India’s historic triumph in the cricket World Cup was the result of a long-term planning conceived a couple of years ago, according to captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni who said the team backed itself to achieve “something great”.
A jubilant Dhoni said the enormous achievement of winning the World Cup had still not sunk in and there was little time to savour the triumph as the Indian Premier League will start from April 8.
“We have achieved something great. A couple of years back, about one and a half years ago, we had set our eyes on the World Cup. (Despite) whatever we were doing on the field, we (always) had a long-time goal to do well in the World Cup. We wanted to keep the individuals fit,” Dhoni said at the post-match press conference.
“We wanted our best players in form and did not want to lose our best players to injury. It was a big challenge. We were able to give more than 100 per cent on the field. We peaked at the right time and carried that momentum into the final. We wanted to win the trophy for each one of us,” said the wicket-keeper batsman after playing a match-winning unbeaten knock of 91.
Asked why there wasn’t any sign of emotion in his body language after hitting the winning six, he said, “I was emotionally confused. I wanted a wicket (stump) and was standing in the middle (of the pitch) and Yuvraj was at the other side.”
“I thought hugging can be done later. But he came and jumped on me,” he said pointing to Yuvraj who was sitting beside him.
Dhoni said the team may not get enough time to savour the World Cup triumph because of the IPL starting on April 8. “I don’t think (we are) getting enough time. I am off to Delhi tomorrow. After that we have the IPL. No time to realise we have won the World Cup with a lot of pressure being there as part of the IPL side.”
Dhoni refused to reveal what secret plans the team had for winning the Cup.
“Whatever we did on the field, there’s no secret about it. Whatever secret plans we have, we will have them at the hotel. We are waiting to get back,” he commented.
Asked what winning the World Cup meant to the nation which was starved of sporting success, Dhoni said the country had begun to emerge as a front-runner in sports recently but cricket remained its biggest passion.
“In the last three-four years, we have done well in shooting, badminton, lawn tennis, hockey and football as well. We are growing as a sporting nation. But cricket is special because of the infrastructure. It started with the 1983 win. And two big players Anil Kumble and Sachin Tendulkar came on the scene followed by Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
“It is due to them we are getting a lot of money and respect. We are trying to pass it to the next generation.
Playing was not easy as there was a lot of anxiety. Nowadays the pressure we go through is a lot. Sometimes the players don’t even eat because of the anxiety,” he explained.
Dhoni praised Yuvraj Singh’s man of the tournament effort.
“In the first press conference, quite a few questions were asked about him. What we wanted was to keep him going as we know once he keeps going, he goes throughout the tournament and his bowling also improves.”
Asked why he promoted himself ahead of in-form Yuvraj, the Indian skipper said it was a difficult decision to make which could have led to criticism had it not been successful.
“It was a difficult decision. He’s been in tremendous form throughout the series. Had I failed, I would have had to answer a lot of questions. If I got out early, there would be two left-handers to come in but I have played a lot with Murali and I know his doosra well. He knows it too. I wanted to put pressure on him,” the Indian captain said.
“Gautam and I run well together though we had not played together much recently. I was reminded of our India A days,” he added.
Dhoni also praised the home crowd support when chasing the stiff target set by Sri Lanka.
“It was a great atmosphere in the stadium with people cheering every single during the partnership between Virat Kohli and Gautam Gambhir. They applauded each run as if it was a boundary. It happened even when I was batting. That gave us strength. Even the dew helped,” he added.
Asked about the logic behind the selection of S. Sreesanth ahead of Ravichandran Ashwin, he said it was done keeping in mind the history of the Wankhede pitch.
Dhoni refused to compare the Twenty20 triumph with the World Cup victory saying each had its own importance. “You need not compare everything. Both are special in their own way. I love the ODI format as you see a lot of variety in ODIs. T20 brings its own flavour,” he said.
“You can say this team started doing differently from that T20 triumph (in 2007). We can close that chapter now. We need quite a few reserve players because of the amount of cricket we are playing,” he added.