A tourney that changed the face of the game

Before the inaugural edition of the World T20 in South Africa, India were quite chary of playing Twenty20 matches. They had played just one T20 international prior to the event in South Africa in 2007 and sent a young team under MS Dhoni as then captain Rahul Dravid and other two seniors Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly pulled out of the tournament.

Little did anyone realise that the 13-day tournament would change the face of the game and the fortunes of one individual. India’s stirring run in Johannesburg, where they beat arch-rivals Pakistan in a last-over thriller to lift the trophy, entrenched the shortest format of the game firmly in the consciousness of the cricketing universe while at the same time catapulting Dhoni as the newest face of Indian cricket.

Be that as it may, the South Africa event was an unqualified success.
From the first bowl-out which India won after they tied their league match against Pakistan to Yuvraj Singh’s stunning six sixes off Stuart Broad to T20s first hat-trick by Brett Lee against Bangladesh, the first edition was a perfect potboiler. The T20 also proved to be a format where it provided a level-playing field for ‘weaker’ teams as witnessed in Zimbabwe’s defeat of the mighty Australians.

The icing on the cake of this often frenetic and intense tournament was the India-Pakistan final. India had ridden on Yuvraj’s 38-ball 70 to topple Australia in the semifinals while Pakistan had demolished New Zealand. In a match that swung back and forth, the equation came to Pakistan needing 13 off last six balls with the last pair in the crease. It then boiled down to six off four. Easy one would have thought but Misbah-ul-Haq had a brain-freeze and the right-hander scooped Joginder Sharma’s third ball to S Sreesanth at fine leg. India were crowned the first World T20 champions.

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