No one quite knew what to expect in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. The tournament was being held in South Africa, India and Pakistan were knocked out of the Cricket World Cup in the group stage earlier that year and T20, as a format, was in its nascent stage.
India were being led by a young man with long hair in MS Dhoni, with seniors like Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid opting out of the tournament. Dhoni's boys stunned everybody by not just reaching the finals but also winning it.
The title-clash in Johannesburg was between arch-rivals India and Pakistan and the Dhoni-led team won by keeping their nerves in a tense final-over finish. Rudra Pratap Singh, the left-arm seamer, who was one of the stars of the finals returning three wickets for 26 runs, re-lives the clash.
Winning the big moments...
We had a process-oriented set-up. That’s what we were trained to do. We were alert to the big moments and knew how to respond... when to bowl defensively and when to attack.
The thought-process before stepping out to defend 157 against Pakistan, not a big total even those days
We knew we had to get early wickets, else we would lose. I focused on getting the breakthroughs. The conditions induced swing, and that definitely helped.
When Imran Nazir (14-ball 33) was going berserk...
He struck just a couple of good shots against me. Bowlers are bound to get hit in this format.
Thoughts when Misbah-ul-Haq almost took the game away from India
In T20, teams can stage a comeback, that’s how it goes. We knew it wasn’t over till we got the last wicket. Of course, we always had our noses in front. And not once were we predictable. We used bouncers, yorkers... everything in our repertoire. Basically, we kept attacking.
On bowling full
We didn’t have too much exposure to this format before the World Cup. It was essential to make our practice sessions count. We trained ourselves to bowl full on the base of the sticks so as not to give batters the leeway to hit through the line.
Now, of course, players have evolved and T20 has changed. We see so many variations like the wide yorker and the slower bouncer. Back then, it was all about bowling tight.
When Misbah scooped that shot over short fine-leg...
I was the closest to the catch since I was standing next to the square-leg umpire. I sensed he (Misbah) had mistimed it. I checked my movement. First, I wanted to be sure that S Sreesanth would go for the catch. Once he positioned himself, I was confident he would take it. It all happened in a fraction of seconds. That day was bound to be ours.
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