On India's nine-year anniversary of the 2011 World Cup win, Zaheer Khan has opined that Yuvraj Singh gave a cutting edge to the bowling attack with his full quota of overs in almost every match. Yuvraj emerged as the biggest star for India, scoring 362 runs and picking 15 wickets to go with that.
Zaheer Khan's impressive and economical bowling display in the 2011 World Cup final gave India the early advantage against Sri Lanka, with Munaf Patel and Yuvraj Singh banking on that to choke the run-flow in the middle overs. So much so that, Sri Lanka could only score 183 runs in the 40 overs on a belter of a Mumbai wicket, with as many as 91 runs being scored in the last 10 overs alone. Zaheer was all praises for the Punjab all-rounder for giving that control to the side with the ball throughout the tournament.
"Yuvi was superb right through the World Cup. He was almost able to bowl his quota of overs throughout the tournament. He gave us that balance of the fifth bowler we used to always talk about and also provided an overall balance to the playing 11. It was a great batting wicket. It was a typical Mumbai, Wankhede high-scoring pitch. It was just that we were able to keep the pressure on the Sri Lankans till the 40th over. That was the gist of that fact. They were scoring at four and a half runs an over," Zaheer told Sportstar.
For Zaheer, it was his second final appearance after his failure in the 2003 World Cup. The pressure was also enormous to perform after the way India crashed out of the 2007 World Cup, with an embarrassing loss to Bangladesh in the tournament opener, but it was also their best shot to win the tournament. Zaheer mentioned that controlling those raw emotions and not getting overwhelmed by the occasion was the major takeaway for him from the South Africa edition and the team applied the same really well.
"Being in control of the emotions because the final can be overwhelming. Finals can get those emotions out: about what can happen if we win the finals. And what can happen if we lose? They are very strong emotions. During the 2003 World Cup, I was just a young kid coming at the international level, reaching the finals, playing against an opposition which was very strong and experienced. Australia had a lot of match-winners in that playing eleven. 2003 was thinking this was going to happen if we win the World Cup.
"It will be huge, you know. It's not happened since '83. The country is going to go crazy and everyone is expecting us to win. So all those kinds of things also put you under pressure. When you do something wrong or if you don't get the rhythm going then comes the pressure of what is going to happen if we lose. So I think it's a pendulum swing between that and the only way to stop it is by staying in the present. You've to be able to block yourself out from these thoughts. If you are staying in the present and just observing what the game is, and just reacting to that, these things get simpler. I think that was the experience and learning of 2003 that I applied to 2011," the Mumbai pacer concluded.