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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Close contest strengthens future of Twenty20

India has defeated Pakistan by 5 runs at Johannesburg in the final of the inaugural world Twenty20 Championship.

I thought that India didn't make enough runs against generally hostile Pakistan bowling, though passing 150, from a not too difficult chance which Mohammad Hafeez not only fluffed but knocked over the boundary for 6, gave them something to bowl at on the slowish pitch.

Pakistan got off to a rollercoaster start: a wicket and 4 runs from the first probing R P Singh over, followed by a loose one by Sreesanth which conceded 21; Singh again took a wicket in his second; and then, surprisingly, a Sreesanth maiden. 4/31 from 4 overs set the pattern for the innings: each time as Pakistan seemed to pull ahead and position themselves for a final onslaught, they lost another wicket. 4/65 from 9 overs needed the middle order to fire, but Shoab Malik and Shahid Afridi were both dismissed by Irfan Pathan in the same over (6/77 from 11.4 overs). The 7th wicket fell, again to Pathan senior (whose brother made his international debut in the game). Misbah-ul-Haq launched an assault on Harbajan Singh but the errant Sreesanth took a wicket with his last ball (4 - 1 - 44 - 1!) . 8/138 from 18 overs became 9/141 from 19.5 overs.

An edged 4 from the final ball left 13 required from the last over. Joginder Sharma, not the best of the Indian attack, began with a wide: 12 required from 6b . Misbah-ul-Haq played and missed the next ball but hit the following one for six: now 6 required from 4 balls. For the first time in several overs Pakistan looked the likelier to win. But it wasn't to be as Misbah (43/38b) hit the next delivery to Sreesanth.

An enthralling game and one which will, despite
the misgivings of cricket purists such as Gideon Haigh writing in today's Australian (and before the final was played), entrench Twenty20 even further in the international cricket calendar. Much as I enjoyed the final (and most of the other games I've seen), I'm not sure that I want it to diminish the amount of test cricket played between the stronger countries. But given the intense India - Pakistan rivalry and control of modern cricket, to which Haigh refers in his article (not to mention Australia's relatively modest performance) this is unlikely to happen.

Cricinfo's match package is here . The site also has a summary of newspaper comments (including Haigh's) from around the world.

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