T20 World Cup 2024 Final: India Ends ICC Title Drought with Victory Over South Africa!

by Ujwal Singh / 01-07-2024 / comments
T20 World Cup 2024 Final: India Ends ICC Title Drought with Victory Over South Africa!

As the thrilling T20 World Cup final drew to a close, three Indian players found themselves under immense pressure. Hardik Pandya, who had endured months of relentless boos during the IPL; Jasprit Bumrah, the lodestar tasked with proving once again why he is the greatest T20 bowler ever; and Arshdeep Singh, trusted by the team more than anyone else. South Africa, needing 26 runs from 24 balls with six wickets in hand, faced their own nerves, with their history ensuring the game was far from over.

Hardik turned the tide dramatically when he delivered a crafty slower ball outside off, dismissing Heinrich Klassen, the most composed South African player that day, and conceding only four runs. In the next over, Jasprit Bumrah not only dismissed Marco Jansen, the last player capable of alleviating the pressure on David Miller but also conceded just two runs. With 19 runs required from the final two overs, Arshdeep gave away only four. It was then up to Pandya to finish what he had started. The moment could have slipped away if not for an almost impossible catch under pressure: Suryakumar Yadav, appearing out of nowhere, managed a breathtaking catch at the boundary, dismissing Miller and securing the win. Rohit Sharma, slipping into the privacy of the dressing room, emerged wiping his tears. On the field, Rahul Dravid, who had overseen India's humiliating World Cup campaign in 2007 in the Caribbean, also found himself with a damp face.

Hardik reflected on his turbulent last six months, during which he replaced Rohit as Mumbai Indians captain and faced trolling both on and off the field for the team’s failures and his personal form. "It is very emotional, something was not clicking for me, but this was something the whole nation wanted. Special for me after my six months, I haven't spoken a word, things have been unfair, but I knew there’d be a time I could shine," he said. Rohit then surprised both the TV anchor and Hardik by sneaking into the frame and planting a kiss on India’s last-action hero. Rohit shared the significance of the win, especially after the heartbreaking loss to Australia in the 50-over World Cup last year. “A lot of high-pressure games, and we’ve been on the wrong side of it. Guys understand when the pressure is on what needs to be done. We stuck together with our backs to the wall…” he said, choking on his words.

Virat Kohli, whose bat had been silent all tournament, played a crucial role on the biggest day, scoring 76 from 59 balls. He announced his T20 retirement, saying it was time for the youngsters to take over. "This is my last T20 for India, I wanted to make the most of it… wanted to lift the Cup… wanted to respect the situation rather than force it," he said.

Spare a thought for the South Africans, who played a part in the great thriller and nearly broke free from the C-word that had plagued their past white-ball teams. When Klassen led a demolition job, history seemed within reach, but in the end, they came up short.

For a brief moment, Rohit and Dravid might have feared another empty feeling at the end of a World Cup campaign. But the game turned in their favour. Despite their contrasting batting and captaincy approaches, Rohit and Dravid shared similar cricketing lows. Universally hailed as cricketing greats, they were often seen as second-best compared to Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli. Dravid was the Wall, Rohit the Hit-Man.

World Cups had not been kind to them. In 2015, Rohit scored five hundreds, but India collapsed in the semi-final. Last year, he came close to emulating Dhoni by lifting the World Cup at home as captain, only to be thwarted by an incredible catch from Australia's Travis Head. This time, he shed happy tears in Barbados, where Dravid had once cried in disappointment in 2007.

The fan outrage after the 2007 team's failure to clear the league phase turned ugly, with effigies burnt and players' homes attacked. This time, the flight back will be more comfortable. After two heartbreaking ICC event final losses last year—the World Test Championship in June and the ODI World Cup in November—Dravid’s boys gave "Rahul bhai" a memorable farewell gift.

Unlike in 2007, as the flight takes off from the scenic Caribbean islands, Dravid and Team India will be keen to return home. Awaiting them will be rewards, a ticker-tape parade, open-bus celebrations, and a possible trip to Lok Kalyan Marg.

About Ujwal Singh

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