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India clinches victory from jaws of defeat, lifts ICC World T20 title



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For a moment, there was nothing above the ball, but sky. It seemed destined to land up in the lap of one of the many spectators left on the edge of their seats by a gripping finale.

And then, below it, nothing but SKY.




A country erupted as one in joy and relief. It was one of those rare “where were you when…” moments in the life of a cricket fan. Catches win matches. This is one that won a World Cup, much like Kapil in 1983.

But for a large part of the chase, it seemed it would not be India’s day. After Arshdeep and Bumrah netted two early wickets in South Africa’s chase of 177, Klaasen and De Kock looked at ease in their pursuit of history, hammering the generally outstanding Kuldeep Yadav through the middle overs before taking 24 off Axar Patel’s last over to eventually bring it down to 30 needed off 30. A cakewalk, surely.

And then, Bumrah.

From being on the front foot for much of their innings, the Proteas duo were all too happy to play out India’s trump card, especially when a yorker tailed into Klaasen and Rohit Sharma indicated he saw a hint of reverse on display. It seemed India still had a lifeline left to cling to. At least 6 balls worth of it.

From this scenario, the unlikeliest protagonist emerged. To say Hardik Pandya has had a difficult time over the last six months would be to make a massive understatement. He has been trolled relentlessly on social media and pilloried endlessly at grounds for the decision to bring him in as captain of the Mumbai Indians. It was a decision that was hugely unpopular among the fanbase, and that spark of discontent rose to a roaring fire with every defeat the Mumbai Indians posted. It was Pandya that got the worst of the roasting over it, as fans, pundits, and every armchair spectator weighed in to lambast him.

Here, the nation looked to Pandya again. Only this time with hopeful eyes.

It was perhaps too much to ask of him. After all, Pandya isn’t a frontline bowler, even if he has opened the bowling on occasion. And he was facing a man wielding the willow like an executior’s blade. All Pandya wanted to do was keep the ball out of Klaasen’s hitting arc, and avoid the guillotine being brought down on him.

And so, he bowled a slower, wider delivery, perhaps hoping to avoid punishment. Instead, he forced the error from South Africa’s dangerman, with Rishab Pant gleefully snaffling the edge behind the stumps to bring to an end a knock that was the fastest half century in a T20 World Cup final.

The rest of the over was quite uneventful. With South Africa’s last recognised batters at the crease, they needed 22 off 18 balls to script history. Surely, this was a done deal.

Not yet. Not quite. As he has so many times in the past, Rohit turned to Bumrah, the man who maketh miracles, in the hope he could conjure his magic one more time.

If South Africa had any apprehensions about his final over, they were manifest on his very first delivery, a wicked delivery that somehow missed the stumps and left the well-set David Miller scrambling to cover it, unsuccessfully.

After demonstrating his skill from around the wicket, Bumrah went back over the wicket, and delivered a ball that will be played back again and again. Marco Janssen had little idea what hit him. He did everything right. He covered the angle from wide of the crease, barely left a gap between bat and pad. And yet, the ball somehow jagged back sharply to find a way through and offer India a lifeline, with inroads now into the Protean’s tail. Bumrah closed the over out without pomp, and South Africa needed 20 off 12 to win a historic first World Cup.

Bumrah doing Bumrah things
Bumrah doing Bumrah things. Image courtesy: Getty Images

Lined up against Keshav Maharaj, Arshdeep Singh delivered a nerveless over to turn the screws on South Africa when India needed it most, ramping up the equation to 16 needed off 6 for South Africa.

With Miller on strike, Pandya tried to repeat his trick with Klaasen, but he just missed his length and gave a low, wide full toss for the southpaw to hit through. He only managed to get the toe end of the bat on it, and it seemed destined to land up in the stands, until Suryakumar Yadav deigned otherwise.

He should never have been able to pull it off. Running at full tilt to his left, that he got there is a testament to his agility. But it was his presence of mind that won the day, in a high-pressure situation no less. It is a catch he will be constantly reminded of, and one whose tale he will likely tell his grandchildren. If Gibbs dropped the World Cup in 1999, Suryakumar ended up catching it in the most unbelievable circumstances in 2024.

Rabada came to the crease, and netted a streaky boundary, but India’s belief never wavered from that point. It was as if the Boys in Blue knew the cricket gods were smiling down on them as they secured a first ICC World Cup since 2011.

Rohit raises his arms to the heavens as India seal the deal
Rohit raises his arms to the heavens as India seal the deal. Image courtesy: CREIMAS

There were many protagonists in India’s tale. Kohli doing Kohli things to score 76 runs off 59 balls, even if he did go a touch slowly through the middle. Axar Patel justified the team’s faith in him throughout the tournament, scoring a steady 47 off 31 to give Kohli critical breathing room. Shivam Dube offered crucial impetus at the end of India’s innings, but it was Bumrah, Pandya, and Arshdeep’s contribution at the back-end of the South African innings that sealed the deal for India, and heartbreak for the Proteas.

Team with trophy
The team celebrates with the hard-won trophy. Image courtesy Associated Press

Emotions ran high at the end, perhaps none more so than Dravid, who donned his ‘Indiranagar ka gunda’ avatar towards the end. Celebrations and tears flowed freely, as news filtered through that Rohit and Virat had called it a day in T20I’s, as well as Rahul Dravid calling it a day as coach of the team. As it was when they were at the crease, they couldn’t have timed it better.

The Big 3
The Big 3 pose together one final time in India colours. Image courtesy: CREIMAS

A fitting end to their T20I innings, for a bigger finish they could not have hoped for. For India, there was angst with 30 minutes to go, and then exultation at the end of it. In the end, the Boys in Blue lifted the blues in spectacular fashion, sealing a memorable win that will go down in the annals of Indian cricket as a great one.

Where were you when it was won?