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India defied all Twenty20 theories

India defied all preconceived theories about cricket's newest format by relying on their natural skills to beat Pakistan by five runs to win the inaugural ICC World Twenty20.

The last of the world's leading countries to embrace Twenty20 cricket - they had only played one match before the start of the tournament - India chose a young and energetic side for the two-week event.

Their decision to leave behind players like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid paid dividends, however, when their next generation completed a last-over victory over arch-rivals Pakistan at the Wanderers.

Marginal underdogs before the start, their chance appeared to have gone when they were limited to 157 for five at a ground which has three 200-plus totals during the tournament.

But a combination of accurate bowling, explosive fielding and a sub-standard batting display from Pakistan ensured their biggest rivals were dismissed for 152 in reply.

Their outstanding achievement was all the more remarkable for the fact that India chose to throw in off-spinning all-rounder Yusuf Pathan for his debut after reliable opener Virender Sehwag was ruled out with groin problems.

They soon reaped the rewards as the 24-year-old half-brother of fellow all-rounder Irfan Pathan launched Mohammad Asif for six down the ground in the opening over for his first scoring shot in international cricket.

Yusuf fell in the third over after hitting a promising 15 off eight balls and set the tone for the majority of India's top order with none of them able to contribute significant scores to the total.

It was left to opener Gautam Gambhir to provide nearly half of India's runs by scoring a superb 75 off 54 balls, which included eight fours and two sixes, and at least guided his side to a competitive total.

India's only significant stand was between Gambhir and Yuvraj Singh, who struggled to find the fluency which helped him play match-winning innings against England and Australia and singled him out as the biggest threat to Pakistan's hopes of victory.

Having hit 12 sixes in the tournament, this time Yuvraj struggled throughout and contributed only 14 to a 63-run stand off only 48 balls before offering a return catch to Umar Gul.

That was the first of three wickets for Gul, who struck in his next over to demolish Mahendra Dhoni's stumps two balls after unsettling him with a waist-high beamer.

Gul, who finished with impressive figures of three for 28, also removed Gambhir in his final over when he reverse-swept to Asif at short fine leg.

Pakistan's reply was undermined from the start with left-arm seamer Rudra Pratap Singh striking twice in his first two overs to leave them reeling at 26 for two.

Imran Nazir reacted to the early setbacks by hitting seamer Shanthakumaran Sreesanth for 21 in his first over, but was brilliantly run out from mid-on by Robin Uthappa throwing down the stumps at the batsman's end as Pakistan attempted a quick single.

With Younis Khan also chipping seamer Joginder Sharma to mid-on in the ninth over, Pakistan had slumped to 65 for four and the momentum appeared to have turned towards India.

It was then that Dhoni called Irfan Pathan into the attack and he delivered a match-winning spell by claiming three for 16 in his four consecutive overs which all but ensured India would lift the trophy.

Perhaps fortunate with his first dismissal, which Shoaib Malik pulled straight to midwicket, his intelligent change of pace claimed Shahid Afridi first ball when he was caught in the deep while Yasir Arafat was bowled attempting a big heave.

But just as India looked on course for victory, Misbah Ul-Haq launched a late onslaught which turned the tide back towards Pakistan needing 13 off the final over of the tournament from Joginder Sharma.

He bowled a wide with the first delivery and two balls later Misbah came down the wicket to launch him back over his head for six to leave Pakistan needing only six off the final three balls.

Attempting to scoop the next ball from outside off-stump, however, he was caught by Sreesanth at short fine leg to depart for 43 off 38 balls, which included four sixes.

source - thisislondon.co.uk
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