World T20 2007 - Final: The match that changed Indian cricket
As Misbah-ul-Haq played the fatal scoop to send the ball in the air, the lives of a billion people came to a standstill. It was indeed not clear whether it was going for a six or would it find itself a couple of meters short off the boundary. Has MS Dhoni placed a fielder there? All these questions puzzled us for a few microseconds because all we saw was Misbah at his brutal best playing that ‘fatal’ shot and the ball flung high in the air with an unknown trajectory.
Then, we saw a certain Sreesanth taking the catch. He did fumble but in the end the moment he threw the ball in the air, every Indian in the world was confident that these young boys sans the biggies had just etched their names into history. As a kid born in the 1990s, it was a different moment. Yes, we had seen triumphs but this one was a special one.
From despair to ecstasy
2007 was the year when Indian cricket hit the extremes. A horrific 50-over World Cup had inflicted many wounds which would have taken much more time to heal. But MS Dhoni and his young brigade did reduce that timestamp and they did it in style. It had been a dramatic World T20. The bowl out, Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes and Joginder Sharma – all these things had become a topic to discuss cricket on.
To say that the Indians were going into the finals with an added advantage, having defeated Pakistan in the league game would be stupid, wouldn’t it? Dhoni won the toss and did what had been taught in the old school of cricket. Any high-pressure game, win the toss, bat first and put runs on the board.
Virender Sehwag was injured and in came the man who had gained a reputation of being a sledgehammer in the domestic circuit. Yes, I am talking about Yusuf Pathan. The older Pathan whacked the second ball of his innings out of the park. A rash shot in the same over, saw the ball going into the hands of Shoaib Malik and also ensured that Pathan’s flashy start had ended.
Robin Uthappa did not live up to the expectations and was caught at cover. Even Yuvraj looked a shadow of himself and his patchy batting came to an end when he was dismissed by Umar Gul in the 14th over. At the other end, Gautam Gambhir was at his classy best and was playing all his strokes. India finished at 157 for 5. A decent score, but was it enough to defend in a final, certainly not? India were 15-20 runs short.
The final push
Pakistan’s start was horrific too. They were reduced to 26 for 2 in the third over. Younis Khan walked in and Pakistan raced to 50 in the sixth over. The match seemed to be going away from India just when Imran Nazir was run out by Uthappa. Joginder Sharma then dismissed Younis and Pakistan were again struggling at 65 for 4 in the 9th over. The rash strokes continued and there was a time when Pakistan were reeling at 104 for 7 in the 16th over.
54 runs were needed from the last 4 overs. Nobody would have ever thought in their wildest dreams that with so many wickets down Misbah would make a match out of that situation.
13 were required off the final over. Harbhajan or Joginder? That was the question and Dhoni threw the ball to the latter. A wide first up, followed by a six, the whole of India was stunned. It was an easy task for Pakistan. Joginder ran in and Misbah for the very first time in his innings played an unorthodox shot. He walked across and scooped the ball over fine leg only to find Sreesanth.
India had become the world champions in the newest format of the game. This was the game that set the tone for India and its new skipper MS Dhoni.