2007… a year of mixed feeling for the Indian fans; after-all the start saw them being knocked out of the World Cup in the Caribbean receiving shocking defeat in the hands of Bangladesh. For a crazy cricket country, fans just couldn’t believe their eyes; demonstration, turmoil seemed to be the normal attractions of those days with burning posters and placards of the players before their houses.
A New Captain Leading an Young Team to the World Stage:
The roller-coaster ride saw them making a slight recovery by earning a test series victory in England. But, the new-born T-20 format was something the country didn’t consider seriously as there were rumors of skipping the tournament. When the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) did ultimately agree to participate, the biggest surprise broke out when an young Ms Dhoni was handed the leadership duties as the experienced Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Sourav Ganguly had opted out of the competition.
It didn’t take too long for the lads and fans to realize that the infant format wasn’t the bread and butter they were used to. The drama & suspense was observed in every single delivery. On their journey to the final, they had to doze so many pebbles and rocks. After a marginal victory via the bowl out against Pakistan, the blue brigade lost to New Zealand. The comeback earned the proper headlines thanks to Yuvraj Singh’s six sixes against England before a stunning success over host South Africa. Beating a formidable Australian side, they reached to the finals to face off Arch-rivals Pakistan, who too reached the platform shouldering on a decent bowling performance.
The temperature was forecasted to be the hottest; you could predict it even after knowing the final two oppositions.
India to bat First:
The Wanderers were roaring. One can easily feel the pressure of the arch-rivals in any game, even in a charity match; leave alone the maiden ICC WT-20 Final. Tension was gripping miles away to the respective sub-continents too. Dhoni winning the toss used the old sentence of putting runs on the board.
The occasion was a huge one and it could easily get on the young captain. With senior opener Virender Sehwag was out of the playing XI due to injury, he threw an untested Yusuf Pathan into the bull ring with Gautam Gambhir. It was like the coach of “Chain Kulli ki Main Kulli” film where he randomly provided a bat to the 13-year-old Karan to bat with that. A trusted Gamble I would say!!!
The debutants first couple of minutes wasn’t an ideal on at all. The very first delivery found hesitation between the openers when Gambhir played the ball to mid-off with soft-hands. “Yes-no…yes-no” and Pathan rushed back to the crease as Akmal broke the stumps. The Pakistani celebration didn’t lust long but the stage was getting brutal.
He now had to face a steaming in Mohammad Asif, who single-handedly broke the Indian batting in a fiery spell in the group stages. Well, the run-out moment appeared to be telling him something; if not now then when? The right-hander smashed the second delivery he faced, straight over the bowler for a half dozen before launching another one to get the same result. He hit another one through the off-side for a boundary.
A Slow first 10-over start for India:
The Gamble seemed to repay the trust. When he got out on 18(8) in the hands of Malik, he justified the spot of the replacing team-mate.
Robin Uthappa wasn’t in the form he showed in early stages of the tournament. He didn’t look in any comfort zone and was soon caught at covers to Afridi. The Bull-ring welcomed Yuvraj Singh with a huge cheer, after all he was taking the center stage after almost finishing Stuart Broad’s career. On the other end, Gambhir was going handsomely.
The later was doing almost the whole job. The timing was so sweet, short ball were cut square, leg-sided deliveries were tickled with ease, the outside off sump deliveries were charged inside out. He was growing in full confidence mode with each passing balls. India reached at 68-2 in the first 10-overs, still miles to progress.
Although, the Delhi boy was in the zone, Yuvraj seemed to have lost the knock, he went for a painful 14(19) with a solitary boundary. The next man, Ms Dhoni, hadn’t contributed much to write about too. At the end of the 16th, they could only advance to 114/4; only 46 runs being scared off the last 36-balls.
Gambhir propels India forward:
Gambhir after performing set knock of 75 at a strike rate of almost 140, got carried away sweeping one straight to short fine-leg. The onus as on an young Rohit Sharma, who just did something no one imagined, I guess. He guided one full toss post short man for four, slogged one over the mid-wicket.
In the final over, one of his lofted shots was almost caught by Hafeez, but I again repeat, “almost”. The ball balloned over the rope getting pushed by Hafeez hands. Six more for India!! Could it be the match-changing moment?? India finished on 157-5, a finals day against arch-rivals would make it felt like 170-odd for sure!!
“Everyone talks about myself or Gautam but no-body remembers Rohit score 36 off 18 or 20-balls (30 off 20-balls) in the final”. Yuvraj said on Sportskeeda’s show Free-hit. “Rohit’s innings was very special in the final.”
Dhoni gathered his team before the rope and entered with a hard body language. The job was marked out. The leader interestingly placed a fielder in between the second and third slip. On the 5th ball of the first over, Hafeez, just like he guided one all the time for a single in the whole competition, did exactly the same in the hands of the placing fielder. First blood for RP Singh!!
India made a great start:
Nazir was on another track; he just smacked couple of boundaries and sixes in the second Sreesanth over. Akmal, in the third over, playing one in double minds, saw the off-stump going everywhere. The left-armer was on fire. Younis walked in next with his side was on 26-2 at the third over.
Nazir was still on the charge but was suffering from an injury. Younis after playing one maiden from Sreesanth hit one straight to open his account. Meanwhile, I am just telling you it was a Pakistan featuring game, so you might be missing something!! Don’t you? Well, it did happen. Younis pushed one to mid-on and called for a run what Nazir failed to make and the third umpire confirmed the usual word. The skipper walked in.
Dhoni produced Joginder Sharma and he straightaway got Younis for 24. At the end of 9th over, Pakistan was pushed back at 65/4. The weak bowlers suddenly finished their quota. Irfan got the opponent leader. At 77/6 after 12th over, the Indian fans could sense the trophy coming to their bank. Arafat after playing couple of shots, too went back to the dug-out.
Misbah Slogs themselves to almost win:
Harbhajan had bowled in the slog overs but Misbah was on another planet. He made themselves back in the game with three long sixes. New man Tanvir too slapped couple of sixes before being bowled out to Sreesanth. Pakistan was required 20-runs in the last couple of overs. RP Singh was summoned and he bowled awesomely but the last ball four in the third man region made it comfortable for Misbah.
15 needed off the last 6-balls. Dhoni threw the ball to Joginder rather than Harbhajan. Well, the former did bowl good enough in the semis but that time he had so much in the bank to waste. Not this time around!!
Joginder ran in and bowled a wide one. Dhoni walked to him for advice. The next ball was a length pitched, which Misbah failed to connect. The upcoming ball was a full tose and was rewarded with full toll as the calm head smashed it over the bowler’s head for a 6.
The funny story of One over:
Another 6 to get in the last 4-balls, easily manageable but Pakistan can’t tolerate one more wicket. The prayers were observed in both the camps.
Here is Joginder Sharma, bowled one outside off, Misbah had a brain-fade and for some unknown reason scooped it over the third man. The roaring line spelled out, “Sreesannnttthhhh underneath it and he takes it.” The flashing moment felt like an era. Ind had won the Wt-20 2007.
The Indian team erupted in joy and made a sprint into the bull-ring. The hugs and congrats began but the camera found a heart-broken Misbah-ul-haq being sat on his knees. A wrong shot at the right time gave birth to Indian Premier League; it indeed changed Indian Cricket.
India: 157/5 (Gautam Gambhir: 75, Umar Gul: 3/28) beat Pakistan: 152 (19.3) (Misbah-ul-haq: 43, Irfan Pathan: 3/16, RP Singh: 3/28) by 5-runs.
Man of the Match: Irfan Pathan.
Man of the Tournament: Shahid Afridi.