Shamik Das


Sunday, September 23, 2007

T20 final promises plenty of fun in the Jo'burg sun

STANDING IN THE SHADOW OF GIANTS: Shoaib Malik and Mahendra Singh Dhoni pose with the world Tewnty20 trophy ahead of tomorrow's final, under the watchful gaze of Nelson Mandela.

Wanderers, Johannesburg, World Twenty20 Championship final: Pakistan v India (24th September)


OVER a billion men, women and children are set for a sleepless night ahead of the most anticipated match in 20-over history.

Their fervent populaces awaiting with bated breath, the players of India and Pakistan are geared up for what promises to be a thrilling end to a fascinating tournament.

Separated only by a bowl out in the opening phase, the two form teams in South Africa have just one regulation time defeat between them, with only first round flops Kenya, the West Indies and Zimbabwe escaping their wrath.

Victory for either team will be especially sweet given the sides' failures at the World Cup in the spring, when they were both knocked out at the group stage.

For Pakistan it would be a fitting tribute to former coach Bob Woolmer, who died in the Caribbean following the shock defeat to Ireland.

Success for India, meanwhile, would help erase the memory of an equally unimpressive campaign in which they managed a solitary win against the might of Bermuda. Remember Dwayne Leverock, anyone?

Yuvraj Singh  Sree Santh  Shahid Afridi

With both the sub-continent giants packed brimful with match-winners, the game could go either way. Yuvraj Singh, Sree Santh and Shahid Afridi the three most likely to pull off something spectacular.

Singh blasted six sixes in an over off England's Stuart Broad earlier in the tournament, only the fourth man in the history of the game to achieve the feat, and turned the semi-final against Australia around with a blistering 30-ball 70.

Santh also fired on all cylinders against the 50-over world champions, finishing with the amazing figures of 4-1-12-2, combining accuracy with hostility to rile the Aussies.

Pakistan all-rounder Afridi, however, has the skill to win a game with bat and ball, scoring 91 runs and taking 12 wickets to lead the player of the tournament standings going into tomorrow's final.

And on the eve that final India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni summed up the mood of the two nations when he said: "There is nothing more exciting than an India-Pakistan match, so expect some fun."

If their previous meetings at ICC tournaments are anything to go by, Dhoni won't be disappointed.

Listen live to full coverage of tomorrow’s final on the
BBC Sport website from 1:00pm.

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