The Indian cricket Board assembled a team of youngsters and chose a very young Mahendra Singh Dhoni to lead the pack.
Little did anyone know that this inaugural tournament would change cricket forever.
Here we look at the top five performances by Team India at the T20 World Cup over the years:
2007 – India vs Pakistan at Kingsmead, Durban: India won via a bowl out
Any India-Pakistan encounter is bound to raise interest and give fans goosebumps around the world. This match, on September 14, was effectively India’s first in the tournament as their previous match against Scotland was washed out after the toss.
Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik won the toss and asked India to bat first. Mohammad Asif took 4 wickets, but riding on Robin Uthappa’s half-century and Dhoni’s 33, India ended up with a respectable 141/9.
Bowling the penultimate over, Ajit Agarkar conceded 17 runs with Misbah-ul-Haq leading the Pakistan run chase. With 12 needed from 6 balls, Sreesanth was handed the ball. Misbah hit two fours off the second and fourth deliveries. It all boiled down to just one run needed off two balls. Misbah failed to connect the penultimate delivery. With one run needed off the last ball, Misbah hit towards the covers and scampered for the run but failed to beat Yuvraj Singh‘s throw into the hands of Sreesanth who whipped off the bails in a flash to run out Misbah. The tied match was then decided by a bowl out.
It was here that Dhoni’s cricketing acumen came to the fore in his choice of bowlers. He chose Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Uthappa for the bowl out. Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi were chosen for Pakistan.
Sehwag, Harbhajan and Uthappa all hit the stumps whereas Arafat, Gul and Afridi all missed. India won the bowl out 3-0 and maintained their all-win record in World Cups against Pakistan. Interestingly, Team India had practised bowl outs, keeping just such an eventuality in mind.
2007 – India vs England at Kingsmead, Durban: India won by 18 runs
They say one should never wake a sleeping lion. The same holds true for some players. Sometimes sledging them is counterproductive and it awakes the fierce competitor in them. The end result sometimes is something which the opposition and the whole world remembers forever.
The same happened when India and England clashed for the first time in a T20 international on September 19, 2007 at Kingsmead in Durban. It’s a date etched in cricketing history, when Yuvraj Singh smashed Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over in the maiden edition of the ICC World Twenty20. The feat made him, just the second man, at that time, to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket.
Batting first, India had got off to a fiery start with Gautam Gambhir (58) and Virender Sehwag (68) putting up a 136-run opening stand. But India then lost three wickets in three overs and were 155/3 when Yuvraj walked out to join his captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni at the crease in the 17th over.
The 18th over of the Indian innings was bowled by Andrew Flintoff and he was hit for two successive boundaries by Yuvraj. Going back to his fielding position after his over, Flintoff said something to Yuvraj which clearly incensed the Indian left-hander. More than a few words were exchanged between the two and the umpire had to intervene to cool things down.
But it was a very young Stuart Broad who had to bear the brunt of Yuvraj’s wrath. The first ball of the 19th over was hit between long-on and mid-wicket into the crowd, the second was flicked over the backward square leg fence, the third found the middle off the bat and went flying over the extra cover boundary.
A visibly shaken-up Broad then switched over to round the wicket and bowled a juicy wide full toss which was clobbered by Yuvraj over the backward point fence. Yuvraj went down on one knee and nonchalantly slammed the fifth ball over the mid-wicket fence and the last delivery of the over was sent flying over wide mid-on into the delirious crowd.
Thanks to the onslaught, Yuvraj reached his fifty off just 12 balls – the fastest T20 fifty – a world record that still stands in his name. Yuvraj also became the first batsman to hit six sixes in T20 cricket, second in international cricket (after Herschelle Gibbs) and fourth in senior level cricket (after Garry Sobers and Ravi Shastri in domestic games).
Yuvraj hit another six off Flintoff in the next over before being dismissed for 58 off just 16 balls – a knock that was studded with 3 fours and 7 sixes. India went on to win the match by 18 runs and Yuvraj of course was adjudged the Man of the Match.
2007 Final – India vs Pakistan at Kingsmead, Durban: India won by five runs
The date of September 24, 2007 is etched in Indian cricket history in gold. On that day, at The Wanderers in Johannesburg, India beat Pakistan by five runs to win the inaugural ICC World Twenty20. Gautam Gambhir was the star with the bat for India, hitting 75 off 54 balls to get the total to 157/5 against a spirited Pakistan performance in the field, but Rohit Sharma‘s unbeaten 16-ball 30 proved to be a crucial cameo.
RP Singh struck early with the wickets of Mohammad Hafeez and Kamran Akmal, and Irfan Pathan was excellent with figures of 3/16 in his quota as India applied the squeeze. Once again it was Misbah-ul-Haq who was left with the task of taking Pakistan to an improbable win, and with 54 needed from 24 balls with three wickets in hand he almost did. Almost. After hitting Harbhajan Singh for three sixes in the 17th over, Misbah appeared at his unflappable best until the final over.
After much thinking, MS Dhoni put faith in Joginder Sharma for the last six balls, from which Pakistan required 13 runs. The first ball was a wide; the second a full toss which Misbah put away for six. The Pakistan fans at the ground were jubilant, the Indian supporters crestfallen. That’s when Misbah walked across his stumps to try and scoop Joginder to fine leg, only to miscue the shot and find Sreesanth lurking at short fine leg. The second Sreesanth took the catch, The Wanderers exploded.
Irfan, who scalped three wickets, was adjudged Man of the Match. Joginder never played another match for India.
2016 – India vs Australia at Mohali: India won by 6 wickets
Virat Kohli has played innumerable match-winning knocks in his glittering career so far and this unbeaten 82 against Australia ranks right up there. The Mohali crowd on March 27 witnessed a run-fest, as Australia, batting first, notched up 160/6 off their 20 overs.
India were 94/4 in 14 overs when Dhoni walked out to join Kohli (35*) at the crease. Everyone expected Dhoni to go ballistic with the bat, but the then Indian captain played second fiddle to Kohli that day, who looked like he was batting ‘in the zone’. So focused was he on the job at hand, that when he reached his half-century in the 17th over, Kohli didn’t even raise his bat. What was remarkable during that unbeaten partnership between the two was their incredible understanding while running between the wickets. Quick singles were taken and singles were converted into twos at an incredible pace.
With 39 runs needed off the last three overs, Kohli chose to target James Faulkner and smashed the Aussie for two fours and a six off the first three deliveries. No shot looked impossible for Kohli that day, he was pulling the short-pitched deliveries off the front foot in front of square, he was digging out yorkers and by just opening the face of the bat was guiding them past the backward point fence, he was stepping out of the crease and hitting short of length deliveries through the line which such perfect timing that the ball was sailing over the fence.
With 20 needed off the last two overs, Kohli slammed Nathan Coulter-Nile for four boundaries to snatch the match from Australia. Dhoni (18*) hit the winning runs off the last over by Faulkner amidst the crowd chanting Kohli’s name who had just toyed with the Aussie bowling in an exhibition of a batting masterclass studded with 2 sixes and 9 fours in a 51-ball 82*.
2016 – India vs Bangladesh at Bengaluru: India won by 1 run
Bangladesh had nearly won this one till Mahendra Singh Dhoni outsmarted and outran them. Chasing a 147-run target, Bangladesh were well on course in their World T20 Group 2 clash at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on March 23. It boiled down to the last over and Hardik Pandya was entrusted with the responsibility of defending 10 runs. Bangladesh were 136-6 after 19 overs and needed eleven runs to win the match.
Mahmudullah scored a single off the first ball to give Mushfiqur Rahim the strike, who hit the next two deliveries for boundaries and even pumped his fists in celebration after the second boundary. But Rahim went for the glorious shot off the next ball and was caught at deep mid-wicket by Shikhar Dhawan. With two runs needed off two balls, Mahmudullah came on strike as the batsmen had crossed while the ball was in the air. Dhoni replaced Dhawan with India’s best fielder Ravindra Jadeja at deep mid-wicket. And Mahmudullah, as if on cue, hit the next delivery over deep mid-wicket, Jadeja ran in and took a brilliant diving catch.
With two runs needed off the last ball, Bangladesh had new batsmen Shuvagata Hom and Mustafizur Rahman in the middle. With Shuvagata on strike, Dhoni removed the glove off his right hand, just in case. Pandya bowled a short ball outside off but Shuvagata failed to connect, Dhoni collected the ball and instead of throwing, ran towards the stumps, Mustafizur ran from the non-striker’s hand. But Mustafizur could not outrun Dhoni and fell short of the crease as Dhoni hit the stumps with the ball in his right hand to keep India’s campaign alive in the tournament with a one-run victory.