ICC World Twenty20 2007: India's unforgettable run

India vs Pakistan. For the first time in a T20. For the first time, the men in blue took the field after their first match against Scotland rained out. Mohammad Asif scythed the top-order. Five Indians down, with less than 100 on board. Robin Uthappa and Mahendra Singh Dhoni steered the team to 141. Pakistan, in a very Pakistanesque manner, emulated India in losing its first five wickets under 100. Misbah-ul-Haq, as he’d go on to do it for many, many times, rescued Pakistan with a fighting knock (53). But with one to win off the last ball, he was run out, forcing the match to the tournament’s first bowl-out. Pakistan missed three, India hit three to win the game.
New Zealand would’ve felt insecure of the 191 it put together, chiefly thanks to the contributions from Brendon McCullum, Craig McMillan and Jacob Oram, when Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir tore into the Kiwi attack upfront. But once the openers were out, the rate of scoring reduced drastically. Daniel Vettori, on a flat Johannesburg track, was fabulous. He got the wickets of Gambhir, Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik and Irfan Pathan in his four overs, which cost only 20 runs.
You know this story already. If you have watched and rewatched and remember all the sixes, then, reminisce the carnage again. Everything was... let’s say, normal, till the end of the 18th over by Andrew Flintoff that went for 12 (Yuvraj scored two fours). The bowler then tested Yuvraj’s temper, rubbishing his shots. Yuvraj, as intended by Flintoff, was flared up. The fury had to be discharged from his system. Poor Stuart Broad, he bore the brunt on every delivery of the 19th over. “SIX SIXES IN AN OVER. YUVRAJ SINGH FINISHES THINGS OFF IN STYLE,” Ravi Shastri’s booming voice from the commentary might echo in the minds of those who witnessed the iconic event on TV.
Three quick dismissals jolted the Indian line-up in a knock-out game against the host on a tricky Durban pitch. India was left with a young Rohit Sharma, Dhoni, Irfan Pathan and the bowlers. Rohit and his skipper abated the danger, took India to a total (153/5) that can challenge the batting might of the South Africans. The former, especially, looked more assured against Morne Morkel and company. R. P. Singh then exploited the track and the conditions to threaten and dismiss the batsmen with swing. South Africa kayoed. Australia next.
The aggression — it was on the face, it was on their body language, it was there on the field. The Indians — a bunch of young kids led by a cool-headed skipper, without their elderly statesmen — Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly — were full of hustle, bravado and aggression. This was evident when Sreesanth snarled after dismissing the brawny Matthew Hayden; when Harbhajan roared after yorking Michael Clarke out; in the way Yuvraj thulped the Aussie bowlers. The Australians were subdued before the men in blue marched their way to the first-ever World T20 final.
The build-up to any India-Pakistan contest is extravagant. So, when the archrivals clashed for the first time in the final of a global event, it was, to many, a “matter of life and death”. To live up to the hype, the match needed to be nail-biting, like the last scene of a thriller, wherein the hero has to cut the right cable — red or green — to defuse the timebomb. And, Dhoni, amid collective gasps and scratches of heads, chose Joginder Sharma, who'd go on to become the DSP of Haryana Police, to do the job — of defending 13 runs in the last over. Pakistan had only a wicket to spare. Misbah was on strike. First three balls: a wide, a dot, a six. Six needed off four. Then, Misbah crouched and attempted a scoop. The ball ballooned, Sreesanth came under it. Nails were chewed, heart-rates shot up in India and Pakistan and other places. The ball fell on Sreesanth’s cupped palms. Exhalations of joy and disappointment followed. The World T20 was won by a bunch of boys, captained by a long-haired dude.