Indian Cricket, Under MS Dhoni, Experienced a Renaissance in 2007 ICC World Twenty20
India's win in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in 2007 brought about a revolution that changed the nature of the game. MS Dhoni would go on to become Captain Excellence
The inaugural edition of the World Twenty20 in 2007 was a turning point in the history of cricket. It resulted in a renaissance for one cricketing powerhouse, which in turn produced a revolution that changed the game. India's success in the 2007 tournament in South Africa produced superstars who would form the core and give the team greater glory in the future. It marked the coming of age for Indian cricket.
India Go Through the Dark Ages
Before the ICC World Twenty20 was launched in July 2007, Indian cricket was in the midst of the Dark Ages. The dressing room atmosphere was fractured with reports of mistrust between coach Greg Chappell and some senior players, most notably Sourav Ganguly. The problems in the dressing room distracted the team and it led to its calamitous first-round exit from the 2007 50-over World Cup after losses to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. (World T20: Top-10 Knocks)
The first-round loss made the Indian cricket fan hurt, angry and disillusioned. Nothing was making them happy. Despite the exit of Chappell in April 2007, the mood remained sombre. Even a Test series win over England in their own den after 21 years did not give them a sense of pride. For the Indian fan and the team, the only way they could get over the trauma was a good performance in a major ICC tournament.
India: Fresh Faces, Fresh Starts
A fresh format resulted in a total overhaul. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly all opted out. MS Dhoni was selected to lead India. The team had played only one Twenty20 international which was against South Africa in 2006 in Johannesburg which they won by six wickets. The fans had not yet warmed up to the new format. The odds of India doing well in the tournament were low. They were placed in Group D, along with Pakistan and Scotland. (Five Men Who Have Taken World T20 By Storm)
A Marquee Match to Kick off a Roller-Coaster Ride
After a wash-out against Scotland, India were pitted in a must-win game against Pakistan in Kingsmead, Durban. After Mohammad Asif ran through the Indian batting with figures of 4/18 in four overs, it took a 39-ball fifty from Robin Uthappa to get them to 141/9. Pakistan were pegged back with regular wickets but Misbah-ul-Haq kept them in the hunt with a gritty knock. (World Twenty20: Yuvraj's Six Sixes in an Over, Lee's Hattrick Among Top 10 Moments)
In the final over bowled by Sreesanth, Misbah blasted two fours to notch up a fifty and level the scores. However, in dramatic circumstances, Misbah failed to score off the last two balls and India salvaged a tie, which they eventually went on to win, thanks to a bowl-out. The tournament had started off in grand style for India.
Yuvraj Singh's World Record and a Brave New India
In the knock-outs, India got off to a bad start when they lost a close match to New Zealand. However, they got their campaign kicking in the right time thanks to a special knock from Yuvraj Singh. India and in particular Yuvraj, will never forget September 19 as he became the first batsmen and second overall in international cricket to hit six sixes in an over. The unlucky bowler was Stuart Broad and Yuvraj smashed a fifty in just 12 balls, a world record. (Will IPL Exposure Hurt India in World T20?)
India carried their victory over England in a crunch game against South Africa. In that match, India displayed some fearless cricket with Rohit Sharma stroking a crucial fifty to help India reach 153/5. On the big stage, South Africa choked and they exited the tournament with a 37-run loss.
In the semi-final against Australia, Yuvraj delivered another telling knock. He blasted 70 off 30 balls, including a 126-metre six off Brett Lee. He was ably supported by Dhoni's 18-ball 36 as India finished on 188/5.
Buoyed by the batting, Sreesanth bowled with pace and aggression to dismiss Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden. Backed up by Harbhajan Singh, Irfan Pathan and aggressive fielding, India pulled off a magnificent 15-run win to halt the Australian juggernaut and march into the finals. People started to dream.
The Mother of All Battles
The 2007 World Twenty20 had managed what other ICC tournaments had failed. A dream final between India and Pakistan. Johannesburg was packed and India batted first. Gautam Gambhir's 75 laid the base for India's 157/5. In response, Pakistan were tottering at 77/6. However, there would be twists galore in this drama.
Misbah, who was in tremendous form, gave Pakistan hope with some calculated hitting. By the end of the 19th over, Pakistan needed 13 runs with one wicket remaining.
Dhoni gave the final over to Joginder Sharma, a relative unknown. He started off with a wide but came back well with a dot ball. On the second legitimate delivery, Joginder delivered a full toss and Misbah deposited it over long-off for a six. The equation boiled down to six off four balls.
On the third delivery, Joginder bowled a slow, length delivery outside off, Misbah moved to the off side and looked to scoop it over short fine leg. However, he mistimed it and the ball looped to Sreesanth who completed the catch and help India to a five-run win.
India had bagged a major ICC trophy and cricket once again became the toast of the nation.
India's win Brings about a Revolution
Dhoni's victory brought about the end of the Dark Ages in Indian cricket and ushered a renaissance. The confidence of the team came back to life. This tournament produced superstars who had the belief that they could win in all conditions. They produced a brand of fearless cricket which combined aggression and flair, best epitomised by Yuvraj's emergence as a match-winner.
India's victory in the 2007 World Twenty20 brought about a revolution in world cricket. It laid the foundation for the Indian Premier League. The success of India in the World Twenty20, combined with the success of IPL, led to creation of leagues all over the world, be it the Caribbean Premier League, The Ram Slam Twenty20 in South Africa or the Big Bash League in Australia.
Dhoni would go on and achieve greater success in the coming years. The World No.1 ranking in Tests, the ICC World Cup in 2011 at home, the 2013 Champions Trophy all were snapped up by India. However, the seeds of India's success were laid nine years ago on September 24 when they defeated their arch-rivals, Pakistan.