Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh recalled iconic moments from the 2007 T20 World Cup on the 15h anniversary of India’s maiden and to date only triumph at the world stage in the shortest format of the game. Notably, that was also the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup. India were led by MS Dhoni, who was captaining for the first time in a tournament as big as the World Cup but he showed no signs of nerves. In fact, made some terrific calls throughout the tournament that turned out to be match-changing ones.
Harbhajan recalled the big semi-final against Australia. India were defending a big total but thanks to a blistering innings by Matthew Hayden, Australia were right in the chase. They needed 30 runs in the last three overs when Dhoni had a difficult choice to make. His third seamer Joginder Sharma had gone for 31 runs in his 2 overs. That’s when Harbhajan put his hand up asked his skipper for the ball.
“I told Dhoni ‘give me the ball’. Australia still needed 30 runs in 3 overs. I bowled that over and got Michael Clarke out and helped us,” Harbhajan said on Star Sports.
The senior pro gave only 3 runs in that over which put Australia in a lot of pressure. India, in the end, won that match by 15 runs to advance to the final.
“It did not feel to us that MS Dhoni was our skipper till he lifted the trophy. It was so because everyone was contributing their suggestions as to what should be done during a certain stage in a game. He was very open to it and would let us go ahead with whatever we thought was best,” added Harbhajan.
He also recalled the strategy during the iconic bowl-out that took place to decide the winner of the Group D clash between India and Pakistan, which ended in a tie with both teams scoring 141 runs each.
“The run-ups of players involved in bowl-out were of three to four steps. It was so because they could have lost their balance after running from a great distance,” he said.
Even wicketkeeper-batter Dinesh Karthik recalled his first impressions of MS Dhoni.
“He was en route of becoming captain back then. He was the Vice Captain during the 2007 ODI World Cup and series against England and various other places. From day 1, he had his own ways of doing things. There was not really much difference between him as a captain and as a player,” said Karthik.
In the final, India elected to bat first after winning the toss. They put up 157/5 in their 20 overs. Gautam Gambhir’s 75 off 54 balls and Rohit Sharma’s hard-hitting cameo of 30* off 16 balls helped Men in Blue reach a solid score for an ICC final for those days. Pacer Umar Gul (3/26) did not let Team India reach a big score and took wickets at crucial phases.
Chasing 158, Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals. RP Singh (3/26) and Irfan (3/16) kept their arch-rivals run flow in check. Knocks from Imran Nazir (33), Younis Khan (24) were solid, but Pakistan was left struggling at 6/77. Misbah-ul-Haq (43) then tried to win it for Pakistan, but fell short by five runs after a scoop attempt on delivery by Joginder Sharma (2/20) was caught by S Sreesanth, sending millions into ecstasy. Pakistan were bundled out for 152 runs.