India-Pakistan showdowns were still not limited to only ICC events, or occasional Asia Cup encounters. India’s trip to Pakistan was still fresh in the memory and the humiliation in the third Test at the National Stadium in Karachi was a nightmare for every Indian cricket fan.
Exacting revenge was all they needed and it wasn’t a bad proposition that Pakistan were set for a return series towards the end of 2007. Meanwhile, this 20-over showdown in a format hitherto unseen was just a passing shower before the original storm came along. National broadcaster Doordarshan staying away from the tournament made it further difficult for the fans from the far reaches of the country to connect with. Let alone winning it, playing the tournament was the last on the list of priorities for the Indian cricket team.
For the generation growing up before that magic evening of September 24, 2007, life was like running on a treadmill. Of course, Sachin Tendulkar was dazzling the stage with unmatched grace, Rahul Dravid was batting with composure, and Anil Kumble was still bowling oppositions out as he’d always done in his career but the succeeding generation saw something that would go on to be a conceivable reality. It was the idea of fresh perspective and new outcomes that the Old India was too afraid to hug.
Dhoni manemania had started taking over the youth, Bollywood heroes were making way for cricketers in TV commercials and hoarding across the cities, and the idea of entrepreneurship started becoming the major talking point among youths. To keep pace, cricket needed something different to move away from the archaic oligarchy. The fight for relevance was more than ever.
T20Is were still in its nascent stage. But the idea of making the game further shorter made wonders. The real fillip came through when India defeated the arch-rivals in a never seen before bowl-out contest in the group stages. This heralded the birth of a new love - the T20 affair. The part-time bowlers, who took to bowl-out with their uncanny accuracy, and the six sixes by Yuvraj Singh off Stuart Broad quickly became a big part of the Indian cricket's folklore.
The best, however, was served for the last. An India-Pakistan game to cap off a newly-found format’s final, it couldn’t have been better. With anything but a mystical 13 needed off the last over, Dhoni handed the ball to Joginder Sharma - a to-be cop, and a bowler of Ishant Sharma circa 2011 ilk - and the country started muttering the expletives at the newly-appointed Indian skipper. “Hey MS, you couldn’t be that stupid!”
Misbah-ul-Haq stands there, looking around from midwicket to cover and glancing around the funny fieldset that the Indian skipper had set for him - an off-side dominated one in a T20 World Cup final’s deciding over. Joginder Sharma runs in and Misbah is ready to hit it over - well, wherever he would want to - except the position never changed. The ball goes through to MS and it is wide.
A good delivery later, Pakistan require 12 from five with a wicket remaining and Misbah, by then, had the idea of what Joginder wanted to do. On the next ball, Misbah shuffled across, his all three stumps visible, and smoked Joginder’s full-toss for six straight down the ground. Misbah, a phlegmatic and reluctant person, usually a personality cut from a different cloth as other Pakistani cricketers, walked towards the bowler with an uncharacteristic swagger and offered a fist bump to his partner Mohammad Asif. The heat increased. Another classic India-Pakistan in the making. Or was it?
Pakistan needed six runs from four balls. Misbah hadn’t hit a four by then but had four sixes to his name so far. It was his territory, Dhoni was calm but the stadium was panicking. Panicking so heavily that Karchi 2006’s extension to Jo’burg was well within the frightening sight. It was bound to hurt. Except something different happened. Misbah, who by then had the complete idea of Joginder and Dhoni’s plans, premeditated the future. THAT shot. Misbah missed the scoop.
As the ball was in the air, Ravi Shastri’s Adam’s apple came right out of his throat, his vocal chords literally tore up, half the country covered its face in their hands, some looked up, not at the ball but at the heavens with a desperate prayer on their lips, and Sreesanth caught the heaviest ever cricket ball on the field. The Wanderers came to a standstill for a moment before the whole of India let down the frustration and baggage of the 2007 World Cup. India had won a World Cup! Dhoni, India’s new found 'Hercules', handed his jersey away to a young fan and walked around bare-chested, swelling up with immense pride and joy, which perhaps no shirt could have contained.
It was also a moment that drowned a Pakistan cricket fan to another battle with perception, of seeing his team losing to their arch-nemesis in yet another world event, and Misbah-ul-Haq, antitheses of a typical Pakistani cricketer, was down on his knees. It was a moment that stays with you and makes you think. Misbah was left to rue the moment and that particular failed shot by a Pakistani added fresh blood to the lineage of Indian cricket and a whole new generation was inspired to take up the game.
12 years on, narratives have subtly undergone a change so as to further romanticise the journey of a team no one gave a chance to be world champions. But in the annals of history, the moment Misbah went down on his knees and missed that scoop would be remembered as one of cricket’s most iconic images - one that tells a lot of stories.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi