Revisiting the 2007 World T20 final
- More than 7 years later, the memories of winning the World T20 in 2007 are still fresh in every Indian's mind.
Cricket has an ignominious reputation for producing one-sided finals, but an Indo-Pak match is seldom that. It often takes a toll on the nerves of players and supporters alike, and the 2007 World T20 final was no different. Only a couple of weeks back, the group-stage match between the two teams couldn’t separate them in the allotted 40 overs, and it was the first ever bowl-out that eventually decided the winner there. But there was room only for one winner in the finals and what they produced on Sep 24, 2007 was arguably one of the best tournament finals ever.
Both teams were in sublime form coming into the finals, with India beating Australia in a close encounter at Durban on one hand and Pakistan winning comfortably against New Zealand at Cape Town on the other. It was now over to the Bull ring at Johannesburg, one of cricket’s most daunting stadia to decide the winner of the newest entrant to the cricket calendar. The atmosphere was palpably twitchy and it was clear that a close match between the two best sides in the tournament was on the cards.
Gambhir and Yuvraj’s 63-run partnership gives India the advantage
India won the crucial toss and decided to bat first and put Pakistan under the pressure of chasing in a big match. Drama began to unfold from the very first ball as Yusuf Pathan, the surprise opener who playing instead of the injured Sehwag, almost ran himself out. Yusuf did survive and got India off to bit of a flier as he hit Asif for a six off the second ball he faced. But he soon holed out and so did Robin Uthappa, not long thereafter.
India’s best batsman of the tournament, Yuvraj Singh came in, but despite coming into the finals on the back of a scintillating innings a couple of nights ago, failed to get going against Hafeez and Afridi, who were brought in as soon as Yuvraj came into the crease. Nevertheless, he strung together a 63-run partnership with Gambhir, who did most of the scoring and looked like the only batsman who seemed to be in some sort of control. He struck boundaries regularly through the middle overs.
Just when it started to look like one-way traffic, Umar Gul, continuing his brilliant form in the tournament, struck twice to get rid of Yuvraj and Dhoni. Despite the barrage of yorkers and slower deliveries from Pakistan in the death overs, India managed a respectable score of 157/5 helped with a late flourish from Rohit Sharma. India would have felt they were 20 runs short at halfway stage, but it was an India Pakistan match we were witnessing, and even a paltry score was sure to test the Pakistani batsmen.
India bowled well and took wickets at regular intervals
India needed quick wickets early on. RP Singh, as was the case throughout the tournament, got Hafeez and Kamran Akmal out cheaply, although Imran Nazir was scoring rather freely at the other end. India soon got him though with some brilliance in the field by Robin Uthappa, probably the only way he could have been out. Runs kept coming, but India kept striking regularly too and midway through the innings Pakistan looked down and out at 77/6, after Irfan Pathan got the important wickets of Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi in a single over.
It seemed as if India would seal it from there, but Misbah-ul-Haq had other plans. He batted sensibly, farmed the strike and struck big blows regularly to bring Pakistan back into the game. With 54 to win off the last 24, Pakistan needed a big over soon to have any chance of winning. The game turned on its head in the space of the next 2 overs, Misbah smashed Harbhajan Singh for 3 sixes and Sohail Tanvir struck a couple of meaty blows off Sreesanth in the next over to bring Pakistan within striking distance.
The Joginder Sharma show
At the end of the 19th over, Pakistan needed 13 runs to win. Joginder Sharma, the most unlikely of bowlers to bowl the last over, started with a wide and a full toss, which Misbah pummelled over long-off for six. With just 6 to win off 4, you would have thought it was game over. But one last twist still remained; Misbah moved across and tried to play a scoop off the next ball. He mistimed it, and a billion hearts held their breath in anticipation as Sreesanth lined himself under it. He did take the catch and the stadium erupted.
It was a match worthy of being the final of the first World T20, with two of the greatest rivals in the cricketing world fighting it out over 3 hours. No one deserved to lose but in the end, India edged past Pakistan by holding their nerves in the moments that mattered.Published 25 Nov 2014, 03:00 IST