Exclusive: A rising star and a veteran cricket promoter recall India's 2011 World Cup glory Filed on April 2, 2021
Indian players celebrate with the trophy after beating Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final. (AFP file)

It was the 2011 Indian World Cup win that inspired the 18-year-old UAE wicketkeeper-batsman Vriitya Aravind to become a cricketer

In 2011, Vriitya Aravind was only eight who had never picked up a cricket bat and only played tennis for fun. But on that night of April 2 in 2011, the little Vriitya was glued to the television when MS Dhoni’s massive six clinched the World Cup for India.

The little Vriitya realized how big cricket was in his country when he saw the unbridled joy in the streets.

“I was in Chennai that time. I remember everyone was watching the match and the roads were empty. Then as soon as India won the World Cup, it was mad, you know, there were fireworks, people running onto the streets wearing the Indian jersey, waving the Indian flag and that’s what really struck me. I thought, ‘okay cricket is really big’,” Vriitya recalled.

As India celebrates 10 years of their famous win in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka, Vriitya, who has now cemented his place in the UAE national team as the wicketkeeper-batsman, points to that night when you ask him what inspired him to become a cricketer.

“I think as soon as that night ended, I wanted to play cricket. I didn’t know if I would be any good at it because I had never played it, but all I knew was that I wanted to play cricket,” he said.

Four months after that 2011 Indian World Cup win, Vriitya moved to Dubai with his family.

“As soon as I came to Dubai, before enrolling in a school, I enrolled in a cricket academy (G Force Cricket Academy),” he smiled.

And Vriitya revealed Dhoni’s influence on his cricket journey was not limited to that famous match-winning six in the final.

“I am from Chennai, so everyone in Chennai is a big fan of Dhoni, because of CSK and India,” he said.

“Of course, him being a keeper, it was a big motivation for me to become a keeper.”

While Vriitya later had a chance to meet two of the most important people from that 2011 Indian squad, Virender Sehwag and coach Gary Kirsten, Shyam Bhatia, Dubai’s renowned cricket promoter, recalled celebrating the victory with three famous people in his hotel suite in Mumbai.

“After watching the final in Mumbai with my friends, I came back to my hotel suite. Then I got a call from my good friend Sunil Gavaskar. He asked me where I was. When I told him I was at my hotel, he said he would come there to celebrate,” Bhatia recalled.

“Then Sunil turned up with two other famous people. One was Sourav Ganguly and the other was (actor) Aamir Khan. I don’t know how they landed up there, maybe, it was the traffic chaos in the city after the match!

“Anyway, we celebrated until 2 in the night. Sourav and Sunil were so happy and Aamir was over the moon.”

Bhatia, who also watched India’s 1983 World Cup final win against West Indies at Lord’s, feels there is no bigger occasion in India than a cricket World Cup win.

“If you ask me, 1983 was our greatest moment because nobody gave us a chance. But 2011 was also special because it was at home and people were so happy. There were unbelievable scenes. It was a beautiful night.”


Rituraj Borkakoty

A big fan of the Argentina national football team, Rituraj generally writes on sports. But he deeply cherishes the time he spent with his favourite musician from Assam, India, for an interview. And he loves to bring human interest stories to Khaleej Times readers.

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