The deciding day finally knocked the door of the Twenty20 World Cup, when the two teams competing for the honour of being addressed as a World Champion stood face-to-face for the ultimate clash. An Indo-Pak match has always been associated with to massive excitement, screaming and anxiety and that coupled with a WC final certainly adds a new thrill on the part of a spectator.
Once again, the toss turned out to be in India’s favour and as usual the captain’s words were “Bat First”, without any reluctance. The teams were charged up, spirits were high, and the enthusiasm knew no bounds and the pressure and anxiety were way beyond the control of the faint hearted. India started off in a normal fashion with run rate hovering around seven for the initial overs as India cruised to 50/2 in around 7 overs. Finally it turned out to be Gautam Gambhir’s day, who saw India to a defendable total of 157/5 with his sustained and dependable knock of 75 from 58 balls. The game was evenly poised as Pakistan initiated its batting after restricting India to an achievable total.
There was an atmosphere of tension and uncertainty all around as R.P.Singh began his run-up towards what could be a dream spell. A decent chase was taking shape when suddenly the in-form Imran Nazir was run-out by a direct hit by Uthappa, an initial turning point of the match. Soon after, India pulled back things and gave a tough fight to the Pakistan batsmen. As soon as India started to get a hold of the match, some hard hitting by Sohail Tanvir and Misbah-ul-haq made them realize that the show was still not over yet. After a series of pendulum swings, it all came down to 20 runs from the last 2 overs with Misbah taking the Indian bowlers on a stroll. It was the crunch of a match with heartbeats soaring, voices screaming and lips praying for the success of their native teams.
While it seemed all over for India, suddenly a beautiful delivery from R.P Singh knocked down the stumps of Umar Gul reviving the hopes of victory and reminding Pakistan that the game of cricket is fought till the very end. It was a test of nerves and required grit determination on part of each team to clinch the match from this mind-boggling situation.
What happened next, no Indian supporter could have taken it easy? Misbah blasted a six in the second ball of the last over thus thrashing the little hope that was still alive in the corner of our hearts (6 runs from 4 balls). Now it seemed the pendulum had finally decided its eventual position, when to everyone’s surprise a casual stroke from Misbah brought smiles back to the lips of Indian supporters (did I mention it right….Misbah’s hit…smiles on Indian supporters??). Yes, it certainly did as the ball landed securely in the hands of Sreesanth…. yippee!!! It was an Indian victory eventually, Pakistan was bowled out.
The Indian team emerged as a trendsetter as it had inaugurated the record books of the T20 World Cup by a fabulous display of confidence, team effort, discipline and self-belief. What could be more thrilling than winning a World Cup final by 5 runs when the chances seemed bleak? I salute the spirit of the game, the spirit of the supporters and cricket lovers all over the globe and above all the spirit of the cricketers that have kept alive and vibrant the game of cricket.