India v Pakistan
Wisden's review of the ICC World Twenty20 final between India and Pakistan
At Johannesburg, September 24, 2007. India won by five runs. Toss: India. Twenty20
international debut: Y. K. Pathan.
Gautam Gambhir cracked 75 from 54
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India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup when Misbah-ul-Haq's attempted scoop
landed in the hands of Sreesanth at short fine leg. Pakistan started the final over needing
a manageable 13, though with their last pair at the crease. That became 12 from six
after Joginder Sharma bowled the widest of wides, then 12 from five after Misbah
played and missed. He played and hit next time, launching Sharma's nervy full toss
down the ground. Six from four; one stroke would do it. But the Indian juggernaut -
they had defended totals in their last three games - had just enough momentum:
Misbah's shot proved too ambitious against a bowler of Sharma's modest pace. The tension released, the Wanderers erupted in deafening ecstasy. Hundreds of Indian
tricolours waved in late-afternoon sun as the victory lap began.
Dhoni opting to bat after winning his fifth successive toss was expected; Gambhir's
opening partner was not. Yusuf Pathan, half-brother of Irfan, replaced the injured
Sehwag to make his international debut. But it was Gambhir, unfurling classical coverdrives
and regularly splitting the off-side field, who kept the Indian innings afloat as
wickets fell. After astounding performances against England and Australia, Yuvraj Singh
was seen as the threat, but he radiated tiredness, not terror, and his bat had the power
of a sherbet fountain, but with rather less fizz. The disciplined Pakistani bowlers made
life awkward too, and the acceleration barely materialised. Umar Gul, searing in yorkers,
led the way with three wickets.
On a reliable, if slowish, pitch India's total felt distinctly below par - and Pakistan
felt in control. Even though R. P. Singh whipped out Mohammad Hafeez in the first
over and cleaned up Kamran Akmal, heaving across the line, in the third, it was surely
Pakistan's game. After all, Imran Nazir had plundered 21 from Sreesanth's skew-whiff
first over and was going like a train. Sreesanth's second was a maiden, and the pivotal
moment came in his third, thanks to an inspired piece of fielding from Uthappa. His
stop, gather and throw formed one sinuous movement - and the rampant Nazir was a
fraction short. Pakistan needed to rebuild, but the middle order perished in a rash of
mistimed shots. Bowling with intelligent variation of pace, Irfan Pathan grabbed two
in an over as Pakistan slumped to 77 for six. Now India seemed in control.
However, the level-headed Misbah set about rescuing Pakistan, just as he had in the
group game against India (when he had overseen 41 from the last 18 to level the
scores) and against Australia. Until the seventh wicket fell with 54 required from four
overs, he was in no hurry. He promptly hit three sixes off Harbhajan Singh to restore
parity, and in no time 35 from 18 balls became a realistic 20 from 12. Pakistan now
looked better placed, though by the end of R. P. Singh's tight over, the 19th, no one
could tell who was in the ascendancy: 13 needed with nine down was too close to
call. Dhoni plumped for the seam of Joginder Sharma rather than the chastened
Harbhajan for the last over, and the engrossing conclusion to an enthralling competition
had one final twist.
Man of the Match: I. K. Pathan. Attendance: 24,345.
Man of the Tournament: Shahid Afridi.