There are times when everything looks set for a spectacular finish, and then Mr.Murphy takes over and everything that can go wrong, goes wrong leaving the build up to fizzle out. Such a situation is referred to as an anti-climax, and everyone hates an anti-climax. Its been a fantastic tournament, one that didn't deserve an anti-climax, and one that certainly didn't get one.
India and Pakistan were the lead performers in an act that had much to live up to in terms of history, context, expectations, attention. They delivered, and how!
It was essentially going to be a game between the Indian batsmen and the Pakistani bowlers. Pakistan's modus operandi for most part of this series was to bowl first, bowl the opposition out early and calmly accumulate the runs needed. India's modus operandi had been to bat first, put a fighting total up on the board, and grind it out till the wire. Forged with match after match of pitting nerves against nerves, the Indians held their own in the decisive, final over to outlast Pakistan in the tournament.
The big battle was played out first; the Indian batsmen did their bit and managed to keep Pakistan from running through them. To bat Pakistan out of the match, India needed Yuvraj to fire, and he didn't. No one stepped up to hit the sixes he had missed, but Gambhir held fort, and aided with support from Rohit Sharma at the end, managed to put up something for the Indian bowlers to defend.
The most thrilling part of the act was then left to the support cast. The Indian bowlers and the Pakistani batsmen struggled in a slug out, trading punches, attacks and counter-attacks, until India laid the chokehold and restricted the Pakistani scoring, smuggling wickets alongside.
Pakistan's strength lies in the fact that their batting prowess is spread across the middle order, with 4-5 batsmen holding the key to posting a good score. So even when they lost half their side with more than 60 to get, they still had Misbah-Ul-Haq and Yasir Arafat, men who had knocked nearly 40 off 2 overs in their league game against India, men who were still capable of winning this one.
Misbah-Ul-Haq had refused to take a single to keep himself on strike and keep Sohail Tanvir at the other end. This, apparently, didn't go down too well with Tanvir who got the strike and smacked two huge sixes to compliment the other big ones flowing from Misbah's bat at the other end.
However, with the Indian bowlers chipping away at the wickets, it was down to the final over, with Pakistan needing 6 runs off 4 balls, and ominously for India, Misbah on strike. The shot that has been seen most often in the World Cup, the scoop over short third man, was the shot that decided the fate of the tournament. Reminiscent of Gatting's fatal reverse sweep in the 1987 World Cup, Misbah-Ul-haq went for a fancy shot when it was least needed and paid the price, with Pakistan getting bowled out five runs short of landing on the right side of History.
Going into the game, India had recorded a tournament average of 176 runs in their 20 overs,while Pakistan's corresponding figure was 159. The Indian batsmen underperformed, but not the extent of leaving their bowlers without a shot, a shot they took with sensational results.