Twenty20 cricket was designed for the television. Three and a half hours of action-packed entertainment and thrill to keep you on the edge of your couch on Sunday evenings. The format is perfect for it; many can't sit and watch an ODI and instead just catch the slog overs to save time and get the maximum out of the game. T20 cricket has rebranded the concept of slog overs.
The ICC World T20 raises the stakes of the 20-over game even more and adds more fuel to the fire of T20. Naturally, in a format where anyone can win on a given day, the teams go all out in the T20 World Cup. And so the World T20 has thrown some thrilling encounters which still remain in our memories. Those are the matches we think about and say, "what a game!"
With the ICC World T20 frenzy back to provide us with die-hard action, we take a look at some of the best World T20 clashes of the yore that left us on the brink of a heart-attack.
India vs Pakistan, 2007 (The final)
No Indian cricket fan, or for that matter Pakistani cricket fan, can forget this one even if they try. The historic India vs Pakistan 2007 World T20 final is etched in the their memories and in the narrative of cricket forever. Consider the weight of the occasion: It's India vs Pakistan — even friendly games between the bickering neighbors assume paramount importance and are hardly friendly at all. It's the first World T20. It's the final.
There's hardly any need to retell the story of the game. Every one knows what happened; the Gautam Gambhir onslaught, the Misbah-ul-Haq fight-back, the Joginder Sharma over, and the captain MS Dhoni.
Those who were around in 1983 got to relive the world cup-winning feeling; those who weren't, got to know what it feels. The win started a new era in India's cricket, a new era under Dhoni. The captain cool became the bearer of the hopes of a billion cricket fans, and it's safe to say he has carried it well till now. The importance of what that World T20 win did to the Indian team cannot be stressed enough.
Today, no one knows where Joginder Sharma is, but everyone remembers his face and that final over.
Australia vs Pakistan, 2010 (The one with Mike Hussey)
The 2010 semi-final between Australia and Pakistan took place under the beautiful Caribbean sun in St Lucia, but witnessed one of the most brutal innings by Michael Hussey.
It was one of those games where Pakistan batted well. The Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar hit half-centuries in an excellent display from the Pakistani top-order. Aided by Salman Butt and some sloppy bowling by Australia that gave away 20 extras, Pakistan posted a daunting total of 191.
Australia, on the other hand, started badly, with danger-man David Warner getting out for a duck and Shane Watson departing for 16. The middle order did try to hold on, but no one converted those 20-odd runs into a big score that was required. Michael Hussey came in when Australia were 105/5 and eight overs left. Cameron White aided him in the chase, but he too fell on 43. Hussey hit two back-to-back sixes off Shahid Afridi in the 16th over and kept getting a boundary an over to keep Australia in the hunt. The Aussies needed 18 off the last over, which Saeed Ajmal was going to bowl.
Mitchell Johnson took a single of the first ball to give Hussey the strike. It was the Mr Cricket show thereafter. 6,6,4,6. Saeed Ajmal and Pakistan were left stunned in the face of Hussey's assault. Australia had reached the mammoth target with a ball to spare. Hussey made 60 off 24 balls and hit six sixes as he powered Australia into the World T20 final.
New Zealand vs South Africa, 2009 (An un-T20-esque encounter)
Many won't remember this one. It wasn't a semi-final or a final, it was group game. Contrary to T20 norms, the game was a low-scoring one, but still remains as one of closest World T20 encounters.
Brendan McCullum won the toss and asked South Africa to bat first. Jacques Kallis and Graeme Smith gave Proteas a strong start, but not a blistering one. That set the tone of the match. It wasn't going to be a regular T20 affair, where the ball more often than not ends up in the crowd.
Not a single South African batsman reached half-century and an average batting performance resulted in a below par total of 128. In reply, Black Caps sent forward their favourite son. Brendon McCullum stood strong as wickets fell around him. But just after Ross Taylor was dismissed, McCullum too departed after a valiant 57 off 54 balls. Their partnership had kept the chase alive. Jacob Oram fought on, but runs were difficult to get.
New Zealand needed 15 off the last over. Scott Styris took a single off the first ball and gave the strike to Oram. Two doubles followed. Oram was then dropped on the fourth ball and he managed another double on the ball. He then got lucky and edged Parnell to fine-leg boundary. New Zealand needed four runs off the last ball and Oram hit a straight ball to long on. Oram and Styris ran two, but Oram was run-out when the pair attempted a third, handing South Africa a one-run victory. It was indeed a thrilling finish.
India vs South Africa, 2012 (The middle-order match)
Another match involving South Africa that was won and lost by a margin of a single run, as close as it gets. But this time the Proteas ended up on the losing side.
South Africa won the toss and asked India to bat. The Indian top-order Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag and Virat Kohli were sent packing by the end of first six overs for a mere 36 runs. But it was a day when the middle-order would shine. The next four batsmen — Rohit Sharma, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni — added 25, 21, 45, and 23 runs respectively, taking India to more-than-decent total of 152.
In reply, rather similarly, South Africa too lost its first three batsmen — Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers — cheaply, in the first 6 overs. But Faf du Plessis brought the middle-order onslaught for South Africa. He hit a brilliant 65 off 38 balls, but fell after a six-over blitz. The rest of the middle-order chipped in with just 10-odd runs each and the pressure grew.
With 14 runs required from six balls and two wickets in hand, Albie Morkel hit Balaji's first ball for a six. But he departed next ball. Then came Morne Morkel. He played a dot ball but sent next one sailing into the stands to breathe life into the match. With two runs required from last two balls, Balaji hit the bull's eye as he cleaned up Morkel with a fine yorker and helped India edge the Proteas by a run.
England vs Netherlands, 2009 (Missed run-outs )
The opening match of the 2009 World T20 served up a thriller and a huge upset, when Netherlands spoiled England's party in their own backyard.
It was supposed to a one-sided affair, a statement of intent from England who were hosting the World T20. Instead it was Netherlands, an associate nation, who provided a strong statement that day: Don't ever call us minnows.
After being put into bat, England were off to a flying a start. Ravi Boparra and Luke Wright forged a 102-run opening stand in the first 11.2 overs. Wright continued to bat on even after Bopara's dismissal and with his 49-ball 71, he helped England reach 162. Netherlands had a daunting task ahead of them but they were up for it.
If it was Boparra and Wright who propelled England to a good total, it was a team effort by Netherlands that led to a successful and historic chase. A strong middle-order showing had all but bagged the game for Netherlands. They required a mere seven runs of the last over with four wickets in hand. But it wasn't going to simple.
Stuart Broad, bowling the last over, missed a run out chance off the first ball as Ryan Doeschate and Edgar Schiferli scampered through for a risky single. To the agony of England fans, Broad missed another run-out opportunity off the next ball as he collected and dived onto the stumps, but ended up disturbing them with his hand losing the grip of the ball. Broad then dropped a tough catch off his own bowling off the next ball. The fourth ball yielded a bye and next one just a single. With two required off the last ball, Broad again collected a mistimed shot on his follow through. It was meant to be a simple run out but he made a mockery of it as he turned, threw with full view of the stumps but missed. Doeschate and Schiferli ran another off the overthrow and Netherlands pulled off an unlikely upset.
Lesson learnt: Run them out, or there won't be any runs left for them to run.