Cricket changed forever when the Indian team, led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, won the inaugural edition of ICC World T20 in 2007. Not only did it make T20 format more popular in India but also convinced BCCI of its value.
This triumph of the Indian team had another long-lasting impact on cricket. it gave birth to the legend of MS Dhoni, the leader. India had gone into the tournament having played just one T20I and without their senior players. Nobody expected them to go far in the tournament as BCCI had refused to give any importance to this format.
With the experienced players out, MSD was given the charge of leading the team. His success confirmed his place as India's new captain in shorter formats and he eventually got the position in the longer version as well.
Another fall-out of India's victory in the final was the growth of Dhoni's image as a genius captain who can see things others can't and pull off the most unexpected but successful tactical moves on the field. The one decision that contributed most to this image of Dhoni becoming popular was his decision to bowl Joginder Sharma in the last over of the match.
This surprised a lot of people but the move worked and Sharma, by getting Misbah-ul-Haq out, won the match for his team. Everyone now regarded Dhoni as a tactical genius who can come up with the shrewdest moves, too clever to be understood by anyone, and win games for India.
But is that impression of the former Indian captain justified? Is he genuinely a great tactical thinker or just a gambler who got lucky? To answer this question, let us look at that final over bowled by Joginder Sharma.
There were just four balls bowled in that over. The first one was a big wide. The second delivery was similar but not too wide and Misbah swung and missed it. The third ball was a wide full-toss which the Pakistani batsman dispatched for six down the ground. The fourth one was a simple length ball, also wide, and Misbah tried to play a clever ramp shot over the keeper in which he failed and got out.
So, two things are clear from this close look at that over. One, that the plan was to bowl full and wide to Misbah and two, Joginder bowled quite poorly. It was only the horrible shot-selection of the Pakistani batsman that got him out. So, one cannot credit Dhoni for the way the match ended.
Many people have pointed out that Harbhajan Singh had an over left but Joginder was chosen ahead of him. This is, again, not a masterstroke but a completely normal decision as Harbhajan had gone for 36 runs in his three overs. Joginder was the only frontline bowler with an over left at the time and had been very economical.
The wide of off-stump line may have failed completely if Misbah had stayed still and smashed the ball over the top rather than trying something ultra-cheeky and unorthodox.
So, India's win in that match was simply a result of good overall cricket by the team and some good luck. Bowling Joginder at the end was a compulsion and India were lucky to get away with it. Let us not make a virtue out of necessity.