Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s young India team snatched the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship title after defeating arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs in a rousing final on Monday.
The Indians, restricted to 157-5 after electing to take first strike in good batting conditions, fought back to bowl out valiant Pakistan for 152 before a sell-out crowd of 32Ã‚Â 000 at the Wanderers in Johannesburg.
Pakistan appeared out for the count when they were reduced to 104-7 after 16 overs, but Misbah ul-Haq gave the Indians a scare with a late charge of 43 off 38 balls.
Misbah and his tail-end partners took 19 runs in the 18th over bowled by Shanthakumaran Sreesanth and seven runs in the 19th from Rudra Pratap Singh, leaving 13 to get off the final over.
Seamer Joginder Sharma bowled a wide off the first ball and was hammered for a six by Misbah with the second legitimate ball, but gave India victory with his next delivery as the batsman holed out to fine-leg.
Rudra Pratap and Irfan Pathan claimed three wickets each as Pakistan’s jinx of never having beaten India in a World Cup or world championship match continued.
Top Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan was at hand to witness India take home the winner’s purse of $490Ã‚Â 000, while Pakistan received no prize money for their efforts in the final.
It was a remarkable performance by the Indians, who had played just one Twenty20 international before the tournament began.
India’s innings was restricted by seamer Umar Gul who scalped three prize wickets — Yuvraj Singh, Dhoni and top scorer Gautam Gambhir.
Gambhir slammed 75 off 54 balls, studded with eight boundaries and two sixes, but none of the other batsmen settled in to play a long innings. The best partnership in the innings was between Gambhir and Yuvraj, who put on 63 for the third wicket.
India’s total was boosted by Rohit Sharma and Irfan Pathan, who plundered 27 runs in the final two overs. Sharma remained unbeaten on a 16-ball 30.
Pakistan’s chase of the victory target of eight runs an over was launched by Imran Nazir who smashed 33 off 14 balls, taking 21 runs in the second over sent down by Sreesanth.
But Pakistan lost three wickets by the sixth over as left-armer Rudra Pratap dismissed Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal in his first two overs and Nazir was run out by a direct throw from Robin Uthappa.
Pakistan took the total to 65-3 in the ninth over when three further wickets fell for 12 runs, two in one over from Irfan Pathan.
Batting mainstay Younis Khan made 24 when he gave a catch to mid-on off Joginder Sharma and Irfan removed captain Shoaib Malik and Shahid Afridi in the 12th over.
Malik on-drove Pathan to Rohit Sharma at mid-wicket and Afridi, expected to provide the late fireworks, was caught in the deep off the first ball he faced.
India went into the match without aggressive opener Virender Sehwaq, who was ruled out of the key match with a thigh strain sustained during Saturday’s semifinal against Australia in Durban.
Yousuf Pathan, elder brother of all-rounder Irfan Pathan who replaced Sehwag, made a dramatic start to his international career after being sent in to open the batting.
Pathan survived a run-out scare off the first ball of the match and smashed the fourth ball from Mohammad Asif over long-on for six. — AFP