As defending champions India prepare to take on arch rivals Pakistan tomorrow in champions trophy 2017 final, many in the dressing room will be taking a walk down the memory lane to the last time India faced Pakistan in the finals of a major ICC tournament – the finals of the World T20 Championship at Johannesburg in 2007, where India snatched victory from the virtual jaws of defeat to claim the first World T20 crown. The famous victory propelled the young captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni into the limelight, and brought to the fore the twenty-over a side format in India. The next year, the governing cricket body in India, BCCI, launched the Indian Premier League in response to the ICL, and the rest, as they say, is history.
We look at here a brief recap of when India first met Pakistan in the league stage of the tournament, where India won in the so-called ‘bowl out’ after a heart-stopping tie, picking up two important points. Just like it is in this year’s Champions Trophy, Pakistan then charted an improbable course into the finals of the World T20, riding on the back of Misbah-ul-Haq who came of age with some brilliant late order shots.
ICC World T20, 10th Match, Group D: India v Pakistan at Durban, Sep 14, 2007 :
Put into bat first, India got off to a shaky start when swinger Mohammad Aasif removed both openers Gambhir and Sehwag in his first two overs. Yuvraj Singh fell soon to the pacer, leaving India reeling and definitely in trouble at 19/3 in 5 overs. It fell to Robin Uthappa to try and mend things, and he did with a half century that probably helped the Indian side get to a respectable score. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals though, and had it not been for some late order flourishes by Dhoni and Pathan, India would not have gotten to 141 as they did. It was Aasif who made Indian batters miserable, picking up 4 wickets in his four overs and giving only 18 runs.
In reply, Pakistan scored at a slow over rate throughout, never really making a start, and at one point, they were 87-5 with key batsman Shoaib Malik falling to Pathan. They needed a solid hand to guide them to a victory, and in walked Misbah, whose half century made sure that Pakistan were in sniffing distance of victory. However, an unfortunate run out on the last ball made sure that the two teams’ scores were tied, and the game went to the ‘bowl out’, the method used to decide tied matches then. Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa were accurate, while Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi all missed by a fair distance to hand the match to the Indians.
ICC World T20, Final: India v Pakistan at Johannesburg, Sep 24, 2007 :
In a rematch of the group match where India bested Pakistan in a bowl out, not necessarily the most convincing of ways to beat a world class team, India faced Pakistan in a major tournament’s final after a long time. Electing to bat first, Indian opener Gambhir was the man in the first half of the match, hitting an exquisite 75 off only 54 balls with 8 fours and 2 sixes to take charge of the Indian assault. A 50-run partnership with Yuvraj Singh seemed to be taking them to a score as high as 200, but it was not to be as Umar Gul produced some exquisite reverse swing bowling to clean up Yuvraj, Dhoni and then Gambhir himself to put the brakes firmly on the Indian charge. The Indians were restricted to 157, a rather gettable score.
Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals as they faced the same problems as in the last game. Hafeez was cleaned up on the fifth bowl of the innings, caught behind by Uthappa off RP Singh, and Imran Nazir’s sedate knock did not steady the Pakistanis as they sunk to 77 for 6 in 12 overs, headed for defeat. It fell again to Misbah-ul-Haq to mount a late for the Pakistanis, at one point hitting Harbhajan Singh for three sixes in an over. He seemed to have hammered the equation to Pakistan’s advantage. He could not prevent wickets from falling around him, and come last over, Pakistan needed 13 off it but with only one wicket standing. Dhoni, in a now legendary tale of brilliant captaincy, tossed the ball to unheralded Joginder Sharma. Misbah seemed to have him by the horns, as Joginder first balled a wide and then a full toss that was sent out of the park by Misbah, making it six off four balls. However, Misbah holed out to Sreesanth when he attempted to scoop the ball to fine leg, a novel shot back in those days, and history was made with Indians being crowned the kings of T20 because Misbah could not hold his nerves.