September 25, 2007

India vs Pakistan Twenty20 World Cup final was the unexpected thing to happen in the T20 World Cup. Both sides had very little experience in this shortest form of cricket and had crashed out of this year’s ODI World Cup in the very first round. But what an excellent cricket these teams have played to reach this far. A millions of applauses!

In the final, India won the toss and as expected, chose to bat first. Their innings was sedate as they kept losing wickets regularly. Gautam Gambhir held one end up and scored his 3rd consecutive 50 of the tournament.In the process, he became the second highest run-getter in the tournament. Towards the end, young Rohit Sharma’s pyrotechnics ensured that India reached 157, a total they had fighting chance to defend.

Pakistan’s chase began with fireworks from Imran Nazir but wickets were lost regularly at the other end. When Imran Nazir was run-out by Robin Uthappa the match was starting to tilt in India’s favour. Shahid Afridi lasted a ball and departed with score at 77 of 11.2 overs. At this point, Indians believed that they had the game in their hands as the asking rate was climbing steeply.But Misbah-ul-Haq, the man in form combined with Sohail Tanveer to clobber 5 sixes in two overs bowled by Harbhajan and Sreesanth to reduce the asking rate drastically. Indians then fought back by dismissing 9 Pakistani batsman for 141.Pakistan needed 13 runs off the last over with the dangerman Misbah on strike.

Dhoni, surprisingly again, chose to bowl the previous match hero Joginder Sharma instead of the experienced Harbhajan. When he started with a wide, Indian fans groaned, and the situation became even more desperate when Misbah pummelled a full toss miles over long-off for six. But with victory in his grasp, his judgement failed him. Moving across his stumps, he went for the scoop down to fine leg. He didn’t connect cleanly, and millions on the subcontinent held their breath as Sreesanth came under the ball at short fine leg. When he held it, the stadium erupted. India had won the T20 World Cup and the world was at their feet. Misbah, meanwhile, collapsed to the ground ruing his judgement to play the scoop shot over fine leg.

Poor Misbah-ul-Haq found himself facing the fire once again in an India-Pakistan match. Like their last encounter, he kept Pakistan in the match by playing intelligently and picking the right balls to hit. A huge six in the last over, which started with Pakistan needing 13, seemed to swing the match decisively in their favour. Then, with only one wicket in hand and fine leg in the circle, Misbah went for that scoop which, not for the first time, ended in tears for the batsman. Sreesanth would have never taken a more important catch in his life. But for Misbah, who has been Pakistan’s surprise star of the tournament, it will take some forgetting!

Indians did a victory lap in the stadium with the Indian flag and there was absolute euphoria all around.The noise was deafening in a packed stadium and even though the Indians outnumbered the Pakistanis by some distance, the shouting match was almost even. The battle cry was similar: every Jeetega bhai Jeetega, India Jeetega (roughly translated to “Brother, India will win) was followed by Jeetega bhai Jeetega, Pakistan Jeetega. But the man who almost stole the applause from the cricketers was Shah Rukh Khan, the Indian film superstar equally adored in Pakistan. Shah Rukh, a self-confessed cricket fan, recently starred as a hockey coach in the hit film Chak De India. He was last seen on a cricket ground in England during the Indian tour, and was now seen standing next to Lalit Modi, the BCCI vice-president, deliriously cheering every Pakistani wicket. When his face was flashed on the giant screen, the crowd went even more delirious.

Irfan Pathan won a deserving Man-of-the-match award while Shahid Afridi was named the Player-of-the-tourament. Lets hope that this great Indian victory spurs a new revolution in the Indian cricket and the Indian team become a group of world-beaters. Chak diya India!!misbahscoop.jpgvictory.jpgt20trophy.jpgchamps.jpg