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Alternative Universe

Pakistan win the 2007 T20 World Cup

A new era unfolds where Misbah is our Thala

Alan Gardner
Alan Gardner
Misbah kneels in gratitude after winning the World T20 while the Indians run around, unable to believe they lost the game  •  Getty Images

Misbah kneels in gratitude after winning the World T20 while the Indians run around, unable to believe they lost the game  •  Getty Images

In the Alternative Universe series, our writers let their imagination change the game: here, the first World T20 final, between India and Pakistan in 2007 gets a new result
The moment
It was all about the build-up. Pakistan had lost and then won the game in the way only Pakistan can, from 77 for 6 and needing ten runs an over, to a decidedly more friendly equation of six off the last four balls. Misbah-ul-Haq, a mere stripling at 33, gave us an early glimpse of those tuk-tuk BOOM powers, and coming into the final over, the weight of Indian expectations had settled on Joginder Sharma and his medium-dobbers. He starts with a wide, before Misbah crunches the second legitimate delivery, a full toss, for six. And then, and then… the scoop.
The tweak
We can all picture the moment, as Misbah walks across in premeditated fashion, only to plop the limpest of shots into the bread basket of Sreesanth at short fine leg. But what if, in an alternative timeline, he played the ball on merit? A slowish, length delivery outside off stump - time to set the feet and larrup it straight back down the ground. Okay, maybe this one doesn't go for six, but the pressure has truly got to Sharma now. He wobbles down another wide, and Misbah then calmly nudges the one to unleash delirium among Pakistan's fans.
What happened next
Denied what would have been an unexpected victory in a tournament they had actively lobbied against, India quickly loses interest in T20. Lalit Modi's idea for an "Indian Premier League" is mothballed, while MS Dhoni carries the can for failure, widely ridiculed for giving the final over to Sharma. He returns to Jharkhand, cuts his flowing mane and is never picked for India again, instead becoming a helicopter pilot in his spare time. We enter the age of Misbah the Finisher, as Pakistan's hero becomes an all-formats mainstay. He takes over the Test captaincy in early 2010, overseeing a tour of England in which the team is lauded for their sportsmanship and good conduct. The following year, Misbah is at it again, timing his late assault to perfection to knock India out of the World Cup semi-final on home soil. He retires with Pakistan holding the Test mace, and in his country's next general election, pips Imran Khan to the role of prime minister.
For more such flights of fancy, click here.

Alan Gardner is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick