ICC Tournaments have always been a spectacle for the players and crowds. Teams start to plan well in advance to get their combinations right, and the spectators plan well in advance to get their match tickets and hotel rooms.
With the advent of T20 cricket, the frequency of ICC Tournaments have increased as well and almost all the cricketing nations have got to witness the fervour and intensity.
The quality of cricket played in these tournaments make them top billing as well. Old records are broken and new records are created with utmost ease. There are a lot of nervy moments that occur in a multi-nation tournament. The crowds get behind their favourite teams which makes it look all the more dramatic.
There are a few matches which are hard to forget. These matches kept swinging like a pendulum and the team which eventually held its nerve won the encounter.
Let us look into 5 such encounters which were either a semi-final or a final.
#1. 1999 Cricket World Cup Semi Final - Australia v South Africa
South Africa won the toss and elected to bowl on a gloomy morning in Birmingham. It was understood that they wanted to restrict Australia by negating the threat posed by Steve Waugh, who in the previous encounter between the two sides, had scored a match-winning 120.
Shaun Pollock and Allan Donald bowled disciplined lines and had Australia on the mat at 68 for 4. Steve Waugh and Michael Bevan resurrected the innings with crucial half centuries. Australia could manage only 213, which looked competitive, but definitely not sufficient.
South Africa got off to a good start. The scorecard read 48 runs in 12 overs. Shane Warne's introduction dramatically changed the proceedings and South Africa lost 4 wickets in quick succession. Kallis and Rhodes built a decent partnership and South Africa found themselves within touching distance. They required 70 in the last 10 overs with 6 wickets in hand.
Once Rhodes and Kallis got dismissed, the onus fell on the in-form Lance Klusener who had saved South Africa on a few occasions in the World Cup.
Last Over Tragedy
9 runs were needed off the last over and Klusener was batting on 23 from 12 deliveries. Damien Fleming started the over and the first 2 deliveries were powerfully driven through the covers and the long off region which fetched South Africa 8 runs.
It was just a formality for South Africa to win the game. Lance Klusener hit the ball straight to the mid-off fielder and started running. Allan Donald did not respond to his call which led to a mix-up and eventually a comical run-out.
Even though the match ended in a tie, Australia advanced to the finals due to their win over South Africa in the Super Six and thrashed Pakistan in the finals to win the 1999 Cricket World Cup.
Choking became a habit for South Africa, who till date have not won a World cup semi-final.
#2. 2002 ICC Knock Out Championship Semi Final - India v South Africa
India were the team to beat in the tournament. When India played South Africa, a close contest was expected. Going by the old adage "Big Runs win you matches", India had no hesitation in winning the toss and batting first on a dry wicket which was expected to become slower and lower.
India got off to a flyer with Virender Sehwag and Sourav Ganguly scoring 42 in 5 overs. After Ganguly got out, Sehwag consolidated the position with Laxman. Sehwag was dismissed for 59.
Rahul Dravid, Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif gave the final impetus to the innings and helped India reach 262. The score was a competitive one considering the quality of spin bowlers India had.
South Africa got off to a steady start after losing Graeme Smith, but soon Gibbs and Kallis tightened the noose around the Indian bowlers with a massive 176 run stand. Due to excessive heat and humidity, Gibbs who was already struggling, had to retire hurt at 116.
After the departure of Gibbs, India dismissed both Dippenaar and Rhodes in quick time to some fabulous catches taken by Kumble and Yuvraj Singh. 62 runs were needed from 9 overs and the pressure was mounting on Kallis and Boucher who found it difficult to get going against Harbhajan and Sehwag. Sehwag, in particular, was bowling an impressive spell by stitching lots of dot balls.
The equation came down to 21 from 6 balls. Sehwag, who had picked up Boucher, had only conceded 14 in 4 overs. He was asked to bowl the all-important last over
Although the first ball was swatted for a mammoth six by Kallis, he was caught behind for 97 off the very next delivery. Lance Klusener, who had struggled to put bat to ball, tried some hefty blows only to sky them up without any elevation.
When 11 runs were needed off 2 balls, Sehwag threw it up wide outside off and all Klusener could do was drive it to cover.
This sealed the match for India and South Africa had unfortunately choked again under pressure.
#3. 2007 World T20 Final - India v Pakistan
India were playing Pakistan in the final of inaugural ICC World T20 and the excitement was palpable. India's formula was to win the toss and pile up a big total and defend the score with their seamers. MS Dhoni had no hesitation in batting first when he won the toss.
Gautam Gambhir got India off to a good start and forged a 50 runs stand with Yuvraj Singh. Yuvraj somehow couldn't hit those big sixes and was dismissed for 14. MS Dhoni also got bowled off Umar Gul's accurate bowling. Gambhir's 75 followed by Rohit Sharma's cameo of 30 from 16 deliveries, helped India reach 157 in 20 overs.
India had a good seam attack and RP Singh got both Hafeez and Kamran Akmal within 3 overs. Imran Nazir played a whirlwind innings before being dismissed to a run-out. Younis Khan struggled to get going and Pakistan lost the momentum with the departure of Younis, Shoaib Malik and Afridi in quick succession. The contest was all but over at 77 for 6.
However, Misbah had different plans. He forged useful partnerships with Yasir Arafat and Sohail Tanvir and even hit 3 sixes off a Harbhajan Singh over to bring the equation down from 54 runs in 4 overs to 13 off the last over. He had Mohammad Asif as the last batting partner.
Joginder Sharma's final act
When Dhoni went for Joginder over the experienced Harbhajan, it looked as if he had missed a trick. Joginder bowled a wide delivery followed by a dot ball. The very next delivery was sent sailing over long off for a massive six. Ravi Shastri and Ramiz Raja were making it a spectacle for the fans with their commentary as well. It looked as if Pakistan would romp home.
However, Misbah had a brain fade and scooped the ball up in the air, giving Sreesanth an easy catch at fine leg and India the ICC World T20 trophy.
This is one of the most iconic moments in Indian sports which led to the birth of the IPL. Indian cricket has become a force to reckon with and it all started with this win over Pakistan.
#4. 2013 Champions Trophy Final - India v England
India had steamrolled oppositions and made a grand entry into the finals, whereas England hung onto crucial moments to reach the finals. Even though the paths were different, it was still considered to be a close contest as England were playing in their home conditions.
Due to the rain forecast, England elected to bowl first after having won the toss. It was a stop-start kind of a situation which finally culminated to a 20 over affair.
Although India lost Rohit Sharma early, Dhawan and Kohli were playing well. Dhawan got out when the scorecard read 50. Throughout the tournament, India's top 3 had done the job and the middle order got exposed in the all-important final.
India were struggling at 66 for 4 when Kohli and Jadeja changed the momentum with a quick stand of 50 before the former was dismissed for 43. Jadeja hit some lusty blows to help India reach 129 for the loss of 7 wickets.
England lost Cook early and some disciplined bowling by India kept England under check. In this process, they lost Trott, Root and Ian Bell to a debatable decision. Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara rotated the strike and hit the occasional boundaries to bring England close to the target.
MS gambles with his options
With England needing 28 from 3 overs with 6 wickets remaining, the game looked dead and buried for India. Dhoni gambled by introducing the wayward Ishant Sharma into the attack. The lanky pacer got carted for a six over deep square leg and bowled wides off successive deliveries.
With 20 required off 16, Dhoni brought mid wicket in to make Morgan go over the top. The trick paid off and Morgan sliced the ball to Ashwin at mid-wicket. Off the very next delivery, Bopara played a hook shot straight to Ashwin at square leg. These 2 wickets made England press the panic button as Jadeja dismissed Jos Buttler for 0 and Tim Bresnan attempted a suicidal run leading to his run out.
With England needing 15 off the last over, Dhoni turned to the calm Ravi Ashwin. Even though Broad hit a boundary of the second ball of the over, it was too difficult for James Tredwell to hit Ashwin out of the park. India defended the runs and won the tournament by 5 runs.
Virat Kohli celebrated with the Gangnam dance and it was a sight to behold!!
#5. 2016 World T20 Final - England v West Indies
Although West Indies were touted as favourites due to their big hitting prowess, England were probably the more consistent team in the tournament. Due to the dew factor, West Indies elected to bowl first after winning the toss.
England got off to a terrible start. Both the openers were dismissed inside the first 2 overs. Joe Root and Jos Buttler played crucial knocks of 54 and 36 respectively to help England reach a respectable 155.
No team had chased such a big score to win a final and the West Indies, with their strong batting line-up, had their task cut out.
West Indies got off to a terrible start losing the "Universe Boss" Chris Gayle, Johnson Charles and Lendl Simmons inside first three overs. Marlon Samuels and DJ Bravo put on a decent stand of 75. With the departure of Andre Russel and captain Darren Sammy, it looked all but over for West Indies.
The Ben Stokes Brain Fade
West Indies needed 19 off the last over. Although Marlon Samuels and Carlos Braithwaite were at the crease, the victory looked challenging.
What unfolded next was something that had never been witnessed in an ICC Final before.
Stokes dished up a half-volley which was clobbered by Braithwaite over square leg for a six. The next ball was a good length delivery which was smeared over long on for a gigantic six. The third delivery was again a good length delivery which was smashed over long off for a six.
With 1 run needed, the West Indies started their champion dance and the last ball was massacred into the deep mid wicket which gave West Indies their second World T20 title.
Braithwaite scored a magnificent 34 off 10 balls and Stokes had a brain fade bowling one length delivery after another to help the big man hit those sixes at will.