Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Mission Accomplished

He came, he led, and he conquered. Mahendra Singh Dhoni did in 2007 what Kapil Dev did to Indian Cricket in 1983. No expectations and team performed well to reach the pinnacle of excellence. Yes, we have won the inaugural edition of twenty20 world cup. Hurray, what a nail biting final that had been. Beating arch-rivals Pakistan and lifting the world cup. Truly, this is a dream come true. That has certainly done some healing to the wounds of the Caribbean debacle earlier this year.

pictury courtesy :

Frankly speaking, I did not expect so much attention would be diverted for this shortest version of cricket at the start of this tournament. That may be largely attributed to the fact that India had played only one Twenty20 international before the start of this world cup, though the first Twenty20 international had been played in 2005.(1st twenty20 international was played between Australia and New Zealand on 17 February 2005, with Australia winning the match by 44 runs). India’s only match was with South Africa on 1st December 2006 which they won by 6 wickets. Low on experience but high on confidence India under a young captain had arrived on the big stage in South Africa after a closely fought one day series in England.

The first match with Scotland being washed out and teams sharing a point each, it was left to the young brigade to perform well in next clash with Pakistan. 142 the target they set for Pakistan though was not intimidating, but Pakistan had to sweat for their runs with Indians making target stiffer ball after ball. With the match tied the first ever bowl out in a world cup came into picture. India won the bowl-out and advanced to next stage – Super Eight! For the curious folks the first ever bowl out in a Twenty20 International was between New Zealand and West Indies on 16 February 2006 with both teams tied at the score of 126. New Zealand eventually won the match 3-0 just as India did against Pakistan.

The first match for India in Super Eight saw them loosing to New Zealand from a position of strength with fireworks from Sehwag and Gambhir, by 10 runs. But that match also saw them giving too many runs in the end overs and loosing too many wickets in a hurry. That should have taught a thing or two about the winning ways in the coming games. As a result we were about to see new Indian team with disciplined bowling and sharp fielding. Incidently this was the only match where they chasing a target.

Then, came the 2 big games, one against the England, the so called Twenty20 specialists and another against the mighty South Africans and both had to be won comfortably if India had to be in the Semi finals. If the match against England saw the batting prowess then against South Africans it was the bowling and fielding which stood out. Yuvraj Singh’s magnificent 6 sixes in an over off Stuart Broad in the match against England will be in memory for the cricket fans for a long time. Well, this is only the third instance of such feat in an international match. South Africans did everything right to restrict India without Yuvraj to a manageable 153. But to their surprise they were then facing dilemma of whether to win the match or to get those crucial 126 runs needed qualify for the semis. In the end they could not manage either of them. India found a unlikely hero in otherwise wayward RP Singh who took 4 for 13, equally supported by S Sreesanth (2 for 23) and Harbhajan Singh (2 for 31). But that match also saw some brilliant fielding. Karthik’s catch of Graeme Smith and Rohit Sharma’s accurated throw to get rid of dangerous Justin Kemp saw match swinging in India’s favour. Robin Singh, the fielding coach would have been a proud man seeing the athletics of his boys.

Stage had finally set up for the Dhoni’s boys to take on the mighty Australians. The match saw them putting a good total of 188 with many of Australian bowlers going for runs rather than wickets, which is a hall mark of Australian bowlers. Australian backlash was expected as was seen in the way Hayden and Symonds batted. When it seemed match was going away from the Indians, Dhoni made the right move by bringing in Sreesanth who had given away just 6 runs in his first 3 overs and got the prized wicket of Gilchrist. This was gamble since Dhoni had to fill in that one over which otherwise would have been bowled by Sreesanth in the end. But then the pace with which Hayden was going it seemed match would be over with 2 overs left! And the ploy worked Sreesanth who had troubled Hayden at the start of the inning had his man. And then followed the procession of Australian middle order which would have been otherwise a Indian scene in most occasions. The untested middle order helped India to some extent to win that match. But then even in the last over match could have swung Australian way. But that was not to be. Joginder Sharma who had gone for plenty of runs in his first 2 overs had done trick for India. Hurray! We are in finals. Interestingly, India had played their matches against England, South Africa and Australia at Durban and won all of them.

picture courtesy :

Final as expected by everyone was closely fought match. 157 though seemed to be a low total considering the runs scored by India against Australians in the match before. But then Pakistan bowling was exceptional. Most of the balls were yorkers and unplayable. Law of averages did Yuvraj Singh in and he could not repeat the heroics against England and Australia. It was a wise move by Pakistani Captain, Shoaib Malik to bowl spin at both ends when Yuvraj was at crease and that was a deciding factor in India not piling up a huge total. Having said that Gautam Gambhir got his timing correct to score a brisk 75 off 54 balls and Rohit Sharma’s hard hitting in the end helped India to cross that psychological barrier of 150. And then the hunt began. Undeterred by the 2 wickets fallen initially, Imran Nazir was going great guns only to be stopped by Robin Uthappa. This was clearly the turning point in the match. Add to that the first ball dismissal of Shahid Afridi made things easier for India. Indians had done their home work well. But in twenty20 cricket you never know one over could change the course of the game. That was exactly what happened when Harbhajan was hit thrice over the fence by the in-form Misbah-ul-Haq. If few runs had to be scored for Pakistan victory then few had wickets had to be taken for Indian victory. Those last three overs, man; you could hear your heart beating loud and clear. Not to explain those last 15 deliveries, which made our emotions happy and sad, change every moment? That fateful scoop by Misbah-ul-Haq off Joginder Sharma landing in the safe hands of Sreesanth saw India lifting the world cup after 24 years.

This has been my dream to see India win the world cup in our time. That did not materialize in 1996 or in 2003 when we came so close to winning one. This is very special seeing the people marching along the streets holding the Indian flag hailing the Indian win after the end of the match. Indian team holding the world cup, Irfan and Harbhajan’s dance, hugs all around make some of the unforgettable moments for a many years to come.

As Dhoni mentioned in his post-match presentation this win will herald new dawn in Indian cricket. And we will see a Twenty20 revolution in our country. This win has been collective effort with each match seeing a new hero. Young India has finally arrived. Now it is up to the managers of this game in India to make the best use of this young bunch and form a consistently performing Indian Cricket Team.


  1. Nice Post, covered all most the whole twenty20 W C, quite unbiased one

    Do read my blog on the same topic but of a different genre "laughter"

    and let me know what you feel,
    b/w I am shande's friend

  2. Nice article! And yes, this was an awesome game worthy of a final.

  3. comprehensive post. this post can used as a summary of first T20 world cup ...



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