India's 2011 World Cup heroes: Where are they now?

Shashwat Kumar

India ended their 28-year wait for a World Cup crown on the 2nd April 2011

On the 2nd of April, 2011, India clashed swords with Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium, hoping to quench their 28-year thirst for a 50-over World Cup crown.

Prior to that encounter, the Men In Blue had methodically dismantled defending champions Australia and arch-rivals, Pakistan in the quarter-final and semi-final, respectively, thereby casting themselves as overwhelming favourites.

Yet, once Sri Lanka had won the toss (at the second time of asking) and amassed 274 on the board, courtesy Mahela Jayawardene’s majestic ton, billions of Indians waited with bated breath, especially as they hoped to become the first side to triumph on home soil.

In fact, a spanner was thrown in their works when Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag were dismissed in quick succession by Lasith Malinga. Suddenly, India had to scale a steep peek without help from two of their most prolific run-getters during the tournament.

However, Gautam Gambhir and MS Dhoni teamed up stupendously to deflate Sri Lankan hopes and break the Islanders’ hearts, courtesy a stellar 109-run partnership. Thereafter, the Indian skipper continued on his merry way before finishing things off in style and sending the Wankhede Stadium into an enormous frenzy.

Unsurprisingly, the 2nd of April, 2011 has etched itself into Indian cricketing folklore, owing to its weightage and the sheer fact that it remains one of the nation’s greatest achievements on the global stage.

Thus, as the ninth anniversary of that conquest dawns, the time seems ripe to chalk out what the members of that title-winning team are currently up to.

#1 Virender Sehwag 

Sehwag has been participating in numerous Legends T20 leagues

Virender Sehwag lit up the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup when he blazed his way to a monumental hundred against Bangladesh in the opening fixture of the competition. Though the opener failed to replicate those heroics over the course of the succeeding matches, he provided his customary pyrotechnics at the top of the order, with a merciless assault against Umar Gul in the semi-final adorning that particular highlight reel.

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Post the World Cup, the right-hander played only a few games for the country before bidding adieu to the game in 2016, with his last international appearance coming in 2013 in a Test against Australia.

Over the past few years, Sehwag has been a constant fixture in T20 leagues comprising legends and was most recently in action in the Road Safety T20 World Series, wherein he starred against the West Indies legends with an unbeaten knock of 74 in the first match of the tournament. 

#2 Sachin Tendulkar

Sachin bid adieu to the game in 2013 (Credits: A Kamble)

Despite the countless expectations placed on his shoulders, the Master Blaster failed to live up to the hype in the final as he was sent packing by Malinga in the opening exchanges.

Previously though, the opener had proved his worth with a timely innings against Pakistan in the semi-final and a brace of centuries against England and South Africa.

Akin to Sehwag, Sachin didn’t feature a lot after the World Cup and though he became the first player in history to notch up 100 international centuries at the 2012 Asia Cup, he hung up his boots against the West Indies, a year later. 

Most recently, the Master Blaster was seen captaining the India Legends side in the Road Safety T20 World Series. Additionally, he also responded to Ellyse Perry’s challenge of batting an over against the Australian during the Bushfire Relief match.

Apart from his cricketing commitments, Sachin also displayed his benevolent side by donating ₹25 lakhs each to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund. Elsewhere, he also lent a helping hand by donating to the Uttarakhand Flood Relief.

#3 Gautam Gambhir

Gambhir was one of the stars in the World Cup final

The left-hander was perhaps the primary reason India outwitted Sri Lanka in the final courtesy his gritty innings of 97. However, once the World Cup was done and dusted, Gambhir found it tough to maintain his place in the Indian side, owing to a poor run of form.

Although he last represented the nation in the longest format in 2016 against England, his final ODI and T20I appearance came in 2013 and 2012, respectively.

However, Gambhir has kept himself occupied sans cricket and is currently a Member of Parliament after winning the Lok Sabha elections in 2019. The former opener is a part of the Bhartiya Janata Party and has been quite vocal about his beliefs and policies.

Recently, he donated ₹1 crore from his MP LAD funds, thereby backing up the ₹50 lakhs contribution he had made earlier. Furthermore, he pledged to give one month’s worth of his salary to the Central Relief Fund.

#4 Virat Kohli

Kohli is perhaps the premier batsman in the world

Back in 2011, Virat Kohli represented a fiery youngster who seemed hell-bent on imposing himself on the opposition. And, over the years, the right-hander has continued in a similar vein and has established himself as arguably the premier batsman in world cricket, across formats.

Currently the skipper of the Indian team, Kohli has been at the forefront of India’s rise to the top of the ICC World Test Championship table, although the Men In Blue endured a chastening defeat against the Black Caps in February.

The Indian captain, along with his wife, has also been active in the nation’s fight against coronavirus, having reportedly donated ₹3 crores to the cause. 

#5 Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh recently turned out for the India Legends

Much like the 2007 ICC World T20, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup would be remembered for the heroic performances Yuvraj Singh produced. The all-rounder contributed with bat and ball and fittingly pocketed the Player of the Tournament Award. 

However, months after the crest of that victory, the left-hander was diagnosed with cancer, meaning that he had to endure chemotherapy to overcome his troubles. Subsequently, he spent a considerable chunk of time away from the game, although that didn’t prevent him from making a remarkable comeback for India.

Unfortunately, though, his cricketing journey with India effectively ended post the 2017 ICC Champions Trophy when the Men In Blue were humbled by Pakistan in the final, although his final appearance was against the West Indies on the 30th of June, 2017. 

More recently, Yuvraj has participated in numerous T20 leagues across the globe and was seen donning the India Legends jersey in the Road Safety T20 World Series, alongside the likes of Sachin and Sehwag.

In addition, the all-rounder pledged his support to the Shahid Afridi Foundation as the world battles the coronavirus pandemic. 

#6 MS Dhoni (Captain and Wicket Keeper)

Dhoni has been out of action since that run out at the 2019 CWC

MS Dhoni wrote himself into the history books when he masterminded a tough run-chase at the Wankhede Stadium to lead his side to glory on the 2nd of April 2011.

Post the World Cup, the legend of the wicket-keeper only grew further as he conjured several magical moments, especially in the dying stages of contests. Consequently, he remained a vital cog in the Men In Blue’s setup as India looked to repeat their 2011 exploits at the 2019 ICC Cricket World Cup.

However, a tragic run-out against New Zealand in the semi-final at Old Trafford put paid to such hopes and Dhoni hasn’t been in action since.

Though fans rejoiced at the prospect of the wicket-keeper turning out for the Chennai Super Kings in the 2020 IPL, they are having to contend with another month of cricketing action without Dhoni, owing to the pandemic that has engulfed the world.

#7 Suresh Raina

Raina's last international appearance was in 2018

Suresh Raina began the 2011 World Cup on the side-lines as India preferred the hitting prowess of Yusuf Pathan. However, once the latter failed to sparkle, the former was called into the fray and he repaid that faith with clutch knocks against Australia and Pakistan.

Subsequently, Raina featured regularly for India during their semi-final run in the following World Cup before forming an important part of the side for the 2016 ICC World T20. 

However, an inherent weakness against the short delivery meant that his impact on proceedings dwindled significantly, with his last appearance for India coming during the Men In Blue’s tour to England in 2018.

The left-hander has continued performing in the IPL for CSK but has been out of action since undergoing a knee surgery post the 2019 edition.

The 2020 season was supposed to mark the return of Raina to the competitive fold. However, the postponement of the competition has forced the left-hander into a bit more time off the field, wherein he has generously contributed ₹31 lakhs to PM CARES Fund and ₹21 lakhs to the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

#8 Harbhajan Singh

Harbhajan has performed exceedingly well for CSK in the IPL

Like several on the list, the 2011 World Cup proved to be the crowning glory in a glittering career for Harbhajan Singh. Though he kept himself in the mix until 2016, he was never really able to scale the peaks he did previously as his international career gradually fell apart.

The off-spinners final appearance for the Men In Blue came in the Asia Cup in 2016 against the United Arab Emirates, where he returned with figures of 4-1-11-1.

Since then, he has been plying his trade in the IPL and has been a part of the Chennai Super Kings roster for the past couple of editions. And, owing to the sluggish conditions on offer at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, the off-spinner has churned out decent displays. 

Recently, Harbhajan has been working as a TV commentator for India’s matches. Additionally, the off-spinner also donated to the Shahid Afridi Foundation to fight coronavirus.

#9 Zaheer Khan

Zaheer last played for India in 2014

During the 2000s, Zaheer Khan endured a tumultuous time as the arrival of Greg Chappell coincided with his lack of fitness and form. Subsequently, he was left out of the Indian team as the country rummaged for other options.

However, a couple of years later, the pacer roared back into the picture and eventually, ended up becoming India’s ace strike bowler during the 2011 World Cup. He finished as the leading wicket-taker at the competition and provided his side crucial breakthroughs whenever the occasion demanded.

Unfortunately, though, injuries meant that he couldn’t continue producing the goods and he made his final Indian bow against New Zealand in a Test at Wellington in 2014.

In recent times, the pacer has been a part of the T10 League and also turned out for the India Legends in the Road Safety T20 World Series.

#10 S Sreesanth

Sreesanth has ventured into the showbiz industry

When Ashish Nehra injured himself during the semi-final, several expected R Ashwin to be slotted into the eleven. However, Dhoni sprung a surprise when he opted for S Sreesanth. And, though the pacer did nothing wrong on that occasion, his career went downhill swiftly after that game at the Wankhede.

In 2013, the fast bowler was found guilty of spot-fixing and was banned for life by the BCCI. However, on the 15th of March, 2019, the Supreme Court set aside the BCCI disciplinary committee’s order, reducing his sentence to seven years, thereby paving the way for him to return to cricket in August 2020.

During his absence from the game, Sreesanth entered the showbiz industry and was a part of Bigg Boss, a show hosted by Salman Khan. And, a little later, he made his debut in Sandalwood with a movie titled ‘Kempegowda 2’, wherein the fast bowler played the role of a politician.

#11 Munaf Patel

Munaf was hailed as the unsung hero of the 2011 CWC

Hailed as the unsung hero of the World Cup by former Indian bowling coach, Eric Simons, Munaf Patel endured a similarly quiet departure from the international scene, just months after the high of the aforementioned triumph. He played his last match for India against England at Cardiff in September 2011.

After the tournament, the fast bowler was in and around the domestic circuit, although injuries curtailed his involvement significantly. And, on the 10th of November 2018, he announced his retirement, famously stating that he had no regrets, considering that everyone he had played with had retired, apart from Dhoni.

Months later though, in September 2019, Munaf was embroiled in a controversy when the pacer was alleged to have sent death threats to Vadodara-based Cricket Hitrakshak Samiti (CHS) chief Devendra Surti, although the fast bowler vehemently denied those accusations.

Since then, Munaf has been spending a lot of time with his family and has participated in the T10 League and in the recently abandoned Road Safety T20 World Series. 

#12 Ashish Nehra

Nehra's last international game came in 2017

The fast bowler enjoyed his second coming as an international cricketer towards the end of the 2000s and represented one of India’s best death-bowling options at the 2011 World Cup.

However, in the penultimate clash against Pakistan, Ashish Nehra injured himself, meaning that he was ruled out of the summit encounter against Sri Lanka. Incidentally, that remains his last appearance for the country in the 50-over format.

A few years post the World Cup, Nehra enjoyed a mini-renaissance when he established himself as a wonderful T20 bowling option, courtesy strong performances for CSK in the IPL.

Consequently, he represented India at the 2016 World T20 and played on for another year before bringing down the curtains on his international career against New Zealand in November 2017.

In the 2019 edition of the IPL, Nehra was roped in as part of the Royal Challengers Bangalore’s leadership team to work alongside Gary Kirsten, a year after being appointed as the bowling coach by the franchise. 

#13 Piyush Chawla

Chawla has been a brilliant performer in the IPL over the years

A lot of eyebrows were raised when Piyush Chawla made India’s 2011 World Cup squad. And, those murmurs only grew louder when the leg-spinner appeared in a handful of games, meaning that he didn’t add any tangible value to the outfit.

After the World Cup, Chawla barely featured for India with his final series being a home assignment against England in 2012, wherein he played his last Test and T20I.

However, the lack of international exposure didn’t impact his IPL performances as he became a pivotal component in the Kolkata Knight Riders’ machinery.

In the process, he has also perched himself in the higher echelons of the leading wicket-takers in IPL history, a list where he is placed fourth. Subsequently, CSK shelled out ₹6.75 crores on the leg-spinner to bring him on board for the 2020 season.

#14 R Ashwin

Ashwin has been a vital cog in India's Test wheel

Looked upon as a back-up option to Harbhajan Singh, R Ashwin was on the periphery during the 2011 World Cup, although he played a crucial role in the Men In Blue’s victory over Australia in the quarter-final.

Post the World Cup, the off-spinner got into his groove as he established himself as India’s premier spinner across formats. Consequently, he carved an unparalleled niche for himself in the Test circuit by breaking numerous records.

More recently though, his stocks have fallen slightly and he is currently out of favour in India’s limited-overs setup, although he still commands a place in their Test outfit.

#15 Yusuf Pathan

Yusuf Pathan was released by SRH before the 2020 IPL Auction

Before the World Cup, there had been plenty of hype surrounding Yusuf Pathan’s ability to bludgeon oppositions into submission. However, the all-rounder succumbed to those expectations and couldn’t showcase his best form throughout the tournament.

And, rather, unfortunately, his career never scaled the upward trajectory that many felt he was destined for. The all-rounder could only muster intermittent appearances for India and played his last international game (a T20I) on the 30th of March, 2012 against South Africa.

However, domestically, Yusuf remained a stalwart for Baroda and kept popping up with timely performances. In fact, in February 2020, the all-rounder played his 100th First Class game for his side, thereby highlighting the impact he has had.

In the IPL, the right-handed batsman showed glimpses of the talent he possessed, although he couldn’t stitch a consistent run of scores together. In the process, Kolkata Knight Riders let him go ahead of the 2018 IPL and he represented Sunrisers Hyderabad for a year before the franchise released him. 

Over the past few days, Yusuf has been very active in helping the nation fight the COVID-19 pandemic. Along with his brother, Irfan Pathan, he donated 4000 face masks to health care workers.