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India clinched the inaugural Twenty20 cricket World Cup after a thrilling five-run victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in the final in Johannesburg on Monday.
In a match that saw fortunes fluctuate till the dying moments, the young Indian team scored 157 for five and then held its nerve to dismiss Pakistan for 152 with just three balls to spare.
It was India's first major triumph since winning the 60 overs-a-side World Cup in 1983.
It was an incredible display by the Indians who relied on superb team work to not only maintain their all-win record against their bitter foes in World Cup matches but also complete a series of giant-killing acts in the blaze glory.
The stunning victory not only added a glorious chapter to India's cricketing history but also made amends for the team's inglorious exit from the ODI World Cup in the West Indies [Images] six months ago.
The large flag-waving gathering of Indians at the Wanderers burst into celebration when S Sreesanth [Images] caught the dangerous Misbah-ul Haq off Joginder Sharma to bring an end to Pakistan's challenge.
The contest seemed to go out of India's hands in the 17th over when Misbah clobbered Harbhajan Singh [Images] for three sixes, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni's [Images] band of young warriors roared back in great style to come out trumps and claim the winners' purse of US $49,000.
Irfan Pathan [Images] was named the Man of the Match.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir [Images] slammed a 54-ball 75 and Rohit Sharma scored an unbeaten 30 but the big guns like Yuvraj Singh [Images] and Mahendra Singh Dhoni failed to click when it mattered the most.
But the Indian bowlers responded to the challenge admirably, bowling their hearts out in the pulsating contest which saw Irfan Pathan (3-16) and R P Singh (3-27) play a stellar role.
For Pakistan, Misbah-ul Haq was the top scorer with a 38-ball 44 and Imran Nazir [Images] chipped in with 33, but their efforts were not enough to overhaul the Indian target.
Pakistan needed 13 runs off the last over, bowled by Joginder Sharma who was clearly overawed by the enormity of the occasion. He started with a wide and followed it with a dot ball.
However, the next one went sailing into the sight screen as Misbah-ul Haq hit his fourth six that drove India to despair.
With just six needed off four balls, Misbah threatened to pilot Pakistan to a dream triumph all on his own. And yet, as it were, he went for a delicate chip over fine leg, a dangerous shot to play under the circumstances, didn't connect well enough and Sreesanth took what could be the most memorable catch of his career.
Pakistan were bowled out for 152 in 19.3 overs chasing India's 157 for 5. Misbah scored 43 off 38 balls, inclusive of four sixes.
Gautam Gambhir slammed a rollicking 75 as none of the other batsman got going to prop the Indian innings. The left-hander struck his third half century of the tournament but India could not capitalise on a reasonably good start, leaving their arch-rivals to score at a comfortable asking rate of 7.9 to clinch the title in its inaugural edition.
Young Rohit Sharma (30 not out) was the other notable contributor as the Indians found the going tough in the face of some disciplined bowling by their bitter foes, who took control of the game from the midway stage.
Paceman Umar Gul played a big role in upsetting the tempo with a brilliant effort of 3 for 28 in his four overs, capturing the prized scalps of Yuvraj Singh (14), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (6) and Gambhir.
India had to do without the services of the hard-hitting Virender Sehwag [Images], who had to sit out because of a groin injury.
Yusuf Pathan, Irfan's older brother, replaced Sehwag and even opened the innings with Gambhir. He made his intentions clear by clobbering Mohammad Asif [Images] for a huge six in the first over of the innings and the duo put on 13 runs in the opening over.
Yuvraj and Dhoni, the two explosive strikers in the middle order who had championed the team's cause so wonderfully in India's run-up to the final, failed to fire.
Their dismissals in the 14th and 16th over respectively meant that, when it mattered, the Indians didn't get the big hits.
India were 69 for 2 after 10 overs and they added only 87 runs in their next 10. In fact, India scored only 47 runs in their last five overs.
India won the toss and batted on a good pitch. Yusuf Pathan clobbered Mohammad Asif for a huge six in the first over and square drove the bowler for a boundary in his second, but the bowler had his revenge by dismissing him on the next ball when the Indian top-edged a pull shot for Shoaib Malik [Images] to take the skier at mid-on. He scored 15 off eight balls.
Robin Uthappa lasted just 11 balls before he fell trying to go over cover to Sohail Tanvir; he didn't hit it sweetly and was caught by Shahid Afridi [Images] at cover for 8.
Yuvraj, whose blazing innings against England [Images] and Australia provided a spark to the Indian innings, failed to rise to the occasion.
In fact, he was rather subdued during his 19-ball stay before being dismissed in the 14th over for 14. He hit just one boundary before top-edging a big hit off Umar Gul for the bowler to take an easy return catch.
Dhoni was done in by some aggressive bowling by Gul who was 'no-balled' for a beamer on the first ball. He still followed it with another short delivery. And then on the third ball, Dhoni went for a big heave, missed, and his leg stump went flying to the great delight of the Pakistan side.
All the while, Gambhir batted beautifully. He picked handy boundaries playing the pull and cut with relish. He hit two consecutive fours off Hafeez in the 10th over before hitting his first six, over midwicket, off Afridi.
With wickets falling around him Gambhir continued to do his beat pulling Gul over mid-wicket for his second six in the 18th over. He fell in the same over when he tried to play a cheeky sweep and was caught at short fine leg.
Rohit Sharma then used the long handle to great effort, hitting two sixes and a boundary as India scored 14 in the last over.
R P Singh made early inroads for India and took 3 for 26 while Irfan Pathan's magical spell in the middle overs rocked Pakistan enabling him to finish with 3 for 16. Even Joginder Sharma did well, finishing with 2 for 20.
R P Singh gave India the perfect start, dismissing Mohammad Hafeez [Images] (1) and Kamran Akmal (0) in successive overs, the first and third of the innings. But, in between, Imran Nazir did a lot of damage, taking 21 runs off Sreesanth's first over.
Hafeez was caught at first slip by Uthappa while Akmal played across and lost his leg stump.
Imran Nazir roughed up Sreesanth with his audacious stroke-play in his first over, smashing him for two sixes and two fours.
The first ball went over cover for a four, the second over mid-wicket for a six, the third again for a six over third man and the fifth was whacked over point for another boundary.
Luckily for India, they got him out of the way in the sixth over when Robin Uthappa's direct hit from mid-off saw him short of the crease by inches.
Younis Khan became the fourth casualty in the innings when he holed out in the deep to Joginder Sharma for 24.
However, it was Irfan Pathan who really rocked the Pakistan innings in the middle overs when he dismissed captain Shoaib Malik (8) and big hitter Shahid Afridi (0) within the space of three deliveries.
Malik, who crawled to 8 off 17-balls went for a pull from outside the off stump and was picked at mid-wicket by Rohit Sharma. And when Shahid Afridi walked in, Pathan intimidated him with a first-ball bouncer that was called wide by the umpire.
However, the delivery had its effect on the batsman's mind and off the very next ball Afridi looked to hit him out of the ground, didn't connect well and presented a skier to Sreesanth, running in from long-off.
At 78 for 6 after 12 overs, Pakistan needed 80 runs off 48 balls at 10 runs per over with just 4 wickets in hand.
And when Irfan Pathan bowled Yaseer Arafat in the 16th over, Pakistan needed 53 runs from 4 overs with just three wickets to go.
That was when all the drama began. Misbah-ul Haq hit three towering sixes off Harbhajan to engineer a heart-stopping finish.
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