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ICC World Twenty20 2007

ICC World Twenty20 final, Johannesburg:
India 157-5 (20 overs) bt Pakistan 152 (19.3 overs) by five runs

By Paresh Soni

India fought back superbly to become the first World Twenty20 champions
India fought back superbly to become the first World Twenty20 champions

India beat Pakistan in the World Twenty20 final by five runs to clinch their first major trophy since 1985.

They were up against it when Umar Gul (3-28) helped restrict them to 157-5, despite Gautam Gambhir's 75.

But RP Singh struck twice early on and Irfan Pathan took 3-16 as a succession of Pakistanis gave away their wickets.

Misbah-ul-Haq (43) rallied them with three sixes off Harbhajan Singh and another in the final over, but fell to Joginder Sharma to end an amazing game.

It brought a hugely entertaining tournament to a fitting climax, which was always likely - after all, the teams tied their group game.

There was a similar frenzied atmosphere when the latest instalment in their rich rivalry commenced at a packed Wanderers.


Gambhir was a figure of calm assurance, however, after debutant Yusuf Pathan and Robin Uthappa perished with mis-timed heaves during a frenetic opening.

He placed and timed the ball elegantly, particularly through the covers, in bringing up his fifty in 38 balls.

The left-hander put India on course for a formidable total, but Yuvraj Singh - the hero against England and Australia - never got going as Gul exerted control with his clever variations in pace and length.

Gul took a return catch after Yuvraj top-edged a pull and sent skipper Mahendra Dhoni's leg-stump flying as the scoring slowed dramatically between the 14th and 18th overs.

Umar Gul celebrates a wicket
Umar Gul pegged India back during an impressive spell

Gambhir quite literally hurt Gul's figures by smashing the ball into the scoreboard over the mid-wicket fence but Gul had the last word by having him snapped up at short fine-leg to become the leading wicket-taker in the tournament with 13.

Rohit Sharma collected successive fours off Yasir Arafat, while Mohammad Hafeez helped a swipe off Sohail Tanvir over the wide long-on boundary to take the score past 150.

But India still had a lot of work to do to clinch their first major silverware since the 1985 B&H Championship and 1983 World Cup final to deny their neighbours the chance to emulate their 1992 50-over triumph.

Their prospects looked brighter when Hafeez guided RP Singh's fifth ball to Robin Uthappa at slip and Kamran Akmal lost his off-stump to an inswinger from the left-arm paceman.

As long as Imran Nazir stayed at the crease the run rate was never likely to be an issue.

He battered two fours and two sixes off an atrocious first over from the erratic Sree Santh which cost 21 runs.

Younus Khan was nowhere near as convincing, although he managed to get bat on ball to collect successive leg-side fours off Santh to take the team past 50 in the sixth over.

The innings then capitulated from 52-2 to 77-6 as Dhoni's bowling changes took the pace off the ball.

Nazir, who went into the game with a groin problem and was refused a runner, was short of the crease when Uthappa's throw from mid-off hit the stumps.

RP Singh took three wickets as India fought back
RP Singh took three wickets as India fought back

Younus holed out to mid-on, while skipper Shoaib Malik and dangerman Shahid Afridi, who went first ball, tossed their wickets away with ambitious heaves off Irfan Pathan.

The seamer cleaned up Yasir Arafat to end a brief revival but Misbah swung off-spinner Harbhajan between cow corner and long-on for three thumping sixes, and Tanvir flicked the returning Santh for two more maximums to provide a massive twist in the tale.

Crucially, Santh knocked out the tail-ender's off-stump and RP Singh cleaned up Gul with his penultimate delivery.

The inexperienced Joginder Sharma was entrusted with the final over and began with a horrible wide and when Misbah battered another six down the ground the game looked up.

But Misbah's gamble of trying to loft the ball over short fine-leg backfired horribly and handed a stunning victory to India.

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