2pm Johannesburg time, 24 September 2007, a significant 'flick of coin' happened at the Wanderers and news broke through :- India had won the toss and elected to bat!
Opposition were arch rivals Pakistan and occasion was World Cup final. the first big one of shortest version of cricket. For next three hours, a billion hearts in India and a few million in Pakistan plus more millions world wide, didn't beat properly as drama started to unfold.
This first picture comes from the league match India and Pakistan played before in the same tournament. not a surprise for those who understand Ind v Pak value, it turned out to be nail biter, a tied game which India claimed through Bowl outs (a rule were each team selected 5 bowlers, and all 10 tried hitting the stumps without a batsman but a wicket keeper behind).. that plenty shootout kind of tie-breaker is now changed with super over rule in twenty20 cricket to find winner in matches where both teams score equal.
Robin Uthappa's delivery was the striking blow that day for Pakistan team (after Virendra Sehwag and Harbhajan Singh hit while Yasir Arafat and Umar Gul missed), and probably the first hint of glorious days to come for Indian team.
Today, in world cup final, injury to Virendra Sehwag allowed Yusuf Pathan, a butcher with bat, to debut for India and to surprise to many, was sent up as opener. Probably Indians wanted to make a statement to rival team, and it worked a little too.. Yusuf slogged Mohammad Asif for a six off only the second ball of the match but failed to continue. Robin Uthappa, Yuvraj Singh and captain MS Dhoni departed without making much impression against some ispired bowling from Sohail Tanvir, Shahid Afridi and later on, by Umar Gul whose 3 wickets forced Indians to satisfy for moderate 157.
Mohammad Hafeez out for one and hard hitting Kamran Akmal for a duck, Pakistan had had a troubled start although Imran Nazir, a consistent performer of that 2007 tournament, was collecting easy boundaries at other end. Younis Khan played his part with run a ball 24 but Shoaib Mallik, always a crisis man, disappointed.
Pakistan were 6 down for 77, needing 81 more off 48 balls. That time, match looked well in India's control.
Misbah-ul-Haq, holding the key to this final match, stuck like a glue and allowed Yasir Arafat and Sohail Tanvir to do the risk-taking. Over number 17 & 18 produced 19 and 15 runs respectively.. Pakistan now required 20 off last two balls. and then 13 off last over.
Joginder Sharma was given the ball to bowl final over, probably cause captain MS Dhoni knew this Haryana vetern didn't have much of International cricket left in him. A wide, a dot and then a six, Joginder nearly messed it up but got luckly when Misbah played a scoop shot you see here in the picture. Sreesanth took an easy catch at short fine leg and India won. by 5 run.
Misbah threw away his key to glory!
Post Match Presentation :
Shoaib Mallik, Pakistan captain, said thanks to fans back home and all muslim community around the world, insisting his team gave their 100%, did well in restricting strong Indian batting line up for moderate 157 but their batting failed.
Irfan Pathan, man of the final, said he was delighted to have made a successful comeback into Indian cricket team. "We played as a team and we won".
Shahid Afridi, man of the tournament, said winning or losing is a part of the game but what matters is playing good cricket. which Pakistan did. He congratulated India and admitted his batting had let country down but he concentrated on his bowling more.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India captain, said he'll treasure this moment for rest of his life. No one expected his young team to win, which inspired them. About his last over decision, Dhoni said Harbhajan Singh was not getting the yorkers right and hence he picked someone who badly wanted to impress in International cricket. Joginder Sharma did the job for his country.
A US$ 2 million bonus came Indian team's way from BCCI while a bonus of 1 crore rupees for Yuvraj Singh for his achievement of hitting six sixes in an over in the tournament.