September 14, 2007: Why This India-Pakistan Encounter Remains Special?

Exactly 14 years ago on this day, something new and spectacular happened between India and Pakistan cricket teams, they faced off for the first time in an official T-20 match. The group match of the inaugural T-20 World Cup in 2007 was held at Durban, South Africa, and it turned out to be a humdinger. Before getting into the details of the match, let us touch upon an interesting backstory regarding the first-ever T-20 World Cup. When the ICC mooted the proposal of holding a T-20 World Cup, the BCCI vehemently opposed the same due to a lack of awareness regarding the new format. However, in a voting process, the T-20 format won hands down as other boards supported the initiative and BCCI had no option but to take part in the tournament. Interestingly, the same cricket board that opposed the T-20 World Cup later on designed a cash-minting T-20 tournament called the IPL, at the altar of which everything gets sacrificed. That is the world’s richest cricket board for you. Coming back to the actual topic, let us relive some of the unforgettable moments in the T-20 match between India and Pakistan. 

A Somewhat New-look Team 

The Indian squad that featured in the inaugural T-20 World Cup was relatively new, apart from few regulars such as Sehwag, Gambhir, Dhoni, Uthappa etc. This happened to be the first match that Dhoni played as the captain of the team, the then regular skipper Rahul Dravid made it clear that he along with Sachin and Saurav should not be considered for the format purely meant for youngsters. Hence, India had a young team led by “the boy from the Jharkhand” that eventually won the world cup. Other notable newcomers were Rohit Sharma, Joginder Sharma, Yousuf Pathan etc. 

Batting Failures 

As the format was relatively new, both the teams had problems adjusting to the same. So, when India batted first they were not able to put up a fighting total as they ended up with 141/9, thanks largely to the 50 by Robin Uthappa and 33 by MSD. In reply, Pakistan were not any better as they found themselves in the wood at 83/5 halfway down the stage. But, Misbah ul Haq’s valiant 53 ensured that Pakistan did not lose to India without a fight. So, the match ended up in a tie and reached an interesting stage. 

Bowl-Out Decider 

For this T-20 championship, the bowl-out was the option used to end the stalemate which was later on replaced with the Super Over. So, with the scores tied at 141, both the teams were given 5 chances to hit the stump through their bowlers. For India, everyone came to the party as Sehwag, Uthappa, Harbhajan all were bang on the money. Unfortunately for Pakistan, nobody; Afridi, Yasar Arafat, Umar Gul; hit the stumps with the ball and the match was won in an awkward but convincing manner by India in the end. 

The match is still etched in everyone’s memories for all these interesting aspects and, of course, the tension and anxiety involved in the encounter. This has to be one of the most thrilling matches to be played between India and Pakistan. Coincidentally, the final was also played between the two teams and even that turned out to be a wholesome entertainer. However, we are reserving the story about the final for another day. For now, let us savour these golden moments of the group match one more time. 

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