An inspired bowling performance by India saw them clinch the first T20 World Cup against arch rivals Pakistan in one of the most exciting finals of a major trophy ever.
The two teams that had limped out of the ICC World Cup in the initial group stage have been the best and most exciting teams during the two week tourniment in South Africa. Both teams, lead by new young captains, have played a fearless brand of cricket worthy of the tourniment, and exactly what the ICC had invisioned for the format.
Ten days earlier, in Durban, India and Pakistan played out a tie, and were involved in the first ever international bowl out, the equivalent of a soccer penalty shoot out, which India won 3-0. This match, the final, threatened to treat the capasity Johannesburg crowd to the same tension filled, nail biting finale, but in the end India’s bowlers held their nerve, and were crowned the first ever T20 world champions.
Wining the toss and deciding to bat, India scrapped their way to 157-7 on a pitch where 180 was considered par and 200 a good score, Pakistan must have fancied their chances of getting the runs. However finals bring with them added pressure, and Pakistan v India even more so, and so runs on the board would always have suited Dhoni. The pitch didn’t seem to play as well as many thought, with batsman struggling to time and force the ball, but a superb inings of 75 from Gambhir and a cameo knock of 30 from Rohit Sharma, got India to a below par total, but one that good bowling could defend. For Pakistan Umar Gul was once again the star, taking 3-28.
Pakistan, who would have been confident of chasing down the target, having only lost the bowl out against India in the 2 weeks, lost wickets at regular intervals, and with 54 needed from just 24 balls and with only 3 wickets in hand were well and truely out of it. Misbah Ul-Haq had other plans and attempted to rescue Pakistan again, just as he had with a 50 in that tie in Durban, and got Pakistan to within 5 runs of the total in the last over, when he was the last man out for 43. India’s bowling was lead by opening bowler RP Singh with 3-23 and a superb middle innings burst from Irfan Pathan, who claimed 3-16.
In the end a successful championship got the match it deserved, and the winners it deserved, and most importantly perhaps, for world cricket, that winner was not Australia.