But for the man who went to complete a century of centuries in a 24-year-long career, scoring a mountain of runs for India, lifting the 2011 World Cup trophy turned out to be the moment he will cherish the most. He was a spectator for a majority of that night, a nervous wreck alongside Virender Sehwag when the run-chase was on. But at the end of it all, it would (in his own words) turn out to be the first time he shed happy tears on a cricket field.

On April 2, 2011 Indian cricket witnessed a six that is unlikely to be ever forgotten. Chances are, you still vividly recall Ravi Shastri’s voice saying “Dhoni finishes off in style” as the Indian captain lofted a full length ball by Nuwan Kulasekara for a six when four runs were needed to win. The iconic bat-twirl followed.

That moment made India the first team to win the World Cup on home soil, 28 years after Kapil Dev’s men had lifted cricket’s biggest trophy at Lord’s in 1983.

A quick recap: in the final, Sri Lanka had set India a target of 275, aided by Mahela Jayawardene’s sublime century. In reply, Lasith Malinga got Tendulkar and Sehwag early, however Gautam Gambhir (97) and Dhoni, who promoted himself up the order scoring an unbeaten 94, led the chase as India won by six wickets.

And for a cricketer who had been through a lot in his 22-year career back then, 2011 World Cup final was clearly a night like no other. As Virat Kohli summed up perfectly, Tendulkar had carried the nation on his shoulders for so long — this was the chance for his teammates to reciprocate.

Tendulkar, since, has reiterated how special the win was.

“That [winning the World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium] was my dream after we lost in 2007,” Tendulkar told Mid-Day back in 2011. “I took up that challenge. I said, the next World Cup is in Mumbai and this is where I would want the trophy. It was a challenge and I started working towards that.”

“After the 2007 World Cup when we got to know that the next one is in India and the final would be held in Mumbai. That is when I felt that this is the place where we have to lift the trophy.”

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more than this. Winning the World Cup is the proudest moment of my life. Thanks to my team-mates. Without them, nothing would have happened. I couldn’t control my tears of joy.”  

— Tendulkar, in the moments after winning 2011 WC

Also read: Dealing with anxiety, winning it for Sachin: 2011 World Cup win in quotes

Magic of sport

In February 2020, India’s winning moments of the 2011 World Cup received global recognition. The celebrations titled ‘Carried on the Shoulders of a Nation’ was declared winner of the Laureus Sporting Moment Award 2000-2020.

“It’s incredible,” Tendulkar said after receiving the trophy. “The feeling of winning the world cup was beyond what words can express. How many times you get an event happening where there are no mixed opinions. Very rarely the entire country celebrates.”

“And this is a reminder of how powerful a sport is and what magic it does to our lives,” the cricketing legend added. “Even now when I watch that it has stayed with me,” he added.

Becker then asked Tendulkar to share the emotions he felt at that time and the Indian legend put in perspective how important it was for him to hold that trophy.

“My journey started in 1983 when I was 10 years old,” Tendulkar said. “India had won the World Cup. I did not understand the significance and just because everybody was celebrating, I also joined the party. But somewhere I knew something special has happened to the country and I wanted to experience it one day and that’s how my journey began.”

“It was the proudest moment of my life, holding that trophy which I chased for 22 years but I never lost hope,” the cricketer added. “I was merely lifting that trophy on behalf of my countrymen.”

Watch that speech here:

In another 2011 interview, Tendulkar spoke about going from a ball boy in 1987 to the victory lap in 2011 and why Dhoni is the best captain:


  “As a young boy I dreamt of winning this trophy; that’s where it all started. This is by far the best moment and it’s the one I’ve been waiting for 24 years. There have been heart-breaking losses; in past campaigns we lost in the semi-finals and finals. I never gave up because this was my dream and now the team has managed to win this cup for the nation.”

— A day after the win, Tendulkar tells ICC

And, finally, why that night was the most special in his career:

What are your memories of that night? Let us know in the comments section.