India’s World Cup win on 25th June 1983, Lords changed Indian cricket forever. It empowered the subcontinent and India later went on to become the biggest financial power in cricket.
India’s win on 24th September 2007, Johannesburg did the same for T20 cricket. The World Cup win saw the Indians embracing the T20 format and launching the Indian Premier League in 2008. The IPL has transformed T20 cricket forever. This game-changing triumph came in an India-Pakistan match.
Setting the stage
India won the toss and decided to put runs on the scoreboard in the high-pressure final against the arch-rivals. With Virender Sehwag ruled out, the team management decided to not only hand a debut to Yusuf Pathan but also sent him at the top spot. He lasted only eight balls but his 13 runs with one six and a four were impactful. India failed to sustain the momentum and kept losing wickets one after the other. The only exception was the opener Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir held the innings together till the very end. He fell for 75 from 54 balls in the 18th over. India’s score at that time was just 130. A 20-year old batting on 6(7) at that point took charge and blasted 24 runs in the next nine balls. Rohit Sharma’s 16-ball 30 helped India post a competitive score of 157/5 in the grand final.
The thrilling chase
The final kept oscillating from one side to the other akin to a pendulum. RP Singh struck in the first over itself to put Pakistan on the backfoot. However, Imran Nazir took no cognisance of it. He smashed two sixes and two fours in the next over bowled by Sreesanth. RP took out Kamran Akmal but Nazir continued the assault with Younis Khan at the other end. The turning point came in the sixth over as Robin Uthappa’s direct throw found Nazir short of the crease.
The wicket derailed the chase. Later, Irfan Pathan’s double blow reduced Pakistan to 77/6 and the match seemed to be in firm control of the bowling side. Misbah-ul-Haq stretched the innings without giving an inch. Needing 54 runs from the last four overs, the Pakistani batsman decided to carve a legacy for himself. He proceeded to smash three monstrous sixes in Harbhajan Singh’s over to storm back in the game. In the following over, Sohail Tanvir cleared the fence twice before getting out in the same over. RP Singh bowled an extraordinary penultimate over but an outside edge on the last ball once again balanced the game.
When the final over began in the late glowing evening, Pakistan needed 13 runs with one wicket remaining. MS Dhoni entrusted the ball to Joginder Sharma. The bowler with an experience of three T20Is and four ODIs geared up to bowl the most important over of his life.
The first ball was wide. Captain MS Dhoni ran in from his wicketkeeping position and calmed the bowler. It seemed to help when Misbah swung hard on the next ball but failed to connect. Sharma followed this with a full toss which Misbah duly deposited in the stands. The World Cup was just one shot away…for both the sides.
Everyone who saw it can still replay it perfectly in their head. A full ball outside off stump from Sharma, Misbah moves towards the ball, his intention is to ramp it over the fielder at short fine leg, he fails to connect the shot properly, the ball balloons and settles in the hands of Sreesanth. The rest is history.