What a game! It was a fitting finale to a tournament that’s succeeded in totally rejuvenating the game of cricket. Half a billion fans from the sub-continent got to see what was arguably the most topsy-turvy India-Pakistan encounter ever.
There really were no losers today – both teams gave it their absolute best and anyone could have won the trophy. India eventually won it because they got their basics right – they held their catches, hit the stumps when it mattered and most of all bowled to a plan. RP Singh and Irfan Pathan’s disciplined bowling took the game away from Pakistan’s grasp. I don’t remember ever seeing the Indian bowlers rattle the stumps of so many batsmen in a single tournament. Gautam Gambhir probably played the most important innings of his career so far – a level headed 70 which helped India reach a respectable total. Pakistan bowled well and would have considered 155 a very gettable score. Imran Nazir’s blitz at the start almost took the game away from India and the direct hit from Uthappa that sent him to the pavilion changed the course of the match – and this match changed course as frequently as a drunken biker on glycerin! Every single player contributed to India’s victory – something that’s begun to happen very often in Indian cricket since the youngsters have arrived. The game was never short on drama. Just when India seemed to have got the match won, Misbah and Tanvir exploded into a flurry of sixes – four on the trot which got them within 12 runs of the Indian total with one over to go. A lot of people would consider Misbah’s shot inappropriate but no one can even come close to estimating the kind of pressure he was under. He played the shot he thought would clinch the game for Pakistan and unfortunately for him, it didn’t work out. Another day and it could have been Pakistan’s game. That’s the beauty of Twenty20 cricket – you just don’t know whose day it’s going to be.
No one thought the Indians had even a smattering of a chance to win when the tournament began. But they showed that a team could achieve when it plays together.
The Twenty20 World Cup was everything the 50 overs cup wasn’t. It didn’t go on for eternity, it was unpredictable, and most of all – it was lip-smacking, slog-sweeping, stump-smashing, nail-biting fun! New heroes were made, new strokes were invented, new field placements were discovered, but most importantly a new zing was injected into the game. The format is here to stay and so are the thousands of new spectators it has attracted to the sport.