India Twenty20 World Champions
For a change, it was Pakistan that snatched defeat from the jaws of victory.
I wonder what reception awaits Misbah back home; the awkward scoop that he played wasn't the last ball of the match, there were three more deliveries to go, and Pakistan needed only 6. Given the way Misbah was playing -- only the previous ball he had clubbed a low full toss over the ropes for a six -- he could have done it.
Here is the Cricinfo commentary of the last over:
19.1 Joginder Sharma to Misbah-ul-Haq, 1 wide, short of a length and far outside the off stump, that one barely lands on the pitch. Nerves here for Joginder Sharma. Big, big wide. Easily called.
12 needed from 6 now
19.1 Joginder Sharma to Misbah-ul-Haq, no run, short of a good length and outside the off, play and a miss, the tension mounts.
12 from 5 needed
19.2 Joginder Sharma to Misbah-ul-Haq, SIX, full-toss outside the off, that's not the place to bowl at this time. Misbah is cool as ice, lines this up and pounds the ball straight back down the ground. This is a baseball style home run. Such incredible hitting under pressure. You have to give it to Misbah.
6 needed from 4 balls now
19.3 Joginder Sharma to Misbah-ul-Haq, OUT, India! It's all over here! Full and on the stumps. Misbah goes for the scoop shot over short fine-leg. That is a risky shot to play with only 6 needed from 4 balls. Straight up in the air and Sreesanth takes the catch. India have won by 5 runs in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20.
India win by 5 runs, three balls to spare.
This match last evening at Johannesburg, the final of the first Twenty20 Championship, was much closer than India's semifinal against Australia. That victory looked much more emphatic than this one. Actually, this seemed to be drifting perilously to the earlier India-Pak match which ended in a bowl-out.
Pakistan was so close, they were almost there. In such situations, unlike wide-margin results, it's the slightest error that does one team in. It looked like Joginder's loose final over was gifting the match away to Pakistan, but before Joginder could do that, Misbah did.
Reuters photo by Juda Ngwenya of India's players posing with the ICC World Twenty20 trophy.
With each Twenty20 match, I am getting more and more convinced that this abridged version tests the cricketing skills to the maximum. Cricketing fame has been biased towards the batsmen. It has been always thought batsmen won matches. T20 will change that.
Bowlers are so crucial to this form of cricket, more than, if not as much as, batsmen. Like I said in an earlier post, each ball sent down has to be of perfect line and length. A skilful bowler who can keep his cool, will strike gold here, since batsmen under pressure are bound to miscue a shot.
Can't believe it has been 24 long years since India won a Cricket World Cup. Hopefully the Cup will come home again sooner. Kapil's win was in the pre-cable TV era. Then we all crowded around the radio. And for the vast number of teenagers and twenty-somethings, who dominate the world so much now, this is their first cricket World Cup.
What is T20 is for Sachin, Sourav, Dravid was ODI for Gavaskar, Vengsarkar and Viswanath! What a generational change cricket itself has undergone!
By the way, I don't know if anyone of us realised that it was only six months and one week back (on March 17) India lost to Bangladesh by five wickets in a Group B ODI World Cup match at Port of Spain. Then, on March 23rd, Sri Lanka drove the final nail defeating India by 69 runs. What a humiliating run it was. People vowed never to watch this game ever again. It's all forgotten and forgiven!
The next action isn't far off. Not the T20 but the ODI: India take on Australia in Bangalore on September 29, the coming Saturday, just four days away!