The 2011 World Cup quarter-final between India and Australia was more of a game of nerves than the sport itself. If Brett Lee took the field even after getting hit by the ball, causing his forehead to bleed, Suresh Raina used his captain’s emotions as an incentive to win the match for his side.
In a conversation with former Indian opening batsman Aakash Chopra, Suresh Raina explained what was going through his mind when going to bat against Australia in Ahmedabad. In pursuit of a stiff total of 261, Virender Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, and Gautam Gambhir all chipped in well enough.
Nevertheless, the middle-order stuttered, and things got worse when captain MS Dhoni departed for a single-digit score. At 187-5, when the keeper-batsman went back to the pavilion, the men in blue still needed 74 off 75 deliveries to dethrone the four-time champions. While Yuvraj Singh a genuine match-winner on his day was struggling to time the ball.
“Tendulkar tapped me and said ‘You will win the match for India today”: Suresh Raina
At the dressing room, Suresh Raina recalled that the batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar expressed confidence in him to win the match for India. Yet, it was MS Dhoni’s abject emotion that leads the southpaw to decide that he would leave no stone unturned to get India over the finish line.
It was after the six off Brett Lee that ensured the 34-year old that the Men in Blue would emerge triumphantly. Suresh Raina remained unbeaten at the end of innings with 34 off 28 balls while Yuvraj scored 57 to guide India to a five-wicket win. India would beat Pakistan in the semi-final and go on to win the World Cup after 28 years by defeating Sri Lanka in the final.
“Virender Sehwag was sitting on my right and Sachin Tendulkar on the left. Tendulkar tapped me and said ‘You will win the match for India today’. He touched me thrice and then he wears that Sai Baba’s bracelet and the blessing I got made me feel that it’s my day to win the game for India. As I was walking I saw MS Dhoni’s sad face while walking back to the pavilion. At that very moment I decided I would not miss this chance and will win the match at any cost,” the Uttar Pradesh cricketer said as quoted by India Today.
“Australia removed the off-spinners from the attack and they were the only threat for us. After a six off Brett Lee I was sure that we will win, the momentum kept on shifting in our favour,” Suresh Raina said.