It is safe to say that the T20 format has taken the cricket world by storm. The shortest format of the game guarantees the frenzy and excitement that is sometimes absent in Test cricket.
The crowds love aggressive batsmen, and enjoy balls flying over the boundaries often. The bowlers and fielders are also expected to perform under high pressure in T20 cricket. Due to the short duration of the game, it becomes important to execute every ball perfectly and save every possible run on the field.
Nowadays, even if 11 or 12 runs are required off the last over, batsmen are backed to get the job done, with bowlers often struggling under pressure at the death.
India have always had a craze for the shortest format, owing to the team winning the inaugural T20 World Cup and advent of the Indian Premier League. Let us look at five instances where Indian bowlers held their nerve in the last over of the game.
5. Mohammed Shami vs New Zealand, Hamilton, 2020
India had chased down the target set by hosts New Zealand in the first two T20Is (out of the scheduled five). In the third game, it was the visitors who batted first. Backed by the efforts of Rohit Sharma (65) and Virat Kohli (38), the Kiwis were set a target of 180.
Martin Guptill got New Zealand off to a flier. When his wicket fell, NZ were poised at 47 runs, with two balls of the powerplay yet to be bowled. Out came the NZ captain Kane Williamson, who would turn out to be a real menace on the night. The Indians were able to get the others out without leaking many runs, but Williamson was standing strong and teeing off.
As the last over arrived, NZ needed only 9 runs to chase the target down. At the crease, Kane Williamson was batting on 95*, with Ross Taylor by his side on 10*(7). Even though Taylor had faced only 7 balls, he had been at the crease for a 3 full overs. The onus of defending 9 runs fell on Mohammed Shami, whose figures read 3-0-25-0.
The very first ball of Shami's over was smashed over mid-wicket for a six by Taylor, and he took a single off the next. 2 were needed off 4 balls, with Kane Williamson on strike. After missing an attempted yorker on the first ball, Shami pulled his length back, and the NZ captain edged it to the keeper.
Tim Seifert walked out with the game still very much in NZ's grasp. Shami stuck to his shortish length - swing and a miss by Seifert. Next ball, same length- swing and a miss, but this time NZ stole a bye. On the last ball, with a single needed to win, Ross Taylor was on strike. Shami went for a fuller delivery, and Taylor ended up missing it, getting bowled in the process.
Match Tied. Despite being put under pressure on the first ball, Shami got two set batsmen out with two good balls. India won the Super Over, in which Rohit Sharma smashed 2 sixes off the last two balls.
4. Jasprit Bumrah vs England, Nagpur, 2017
In the 2nd T20I vs England, Jasprit Bumrah showcased why he is indeed one of the better death bowlers in the world.
Chasing a mere 144 for the win and with a 2-0 lead in the 3 game series, England lost 2 wickets with 22 runs on board. England recovered well with, Joe Root and Ben Stokes making useful contributions. They needed just 8 runs to win in the last over, and Jasprit Bumrah was given the ball.
With his first ball, Bumrah got rid of Joe Root with a good length ball that was angling in. Root missed it in an attempt to heave it on the leg side, and got trapped LBW, although replays showed an inside edge. On the next ball, Moeen Ali got Jos Buttler on strike with a single. With 7 off 4 needed, Jos Buttler couldn't do much, and he was bowled on the 5th ball of the over.
Chris Jordan walked in with 7 needed off 2, and left Moeen Ali with the task of hitting a six to win the game. Bumrah went for a wide delivery to end the game as India won by 5 runs in the end.
It was proper execution by Bumrah in each and every ball of the over, showcasing nerves of steel.
3. Hardik Pandya vs Bangladesh, ICC T20 World Cup, India 2016
Hardik Pandya's last over against Bangladesh can be categorised either as an epic choke or a heroic rescue. Jasprit Bumrah's 19th over had tightened the grip on Bangladesh, but they were smart enough to not be aggressive against him. They played his over out, and 11 runs were needed off the last over.
Considering that being knocked out was looming high over India in case they failed to win, Hardik Pandya had an incredible amount of pressure on him. Mahmudullah slapped the first ball to deep cover for a single. Pandya went for a wide ball next, short of length, and Mushfiqur Rahim moved around the crease to cream a boundary through the covers.
Pandya changed his line and aimed for off-stump on the next ball, and Rahim cheekily attempted a scoop shot. The ball went past the keeper for four, and just 2 runs were needed off the last 3 balls now, a matter of two singles.
Surprisingly, MS Dhoni did not bring the field in and kept his men on the boundary. On the next ball, Rahim made the mistake of going for a glam finish, and hit the ball straight down to Shikhar Dhawan's throat.
Mahmudullah was on strike the next ball, and Pandya hurled a low full-toss to him. It could have been hit anywhere, and yet the batsman picked Ravindra Jadeja out at deep mid-wicket. 2 off 3 had now turned into 2 off 1, and two new batsmen were at the crease.
Pandya went for a short and wide ball, which was missed completely by the batsman. Bangladesh tried to steal the bye. MS Dhoni did the rest by running to the stumps and taking the bails off, instead of throwing at them.
2. S. Sreesanth vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 Group Stage, South Africa 2007
Sadly, S Sreesanth was involved in a match-fixing scandal in the IPL, which turned out to be the end of his international career. Despite being cleared later on, it was too little too late to get his career back on track. However, in the T20 World Cup in 2007, he was a potent weapon for the Men in Blue due to his ability to swing the new ball.
Sreesanth was also trusted with the last over in India's first game of the tournament against Pakistan. Misbah-ul-Haq managed two boundaries off the last over, which left the equation at 1 off 2. One of his shots was lofted over the 30-yard-circle in the cover region, and the 2nd one was straight down the ground.
Sreesanth went around the wicket and banged the ball short on the 5th ball. Misbah failed to connect, and the scores were tied going into the final ball. There was a long wait going into the last ball, and Misbah added a bit more spice by walking away from the stumps mid-way through Sreesanth's run up.
Sreesanth again went with a short ball. Misbah couldn't connect well again, and was run-out by an arm's length. Sreesanth's last two balls needed exceptional execution - miss the length and there was the risk of a wide being called.
India then went on to win the bowl-out.
1. Joginder Sharma vs Pakistan, ICC World T20 Final, 2007
There was a lot at stake here. It wasn't just a World Cup- it was also India's shot at redemption after the disappointing 50 over World Cup outing in West Indies. It was a game against their arch-rivals Pakistan, and it was also a test for their young captain MS Dhoni. It raised a few eyebrows when Dhoni called up Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over, despite experienced spinner Harbhajan Singh having an over left.
Misbah found himself at the crease yet again, and he needed 13 runs to win the T20 World Cup for Pakistan. Joginder started waywardly with a wide delivery. He aimed for the wide-line again on the next ball, and was successful this time. Misbah shimmed down the track on the next delivery, and set the ball sailing high over the boundary.
Just 6 runs were needed off 4 balls, and Dhoni kept fine leg inside the circle for the next ball. Joginder Sharma bowled the exact line and length that would tempt Misbah into attempting a scoop shot, and the batsman took the bait. However, Joginder had taken all the pace off the ball, and we all know what followed - "In the air, Sreesanth takes it! India lifts the World Cup!"