India vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2011 Final: Men in Blue Become World Champions

Relive the moments from the India vs Sri Lanka World Cup 2011 final as the Men in Blue lifted the trophy after 23 years under MS Dhoni’s captaincy.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan Dutta

Last Updated: 2023-10-04

Dillip Mohanty

MS Dhoni vs Virat Kohli

If MS Dhoni had to make-do with a nascent group of players to lift the 2007 World T20 title, the enigmatic skipper had almost assembled a world-class team ahead of the 2011 World Cup.

A young Virat Kohli was drafted into the middle order while the likes of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina had overcome their career’s early jitters and were ready to make a concrete impact on the big stage. Veterans like Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Zaheer Khan also provided the necessary cushion for the upcoming generation to express themselves.

With the MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings reaching two finals of the India Premier League in the first three seasons and winning one of them, his perception of being a great captain was further cemented among players and fans alike. Hence, India was approaching the 2011 ODI World Cup as a very settled side with a clear objective. The Men in Blue’s dominance on home soil was further evident by their comprehensive wins against Australia and New Zealand in the ODI series preceding the World Cup.

India’s biggest competitor in the subcontinent was Sri Lanka. Led by Kumar Sangakkara, the Lankans had already overcome India in a recently concluded triangular series in their backyard and boasted of a perfectly balanced side that could take on anyone in familiar conditions.

India’s Road to the Final, 2011 World Cup



Feb 19MirpurBangladeshWonby 87 runs
Feb 27BengaluruEnglandDrawMatch tied
Mar 6BengaluruIrelandWonBy 5 wickets
Mar 9DelhiNetherlandsWon LostBy 5 wickets
Mar 12NagpurSouth AfricaWon By 3 wickets
Mar 20ChennaiWest IndiesWonBy 80 runs
Mar 24AhmedabadAustraliaWonBy 5 wickets
Mar 30 MohaliPakistanWon By 29 runs
Apr 2MumbaiSri LankaWonBy 6 wickets
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India vs Sri Lanka 2011 World Cup final

There was very little to separate the two teams at the World Cup as well. Approaching the final, both India and Sri Lanka would lose only one match throughout the campaign before India eventually edged past their neighbours at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.

While Sri Lanka’s only loss came against Pakistan in their second group-stage match, an in-form India was shocked by South Africa in the group stages. Both the teams would, however, get back on the horse quickly with India defeating Pakistan and Australia to reach the final and Sri Lanka overcoming England and New Zealand to set a classic finale.

India vs Sri Lanka 2011 World Cup Final Scorecard



SRI LANKA  274-6(50 OV)
INDIA  277-4(50 OV)


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The Indian team had as many as five players who had played in the 2003 World Cup final against Australia. Needless to say, they were looking to complete the circle that had started eight years back ay Johannesburg. Standing at the forefront was Zaheer Khan, who gave India a dream start in the grand finale. The left-arm pacer started with three consecutive maiden overs, removing Upul Tharanga in the process to reduce Sri Lanka to 17/1.  

Zaheer Khan 2011 World Cup Final ODI.jpeg

Knowing the conditions well, Dhoni used as many as four spinners - Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar and even Virat Kohli - to great effect as they clinched three scalps while checking the runs despite Sangakkara and Jaywardene’s big knocks. This was a trick Sangakkara missed as Sri Lanka was left to rue their bowling display with Ajantha Mendis and Rangana Herath both excluded from the squad despite their fine display against England and New Zealand.

The Sri Lanka team’s slower run rate was a concern with Jayawardene (103 off 88 balls) being the only one amongst the top and middle-order to score with a strike rate of over 100. He needed support from the lower order to provide a late boost and all-rounders Nuwan Kulasekara and Thisara Perera’s joint 54-run tally did exactly that. Sri Lanka set up a 275-run target, which wasn’t easily chaseable.

2011 World Cup Final India vs Sri Lanka: India wins after a wobbly start

To make things further trickier for India, Virender Sehwag - who had hit a first-ball boundary in six of his previous eight World Cup matches - was dismissed for a duck on just the second ball of India’s innings. India’s biggest hope Sachin Tendulkar would soon follow suit five overs later, thereby reducing India to 31/2.

Memories of the 1996 World Cup semi-final flashed in front of the eyes and cameras even spotted a few fans heading homewards after Tendulklar’s dismissal - an old tradition in India. However, this Indian team wasn’t giving up easily as Gautam Gambhir and 22-year-old Virat Kohli forged a crucial 83-run stand to bring balance to the contest.  

By the time Kohli was out Gambhir was fully settled and he would next make another 109-run partnership alongside captain Dhoni to take the game beyond doubt for India. Dhoni, who had been underwhelming with the bat in the tournament until the final match, had decided to promote himself to number 5 ahead of an in-form Yuvraj Singh. This move worked like magic.

With Sri Lanka lacking spinners to control the middle overs, the duo of Gambhir and Dhoni would bat effortlessly. The all-rounder duo of Kulasekara and Perera, who had contributed well with the bat, were rendered ineffective by the duo as they returned their joint 17.2 overs conceding 119 runs and claiming just one wicket. 

Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni Partnership 2011 World Cup Final.jpeg

The biggest challenge for the batsmen wasn’t Sri Lankan bowlers but the Mumbai heat as both of them required treatments midgame for their stiff backs. The conditions eventually got the better of Gambhir, who was batting for 187 minutes then, as he slogged one up in the air off Perera’s delivery reducing India to 223/4.

Despite the setback, the match was India’s to lose from there with 54 runs needed off 52 balls and six wickets remaining. A well-settled Dhoni was joined by Yuvraj Singh at the crease next as the duo looked to create yet another immortal memory for the fans, the last one being Yuvraj’s six sixes against England during the 2007 World T20.  

It was a matter of time from there and with 15 needed off 17 balls, Dhoni would flick Lasith Malinga for consecutive boundaries before sending Kulasekara’s delivery over long-on for the most famous sixer in Indian cricket’s history. India had won the World Cup after 23 years as Dhoni won his second ICC trophy as captain.

Some say it was written in the stars for India and it won’t be a far-fetched thought either. The last five centurions in a World Cup final had lifted the trophy before the 2011 WC, where Jayawarede’s 103-run knock went in vain. Not only that, as many as seven of the last nine World Cup winners had batted first as did Sri Lanka on that fateful day.

The biggest moment from the India vs Sri Lanka 2011 World Cup final highlights was Sachin Tendulkar holding that cup and screaming in joy. Making his debut in the ODI World back in 1992, he was a part of the side that had reached one semi-final and two finals before finally getting his hands on it. Poetic justice couldn’t be any better.

Subhayan Dutta
Subhayan DuttaSports Writer

An M.A. in English Literature, Subhayan is an experienced journalist and sports writer. Having worked as a journalist at Hindustan Times, Subhayan covered diverse beats including sports, education, and health, showcasing his versatility and in-depth understanding of various subjects.