From India in 2007 to Pakistan in 2009 and England in 2010, here's a look at how the ICC World T20 titles were won
Before the first ICC World Twenty20 in 2007, the cricketing world was unsure of the format and whether it would catch on, or merely remain a poor cousin to Tests and One-Day Internationals. It took just two weeks of intense, high-voltage cricket to turn the question around, for it to be asked which other format would survive in the age of Twenty20 cricket.
The rise of Twenty20 wouldn’t have been possible without the results the first World T20 delivered. India’s victory was one that was studded with team efforts throughout, with the star turn coming from Yuvraj Singh.
The first match that India played – the game against Scotland was abandoned – resulted in a thrilling tie, and then a win by bowl-out against Pakistan. After a narrow loss against New Zealand, Yuvraj exploded into life against England with six sixes in one Stuart Broad over. He bettered that with a 30-ball 70, featuring some of the cleanest hitting possible, against Australia in the semifinal.
His dazzling strokeplay made it easy to forget that both Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag had hit fifties against England, that Robin Uthappa and Rohit Sharma had hit crucial half-centuries earlier, and that Irfan Pathan and RP Singh had turned in fine bowling performances. In the semifinal, Sreesanth took 2 for 12 from four overs – gold in a match that saw 361 runs scored in 40 overs.
The final also saw several weighty contributions, and another narrow win against Pakistan.
Unlike India in 2007, Pakistan didn’t hit the ground running at the ICC World Twenty20 2009, but qualified for the Super Eights, where it did just about enough to secure a semi-final spot. However, it was peaking when it mattered. After losing to Sri Lanka in the Super Eights, it was lifted by Umar Gul’s amazing spell of 5 for 6 in three overs in a must-win match against New Zealand – the first five-wicket haul in Twenty20 Internationals.
A workmanlike win against Ireland followed, before Pakistan faced South Africa, the title favourites, in the semifinal. That was when Shahid Afridi struck. With two stunning back-to-back all-round performances, Afridi all but delivered the title to Pakistan. He hit 51 off 34 balls and took 2 for 16 against South Africa, and then avenged the earlier loss to Sri Lanka with 54 off 40 balls and 1 for 20 in the final.
While India started well and Pakistan was slow, England was in danger of being eliminated in the first round in the ICC World Twenty20 2010. But once it scraped through to the Super Eights, it was unstoppable.
England started with a Duckworth-Lewis loss to West Indies and a washout against Ireland, but its campaign was kick-started by Kevin Pietersen’s 73 off 52 balls against Pakistan in the Super Eights. Pietersen found enough time to fit in a flight back home for the birth of his first child, and still play four more innings of substance. He was not dismissed for less than 47, and earned the Man of the Tournament award – the first time a member of the winning team had won the accolade in the short history of the ICC World Twenty20.
England was pushed by New Zealand in the only match that Pietersen missed, but found the man to get the job done, with Tim Bresnan following his 1 for 20 with an 11-ball 23. In the final, Craig Kieswetter stepped up with a superb 63, while Graeme Swann unfailingly kept things tight while picking up a wicket or two. It sealed England’s first world title in limited-overs cricket. That it came with seven wickets and with three overs to spare against Australia, the old enemy, only made it sweeter.
Each of the ICC World Twenty20s has thrown up unexpected twists and champions, a trend that may well continue in Sri Lanka this year.