As India prepared for the World Cup final against Sri Lanka, India’s then mental conditioning coach Paddy Upton recalls how the task was to keep the team and players on an even keel and not get swayed by the emotions. News | 2011 WC Win Pics
It was a massive occasion and needless to say that the team was under massive pressure, recalls Upton in a report in The Indian Express.
“The gravitas of playing a World Cup final in Mumbai wasn’t lost on any single player or support staff. It was about whether we can keep the players on an even keel and not get them overly excited and anxious,” Upton says.
India were set a competitive target of 275 by Sri Lanka. The hosts chased the target with 10 balls to spare with skipper MS Dhoni walking away with man of the match award.
This after Gautam Gambhir had laid a soild foundation for the chase with a 122-ball 97 runs.
“I need to mention Gautam Gambhir’s contribution. Everyone talks about Dhoni’s innings but Gambhir held the entire inning together,” says Upton.
One of the biggest moment of the World Cup came after the wicket of Gambhir. Dhoni walked out in the middle ahead of in-form Yuvraj Singh, who will go on to win the player of the tournament award.
Upton said as far as he can recall it was a decision taken by Dhoni and it fetched India the World Cup.
“I often get asked about Dhoni’s elevation in the batting order, him going ahead of Yuvraj. This is a first-hand recollection. I heard a knock on the window. Gary and I turned around the same time. It was Dhoni, he indicated he was batting next. That was it. There are very few players in the world who are genuine “massive high-pressure” players. Yuvraj Singh is not one of those, Dhoni is. I do remember very clearly when Dhoni walked down the stairs, I turned to Gary and said “Do you realise Dhoni is going there to fetch us the World Cup?” I had absolute conviction that Dhoni would come back with the trophy,” Says Upton.