2011: Cricket World Cup triumph gave India cause for celebrations
New Delhi, December 31, 2011
The year 2011 brought glad tidings for Indian cricket as the "men-in-blue" led by mercurial skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni held aloft the World Cup after a long gap of 27 years and swashbuckling opener Virender Sehwag became the highest scorer in the one-day format by cracking a double century surpassing compatriot batting legend Sachin Tendulkar's record of unbeaten 200 runs.
But the team ended up losing its numero uno spot in Test rankings, getting trounced 0-4 by England on foreign territory.
Tendulkar finally added one of the rare honours to his already much feathered cap which had been eluding him in a glittering career by being part of the India team that won the World Cup on home soil.
The images of Dhoni heaving a six to win the final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai, and jubilant players carrying a misty-eyed Tendulkar on their shoulders and embracing tearful Yuvraj Singh, were watched by millions of fans glued to their TV sets across India.
That magical night was the culmination of an effort that began under the tutelage of Indian cricket team's coach, Gary Kirsten, and its captain Dhoni from the time they paired up in 2007 to steer India from a team prone to capitulation to a band of world beaters.
That result ended a 28-year drought of smelling the World Cup. Winning the World Cup was a dream harboured by the likes of Tendulkar since he debuted almost two decades back.
This was what Indian cricket teams had aspired for since Kapil Dev raised the trophy on the Lord's balcony in 1983, and it helped erase the bitter memories of 1992, 1996, 1999 and, most famously, 2007.
However, India's triumph in the one-day arena was not matched in Tests, where they suffered the humiliation of failing to win a single game on a full tour of England in which they were blanked in four Tests and lost the top ranking in Test cricket to their opponents in the process.
England reclaimed the No 1 ranking for the first time since 1979.
If there was one more figure that gave Indian fans a defining moment in 2011, it was Sehwag.
He earned the most impressive milestone of the year, hitting a world-record score in one-day internationals by smashing 219 off 149 balls while leading Team India against the West Indies in Indore, December 8, for the highest individual score in ODIs.
Tendulkar had held the record until now at 200.
A series win over West Indies followed, during which the debut performance of R Ashwin in the Tests and Sehwag's brutal inning in the ensuing ODIs gave the fans something to write home about.
But the year did not end on a happy note as the ageing Indian team, despite the presence of the trio -- Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman --suffered a punch in the Boxing Day Test -- a humiliating defeat of 122 runs at the hands of a youthful Australian squad, forcing the Indian cricket to wear their thinking caps on what strategy to adopt against the Aussies next year as bouncy tracks are going to make life difficult for the Indian squad, which is used to adding wins to its kitty on placid turfs back home.
The spotlight was trained on Tendulkar, who has not been able to shake off the demon of scoring his hundredth hundred for the last nine months.
As Tendulkar carries the burden of expectations again for the milestone century to the next Test match -- it is now battleground Sydney.