Sub-Continent To Embrace Twenty20
Mahendra Dhoni will fly home to India ready for a hero's welcome on Tuesday after firmly establishing Twenty20 cricket as a game for the future on the fervent sub-continent.
The India captain flies home with the rest of his victorious team having secured an unlikely triumph in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 tournament having overcome several obstacles to beat arch-rivals Pakistan in Monday's final.
Before the start of the two-week tournament, India had played only one Twenty20 international as a team, they had arrived there with no preparation and they conducted their campaign without the advantage of a coach.
But they gelled as a team and beat Pakistan by five runs in yesterday's thrilling final at the Wanderers and Dhoni is now expecting an explosion of interest in the format as a result of their success.
"It will catch up in India because they love fours and sixes and excitement," said Dhoni. "There hasn't been that much of Twenty20 cricket in India so far.
"We've had a domestic circuit but not many people come to watch the domestic matches, but I'm sure it will catch up and be huge in India after this."
India reached a competitive but not daunting total of 157 for five after winning the toss with opener Gautam Gambhir hitting 75 off 54 balls, but Pakistan never recovered from losing four wickets inside the first nine overs and were dismissed for 152 with three balls remaining.
Dhoni stressed: "There was a determination among us. We were not expected to do well because we had not done well in the last World Cup and that was a key point.
"We also enjoyed this format of the game because nothing much was expected from us so we didn't have added pressure or added responsibility on anyone - the guys really enjoyed it and played it match by match."
He added: "Enjoying cricket is very important and that's what the side is doing. We have confidence in each other, we were backing in each other and they were enjoying each other's performance.
"If I made a 50, the whole team would be pleased and that's what we were doing in the dressing room. The way the boys have responded throughout the tournament was really pleasing. I never had too much trouble leading the team."
Disappointed Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik, whose side now turn their attentions to a home Test series against South Africa, said: "When we lost the toss, our plan was to keep India down to 150 or 160 so we were successful in our plan but unfortunately we lost too many early wickets.
"But reaching the final is still a great achievement for Pakistan cricket. When we started the tournament, we were not regarded as favourites but we still have gone a long way."