Twenty20 World Cup 2007 September 24, 2007

Dhoni and Malik triumph for cricket

Cricket's greatest rivals played out a thrilling encounter, a feast fit for a king. The King of India has to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni whose energy and positivity filled his troops with confidence and a welcome nerve. Pakistan's captain did much the same for his men but the pressure of a World Cup final chase weighed heavily on Pakistan's batsmen.

Misbah-ul-Haq was magnificent but his fellow batsmen played without an ounce of his calm other than Imran Nazir, which is saying something. But Pakistan's batsmen have only themselves to blame for this defeat after the match had been handed to them on a golden platter by their inspired bowling attack.

None the less, Pakistan have gained much from this tournament. Foremost among the gains is the revival of Pakistan's bowling attack, a boon in any form of cricket. Umar Gul is the stand-out bowler of the tournament. A new player of obvious talent, Sohail Tanvir, has emerged to offer a dangerous swish of left-arm with ball or bat. An older player of latent talent, Misbah has broken through to stake a claim for Pakistan's middle order. And the leadership combination of Malik and Geoff Lawson has instilled a spirit that Pakistan fans had worried would be confined to their memories.

Pakistan can build from here, a tough year lies ahead. But there is no use in wallowing in the depression of a valiant defeat. Pakistan and India were the best teams in this tournament, a miraculous recovery after the Caribbean. This is a cause of celebration throughout South Asia. Today, India, the team that mastered its nerves better in the Bullring won a deserved victory. But Pakistan and India together scored a triumph for international cricket as a thrilling spectator sport. Congratulations Messrs Dhoni and Malik.

Kamran Abbasi is an editor, writer and broadcaster. He tweets here