India vs Pakistan is always a high voltage match full of emotions, drama and most importantly some scintillating cricket and when it comes to the World Cup, India might have won all their encounters, but they were never easy.
The date was 14 September 2007 and India was about to take on Pakistan for the very first time in the T20 format in a Group stage encounter with both teams eyeing to finish on top of the group. Pakistan, on one hand, had already thrashed Scotland by 51 runs in their first group game whereas India, on the other, had their first match against Scotland washed out.
In this post, I will take you all down the memory lane as to how one of the most exciting India-Pakistan encounters unfolded.
How the match unfolded
Toss: Pakistan won the toss and Shoaib Malik, the captain of Pakistan, elected to field first.
Indian top-order struggled
The decision paid immediate dividends as Mohammad Asif sent Gautam Gambhir packing in the very first over with a brilliant catch of his own bowling. India hadn't even recovered from the first blow and Asif in his second and inning's third over gave India an even bigger blow in the form of destructive Virender Sehwag.
With Robin Uthappa and Yuvraj Singh on the crease, India would have hoped for the duo to stitch together a partnership to get the innings back on track. However, the duo could only manage 10 runs before Yuvraj Singh was also caught by Malik off the bowling of Asif, who was breathing out that day. The scoreboard at that time read 19/3 in 4.1 overs.
In came Dinesh Karthik, as he started off on a positive note by hitting Asif for two boundaries in that over. But then, Shoaib Malik played a masterstroke by giving Asif 4th consecutive over rather than holding him back and Asif justified his captain's decision by getting rid of DK too and he finished with the figures of 4-0-18-4.
In between all the mayhem caused by Asif, Umar Gul had bowled three quiet overs, giving away only 17 runs. India was in a complete mess and ghosts of early exist in the 50-over World Cup came back to haunt them.
In came MS Dhoni, the young captain, under immense pressure and joined Uthappa, who had scored 19 runs off 24 deliveries by then. Both the batsmen looked to consolidate the innings as they made 11 runs off the next two overs. The score at the end of nine overs was 47/4.
India started to Fightback
Robin Uthappa, who was well set by that time, decided to force things to release some pressure as he hit Yasir Arafat for two massive sixes and picked up 17 runs off the 10th over of the match.
Uthappa reached his half-century two overs later and just when innings was getting back on track for India, Sohail Tanvir struck gold as he prized out Uthappa's wicket off the very first ball of 13th over, thus, also delaying any intentions to accelerate by India.
But Dhoni, in his own unique way, stayed calm and kept picking singles with an odd boundary to keep the scoreboard moving and took India to 97/5 at the end of 15th over. In the 16th over, Irfan Pathan hit two consecutive sixes off Shahid Afridi but Afridi got his revenge off the very next ball as he bowled him with a quicker one.
With four overs left and only tail to bat with, Dhoni knew he had to take chances and struck a four and a six on the first two balls of the 17th over as India managed to score 12 off that over. But a halt in the play due to passing showers slowed things up and as India could only manage five runs off the 18th, losing Harbhajan Singh in the process.
Agarkar hit a couple of boundaries to Gul in the 19th but Arafat bowled a brilliant last over as he gave only three runs and picked up Dhoni's wicket as well. However, India had managed to reach a defendable total of 141/9 as the innings concluded.
Pakistan's top order struggled too!
Pakistani openers, Salman Butt & Imran Nazir, began their run chase cautiously and scored 12 runs off the first two overs. But on the first ball of the 3rd over, Nazir missed the attempted slog against RP Singh as the ball crashed into the stumps.
In came Kamran Akmal, one of the brightest talent in Pakistan at that time, with a lot of positive intent as he started off with a boundary and a sox in the same over. From there on Pakistan played very cautiously and kept the scoreboard moving with singles and odd boundaries here and there. The scoreboard read 42/1 after seven overs.
Just when the pair looked set to take the game away from India, Dhoni brought in Agarkar in place of Sreesanth and the legend of Dhoni's golden touch started. Agarkar got Salman Butt to knick one to Dhoni and in the next over Yuvraj Singh's brilliant throw sent the dangerous Kamran Akmal packing.
Then, Irfan Pathan jolted Pakistan even further as he bowled the experienced Pakistani great, Younis Khan in the same over and Pakistan found themselves in tatters just like India as they reduced from 42/1 in seven overs to 47/4 after nine.
Pakistan clawed their way back into the match
Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq, two of the most reliable Pakistani batsmen joined hands at the crease and started the rebuilding process. They kept the scoreboard ticking with singles and occasional boundaries and managed to take the score at 80/4 after 14 overs.
Although Pakistan had managed to form a partnership, India hadn't given easy runs as the required run rate climbed up to 10.33 runs per over. Even the Shoaib Malik knew he had to play some shots to get the required run rate down and in the attempt to do so he lost his wicket to Irfan Pathan.
Pakistan needed 55 runs to win from the last five overs, and in came Boom Boom Afridi. The stage was set for him to go bonkers and take Pakistan home and luck was on his side too with Harbhajan dropped his catch too. But, it just wasn't the day for him as he holed out to Dinesh Karthik at mid-off in attempt to hit Harbhajan Singh for a six in the 18th over with 39 runs required off 14 balls.
India's win was clearly in sight, but just then, Misbah-ul-Haq woke up from his slumber and hit Bhajji for a six and a four. The equation came down to 29 from 12. Agarkar bowled the penultimate over of the match with new batsman Yasir Arafat on strike. Arafat and Misbah combined together to score 17 runs off that over which included three boundaries.
With only 12 runs required from the last over, the match had swung back to Pakistan's favour. Dhoni gave the ball to Sreesanth as Arafat was on strike. Arafat managed to pick up a single and get Misbah back on strike with 11 required from 5 balls.
In the next three balls, Misbah took Pakistan to a position from where they couldn't have lost (in the normal match, that is) as he hit two boundaries and a took a double to tie the scores.
With only one run required off the last two balls and Misbah on strike, Pakistani camp looked all set to celebrate their first ever victory against India in a World Cup encounter. Indian camp, on the contrary, looked dejected. But what followed next were extraordinary scenes.
Misbah missed the cut on the 5th ball and equation came down to one off one. The last ball, Sreesanth bowled a short ball and Misbah could only manage to hit it as far as Yuvraj Singh who picked it up and quickly threw the ball towards the non-striker's end where Sreesanth whipped the bails and caught Misbah well short of the crease.
India pulled off a miracle as the match went into a "bowl-out", a term hardly heard by cricket fans as prior to this match, only once in international cricket bowl-out was used to settle a match.
Bowl-out: As it happened
Toss: Second time in the match, Shoaib Malik won the toss and put India in.
India nominated Sehwag, Harbhajan, Uthappa, Pathan, and Sreesanth whereas for Pakistan, it was Gul, Arafat, Afridi, Tanvir and Asif, who were going to have a shot.
Sehwag went first for India as Dhoni took his position behind the stumps. Sehwag bowled flat and fast and hit the stumps and put Pakistan under immense pressure.
Pakistan sent Arafat first and he ran in with a shortened run-up and bowled a full toss that missed off stump.
It was India 1 - 0 Pakistan after the first round.
Harbhajan was the second from India to consolidate the 1-0 lead further. He bowled quick and straight and disturbed the timber. The scene in the background was what you normally relates to football or a hockey penalty shoot-out.
Gul took the ball to keep Pakistan alive in the bowl-out, but yet another Pakistani bowler with a shortened run-up and he missed the stumps too.
India led 2-0 after the second round. Pakistan were under immense pressure.
Dhoni's another masterstroke is giving the ball to Uthappa before the genuine quicks. Uthappa bowled seam up and knocked the stumps over.
Pakistan had to hit the stumps to keep the contest going as Afridi had his chance to have a go. But even the experienced Afridi couldn't hold his nerve under immense pressure and fired it down the leg.
It was all over as India had won the bowl-out 3-0 and as a result, finished top of their group with Pakistan going through at second spot. It was certainly one of the most exciting of clashes between India and Pakistan and certainly lifted the morale of the players in the Indian camp as they went on to lift the inaugural T20 World Cup and washed away the disappointment of the first-round exit from 2007 World Cup.