Journey of India to the 2007 T20 World Cup Win

The 2007 T20 World Cup holds a special place in any Indian cricket fan’s heart and why not? A young Indian team with a young captain defied all expectations and won the tournament in grand style. It was a tournament which didn’t just announce Dhoni’s arrival as a captain but it was a tournament which saw the dynamics of the Indian cricket change forever.

It is worth mentioning that the start to the year 2007 was chaotic for India. The 2007 ODI World Cup had commenced from 13 March and Rahul Dravid-led Indian side had a dismal campaign. In the first-ever match, they lost to Bangladesh by 5 wickets and a loss to Sri Lanka meant that they finished third in their group. India, unfortunately, didn’t even make it to the Super 8 stage.

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India decided to choose a new captain. The team had numerous experienced names compared to a 26-year-old Dhoni but the team still put faith in the gamble of picking Mahi as a captain with credits to a recommendation from Sachin Tendulkar. Now a couple of months later, it was time for the 2007 T20 World Cup. An Indian side which just had a dismal campaign in the ODI World Cup coupled with a young team and their transition to a young captain meant that not much was expected from the Men in Blue.

Let’s talk about the squad first. Legendary names like Sachin, Dravid and Ganguly had opted out of the tournament. None of the players in the squad had an age of above 30 and the oldest was Ajit Agarkar aged 29. The squad was filled with young blood and in fact, notable names like Piyush Chawla, Joginder Sharma, Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan, Rohit Sharma, RP Singh, Sreesanth and Robin Uthappa were all below 25. Another thing to be noted is that players like Rohit Sharma, Yusuf Pathan and Joginder Sharm hadn’t even made their T20I debut!

The first match against Scotland was abandoned due to rain and the first match India played in the tournament was against their arch-rivals, Pakistan and what a match it turned out to be! Robin Uthappa scored a half-century but Mohammad Asif’s 4 wicket haul restricted India to 141/9 in 20 overs. At one point of time, Pakistan was reeling at 47/4 but Misbah-ul-Haq scored a half-century coming at number 6 and the match was tied! Pakistan finished with 141/7 which meant the result of the match was going to be decided on bowl-outs.

We used to begin or end our practices with the bowl-outs. It was the first time such a thing was going to be used. while it used to be fun, we decided that the players who hit the stumps the most number of times in the net sessions will be used in the bowl-outs when the situation arises. We did not pick our regular bowlers but we picked those who gave us the best results. But we were prepared for it.

MS Dhoni

In a bowl out, five players from each team would take attempts to hit the stump 22 yards away and the team with the most hits win!

Sehwag? Hit the stumps! Arafat? Missed! The score became 1-0 in India’s favour. Harbhajan Singh? Done! Umar Gul? Missed! 2-0! Robin Uthappa? Done! Now it was a do or die situation for Pakistan but Afridi? Missed! 3-0! India won the match in the bowl-outs! What a terrific ending to the match! India finished on top of the group and progressed to the Super 8 stage.

In the next match, India was pitted against New Zealand. Brendon McCullum, McMillan and Jacob Oram all scored 30+ and NZ posted a target of 191 runs for India. A fun fact regarding NZ’s innings was that four of its batsmen were run out. India had a good start with Gambhir scoring a half-century and Sehwag scoring 40 but things spiralled down quickly from 76/1 to 163/9 and at the end, India managed to score only 180 and lost the match by 10 runs.

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The next match saw the men in blue play against England. It was the match where a to-be-5-times-IPL-winner Rohit Sharma and a to-be-hero Joginder Sharma made their T20I debut. India batted first and it was a wonderful performance after that. The duo of Gambhir and Sehwag scored half-centuries each and brought up a 100+ run stand but the main highlight of the match was something else!

Yuvraj Singh came at number 5 and hit Flintoff for some boundaries. Flintoff and Yuvraj got into a verbal confrontation after that.

I will cut your throat off

Flintoff to Yuvraj

You see this bat in my hand. Do you know where I am gonna hit you with this bat?

Yuvraj to Flintoff

Yuvraj Singh was all pumped up after the confrontation and what that resulted in?

Over cow corner, SIX! Beyond backward square leg, SIX! Over extra cover, SIX! Beyond the backward point, SIX! Down on one knee, SIX! Over mid-on, SIX! Six sixes in an over! Fastest T20 fifty, off just 12 balls! Flintoff would’ve regretted it big time and a young Stuart Broad had to face the consequences! BCCI later announced a 1 crore bonus to Yuvraj Singh for this achievement.

Flintoff might’ve got out Yuvraj in the next over but the damage was done and India put up 218 runs on board. England did give a fight but they fell short by 18 runs and India won that match and undoubtedly, Yuvraj Singh was the Man of the Match.

India’s next challenge was the host nation, South Africa. India was deep in troubles with the score being 61/4 but Rohit Sharma scored a handsome half-century coming at number 5 and was supported well by the skipper Dhoni who scored 45(33). India scored 153/5 in 20 overs. The Proteas had a dismal start as they lost 5 wickets within a span of six overs. Only Mark Boucher and Albie Morkel managed to go into the double digits but it wasn’t enough as they reached only 116. RP Singh took 4 wickets in the match and India won by 37 runs.

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Three out of the four teams- India, South Africa and New Zealand, finished with four points but the best net run rate amongst all three ensured that India made it to the knockout stage. It was time for the semi-finals and it would be India’s biggest challenge so far in the tournament- the 2007 ODI World Cup Champions, Australia.

India batted first. India lost 2 wickets within 8 overs. It was Yuvraj Singh who came at number 4 and there was no looking back. Yuvraj was in red hot form with his bat and was breathing fire. At a strike-rate of 233.33, Yuvraj scored a fantastic 70 runs off just 30 balls which included 10 boundaries.

Australia was set a target of 189 runs. 40+ scores from Hayden and Symonds brought hope of a win for the Aussies but it wasn’t enough. Australia needed 22 runs in the final over but Joginder Sharma didn’t give any chances to the Aussies as he went on to take two wickets in the final over and conceded only 6 runs! India conquered Australia and won the match by 15 runs! India was into the finals!

Who would’ve imagined that a team who had just failed to make it to the Super-8 stage of the ODI World Cup would go on to the finals of the first-ever T20 World Cup!

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Adrenaline was at an all-time high because it wasn’t just a normal final for India. It was a final where they had to compete against their rivals for the trophy, Pakistan and an India VS Pakistan clash has all the ingredients to be an exciting one and so was this one!

It was the game where Yusuf Pathan made his debut. India batted first and Gambhir stepped up when needed and scored a brilliant knock of 75(54) but he got little support from the other side. An explosive knock of 30*(16) from Rohit Sharma came at the end and India had posted a total of 157 runs.

Pakistan had a dismal start as they lost their first wicket in the very first over and second in the 3rd over. The score was 65/4 when Misbah arrived. The score soon became 77/6 in 11.4 overs and Pakistan was neck-deep in troubles but Misbah stepped up in a pressure crunch situation. 19 runs from the 17th over and 15 runs from the 18th over meant that Pakistan started to come close and in the end, it was 13 needed off 6 balls for Pakistan. A settled Misbah-Ul-Haq but Pakistan had already lost 9 wickets. So while Pakistan needed a doable 13 runs in the final over, India needed just one wicket to wrap up the match.

Unfortunately for MSD, bowlers like RP Singh, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan had already bowled their full quota of overs and now he had to choose between Yusuf Pathan, Harbhajan Singh, who had conceded 36 runs in 3 overs, or Joginder Sharma who had bowled brilliantly in the final over against Australia and had taken the wicket of Younis Khan in the match. Joginder Sharma it was!

19.1- WIDE! Bad start from Joginder Sharma. 12 runs off 6 balls

19.1- Misbah missed! Dot ball! 12 runs off 5 balls

19.2- Full toss and Misbah hit it down the ground for a…SIX! Oh boy! The equation had reduced drastically and is now just 6 runs off 4 balls.

19.3- Joginder bowled a full-length ball on the stumps and Misbah tried to make it fancy here and went for a scoop shot and the ball was up in the air…and into the safe hands of Sreesanth! OOOOUUUUTTTT! All out! India won! INDIA ARE THE CHAMPIONS of the 2007 T20 World Cup!

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-A team which had failed to make it to the Super 8 stage in the ODI World Cup same year…

-A team which had just appointed a new and young captain…

-A team who no players above the age of 30 and had 9 players in the squad below the age of 25…

…And yet amidst all the roadblocks, India defied all expectations and became the champions of the 2007 T20 World Cup held in South Africa! What a day for Indian cricket!

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Gautam Gambhir finished as India’s highest run-scorer with 227 runs at an average of 37.83 which included 3 half-centuries. RP Singh boasted of the most wickets from India with 12 wickets at an economy of just 6.33.

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