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Dhoni pleased to silence critics

ICC Cricket World Cup 2011

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Yuvraj Singh & Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is embraced by team-mate Yuvraj Singh after striking the winning runs for India against Sri Lanka

India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni was delighted to prove his detractors wrong by guiding his side to a memorable World Cup final triumph at the Wankhede Stadium.

Dhoni, who had struggled for form throughout the tournament, thumped an unbeaten 91 from just 79 balls as the hosts chased down a stiff target of 275 to beat Sri Lanka with six wickets and 10 balls to spare.

The wicketkeeper-batsman’s fine innings came after he had promoted himself to number five ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh, while India’s triumph also silenced those who had questioned the inclusion of erratic paceman Sreesanth at the expense of spinner Ravichandran Ashwin.

Dhoni said: “There were quite a few decisions that I took in this game. If we were not on the winning side the first question (would have been) why Sreesanth, not Ashwin? Second question - Yuvraj Singh in form, why didn’t he bat at number four?

“There were plenty of questions and it’s good to win, as that was one thing that was definitely pushing me to do well in this game.”

Dhoni was particularly pleased to justify his promotion in the batting order and added: “With two off-spinners in their side, chasing a big score, I said, ‘I need to go up the order’.

“(Coach) Gary (Kirsten) backed me and I was equally backed by the senior players. I had a point to prove, not to others, but to myself more than anyone else and I’m glad I got the number of runs that I got.”

Dhoni also paid tribute to the performances of Gautam Gambhir, who top-scored with a composed 97, and Virat Kohli.

The duo shared a valuable partnership of 83 for the third wicket following the early departures of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, with Gambhir also putting on a century stand with Dhoni before falling with 52 still required for victory.

“With the couple of wickets that we lost, Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar, most of the people in India, they would be questioning us, whether we could get the number of runs or not,” Dhoni explained.

"But I think Virat and Gautam batted brilliantly, what was needed at that point in time was singles and doubles and they were making sure with the fast bowling, don’t give them (Sri Lanka) one more wicket because if you give them one wicket there is plenty of pressure on the lower middle order.”

India fans

India fans celebrate their team's victory. "We knew if we were doing it for each other, we were doing it for the nation," said Dhoni

“They batted really well and after that with the help of a bit of dew around the field we were able to put pressure on the spinners.”

On Gambhir’s splendid 122-ball innings, the skipper added: “I would have loved to see him get a big century, so hard luck Gautam, but he batted brilliantly throughout.

“He needed to be there. That’s his role, he has that responsibility in the side and he took us really close.”

India’s victory sparked jubilant celebrations around the cricket-loving nation and Dhoni took great pleasure from seeing his side’s hard work come to fruition.

“A couple of years back, we had our eyes set on the World Cup, whatever we were doing on the field,” he added. “We had a long-term goal of doing well in the World Cup.

"Just by having a target in mind doesn’t mean you will win the World Cup, but what we said was we will prepare well and try to keep each and every individual fit.

“It was a big challenge, but series by series we gave rest and at the same time players opted for rest which really helped us to be in a position where we were able to give more than 100% on the field.

“I think we peaked at the right time, which was important, and we carried that momentum into the final and were able to win.

“If you are part of a team, individual feelings don’t matter that much. We wanted to win this trophy for each other first.

“When you are sharing the dressing room with 15 individuals and 10 to 12 support staff, the first thing you want to do is to give happiness to them.

“We wanted to do it for each other and at the same time we knew if we were doing it for each other, we were doing it for the nation and the picture gets bigger and bigger.

“We knew if we did well on the field and if we are winning the World Cup, the whole of India will definitely have a share in it.”

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