On this day in 2007: Dhoni brought the T20 world cup home

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It was 13 years ago on this day one of the best T20 matches ever was played. It was the final of first-ever T20 World Cup and the two best performing teams of tournament, India and Pakistan were playing. A final stage and two of fiercest rivals were playing at a full house in Johannesburg. India was lead by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, very early days as captain, & Pakistan was lead by a more experienced Shoaib Malik.

India won the toss and elected to bat. Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan were opening for India. Sehwag was injured on the morning of match and India went with Yusuf. Gambhir and Yusuf opened on a brisk note with Yusuf hitting a six and a four of Asif before perishing in 3rd over after playing a cameo of 15 of 8 balls.

Gambhir took the responsibility of scoring the runs and anchoring the innings as Uthappa, Yuvraj, Dhoni struggled with timings on a two-paced wicket. Gambhir was finding the boundary at right time and kept the run rate above 7 till he was at the crease. Uthappa, Yuvraj, Dhoni all played at a strike rate of below 100 and Gambhir was hitting at 138-140 which shows how well he was playing.

Gambhir departed for 75( 8*4, 2*6) in 18th over with score being 130/5. Rohit Sharma who was playing at number 6 played a cameo of 30 of 16 balls(2*4 & 1*6) which ensured India crossed the 150 marks and finished with 157/5. In a big final this was equivalent of a 175-180 score. Pakistan had to chase down the target and India knew that chasing is never their strong point so some quick wickets and they will put pressure on Pakistan team.

RP Singh strikes in first over to dismiss Hafeez and put Pakistan on the back foot. Imran Nazir counter-attacked and scored 24 of Sreesanth’s over. RP Singh again strikes in next over to dismiss Kamran Akmal. Uthappa ran out Nazir in 6th over with score being 53/3. Nazir made 31 of 14 balls(4*4 & 2*6).

It gave Indian team the chance to bowl tight overs at Younis and Malik as both struggled to find the timing. Sreesanth who was clobbered for 24 in his opening over bowled a maiden over. Some quiet overs and Younis in trying to break the shackles lost his wicket in 9th over with 65 on the board. Malik & Afridi both were dismissed by Irfan Pathan in 12th over with Pakistan in a spot of bother at 77/6. Pakistan were finding it hard to hit the off pace deliveries.

Irfan took his third wicket by dismissing Yasir Arafat and Pakistan were 105/7 in 16 overs. Misbah, who was playing sluggish innings till then, targeted Harbhajan Singh as the over went for 19 runs with Misbah hitting 3 sixes towards short side of the boundary. Tanvir hit two sixes of Sreesanth in next over but tried one hit too many and was bowled on the last ball of 18th over. With the score at 138/8.20 reqd of 12 balls, RP bowled the second last over and conceded only 7 runs and took 1 wicket. 13 required off last over and options for Dhoni were Harbhajan and Joginder Sharma.

Harbhajan who did not got his Yorkers right in 17th over and with Misbah to face the first ball, Dhoni decided to throw the ball to Joginder Sharma. Sharma had bowled 3 overs for 13 runs and 1 wicket till then. Sharma was nervous and bowled a wide. He ran again and this time Misbah hit him for six over long-off. 6 required off 4 and Pakistan were only one or two hits away. Joginder ran in and bowled an off-pace delivery which I trying to scoop over fine leg Misbah managed to hit under the throat of Sreesanth.

Whole India erupted as Misbah fell onto the ground. People still criticize him for the short but had it been executed there would have been statues of Misbah all over Pakistan. India players were dancing, with a new captain some new bowlers nobody gave them a chance but they came out victorious. Dhoni would have been taken into custody for giving an inexperienced bowler the last over. But he went with instincts and even after 13 years is still remembered for it. That day India were the first world T20 champions and started a golden period of Indian cricket.


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