Twenty20 Wins!

There you have it, the perfect cricket final that anyone (spectators, sponsors, the BCCI, Lalit Modi et al) could have asked for. And what a deserving victory it was! The Royals, the team that was written off by everyone before the tounament even began, sneaked the cup on the final delivery.

How did a seemingly ordinary team (on paper) pull it off, and so comprehensively at that? Was it Warne’s inspirational captaincy that did it? Was it the superb allround performances by Watson, Pathan and Tanvir (to name a few) that tilted the scale in their favour? Was it the fact that the youngsters of the team lived up to the confidence that was shown in them? Was it because Rajasthan had stumbled upon the perfect Twenty20 team combination? Were their cheerleader just better at their job than the others? Maybe it was all that, and a bit of luck on the way, that was the secret of their success.

The tournament helped to unearth some great new talent for the Indians and surprisingly, for the Australians too (remember Shaun Marsh?). It also succeeded in doing something unheard of in Indian cricket – it made domestic cricket profitable. The transfers/purchase of players will add an interesting dimension to the game. Although they could have come up with better couloured caps for the best. I mean, purple and orange? Really?

Now for the obvious question, what does this mean for the 50 overs game? It’s going to be very difficult to sit through 50 ‘slow’ overs after that! Maybe it’s time for Twenty20 to take its place. The fifty over game was created in seventies to make the game more ‘fun’, and it was instantly successful. For more than 38 years, the fifty over format has enthralled the cricket fans. But then along came some wiseguy who noted that nothing interesting really happened between the 15th and 40th overs. Yeah, that’s right, I’m talking about you! So maybe its time we just did away with those overs and embraced Twenty20 cricket as its successor. I for one see no point in there being two different versions of the smaller format, specially when one of them is so overwhelmingly more exciting than the other. What do you think?

Cup Le India! India wins the Twenty20 World Cup

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.