Johannesburg, September 24, 2007. The Wanderers had witnessed gripping cricket contests over 51 years, but this one was out of the ordinary. The most intense rivalry in modern cricket playing out in the final of the coming-out event in the game's newest, shortest format. And it was down to a frenetic, hyper-charged final over. Thirteen needed for Pakistan to win the first ever World T20. One wide, one dot, 12 off five and a thunderous six by Misbah-ul-Haq off a full toss from Joginder Sharma, a surprise choice to bowl the final over.
Rival packs of fans were consumed by a wild madness. From 77 for 6 in the 12th over, Misbah had steered Pakistan to within a clean strike of a global cricket title - if they won, it would be their first since the 1992 World Cup and the Austral-Asia Cup in 1994. His was a methodically weighted 43, with bold blows struck at key moments.
Sharma, the most medium of pacers, said later he knew Misbah would go for the scoop or the lap shot. A fraction of a pause in his final delivery stride helped him cut the pace, alter the length and follow the batsman. Misbah, committed, trapped, could only spoon the ball into the air. Sreesanth at fine leg, brought in, completed the catch, delirium followed, and Misbah was on his haunches in despair.
The rippling echo of that last ball was to change world cricket forever. A dramatic final with a dream finish meant India was suddenly besotted by the three-hour thrillfest of T20. Four months to the day, eight franchises were sold and the first Indian Premier League was set in motion.