Does September 24, 2007 evoke the same degree of romance for an Indian cricket fan as June 25, 1983 (Prudential Cup win) or April 2, 2011 (ICC World Cup)? I am not too sure about it but with another T20 World Cup round the corner in the UAE and Oman, one cannot help but feel that the ragtag Indian squad’s triumph under MS Dhoni in the inaugural edition of the event in South Africa had spawned the biggest revolution in the sport in the new millennium.
Yes, India’s triumph in the 2011 50-overs World Cup at home saw them regain the trophy after 28 years and had it’s own aura, for it still remains the most coveted prize in the game. The significance of the anniversary of 2007 win goes far beyond that of the spontaneous ovation that Dhoni’s men received on their return to Mumbai - it brought a change of heart among the policymakers of Indian cricket board about their perception of the format and with it - a realisation that it could be their cash cow in the coming years.
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Allow me to jog the memory a bit - the mandarins of Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) was simply reluctant to send a team for the ambitious ICC experiment of staging a World Cup in the shortest format. That year had hardly gone well for Indian cricket with the star-studded national team, led by Rahul Dravid, failing to cross the league stages of the 50-overs World Cup in the West Indies - leading to the acrimonious exit of coaching guru Greg Chappell.
The consensus was eventually to send a so-called second string team for the World T20 by hoisting Dhoni as captain while Dravid convinced the other members of his ‘Fab Four’ - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman to stay away from the format. There were no dearth of experience though in the likes of Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh or Yuvraj Singh in the team but a number of new heroes were born in a fresh-faced Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa, swing bowler R.P.Singh or Joginder Singh - the last over hero of the final.
The triumph of World T20 had the BCCI scurrying on the drawing board to contemplate the plans of the city-based franchise league in the lines of the English Premier League - a dream project which was the brainchild of Lalit Modi, the flamboyant Vice-President of the board. BCCI soon decided to take ownership of the project by taking their active top stars on board and banned the Indian Cricket League (ICL) - a project which had the legendary Kapil Dev as it’s face and the backing of one of the leading privately owned TV channels.
The ICL, honestly speaking, was the precursor of the IPL in India and it comprised a motley collection of retired stars like Brian Lara, Inzamam-ul Haq and Chris Cairns and several fringe first class cricketers from India. The BCCI decided to crack the whip to create their own product and in less than four months, the gala bidding war for the eight IPL teams in January 2008 saw the Who’s Who from India’s corporate and entertainment world in fray for the teams.
The IPL was born and it soon became evident that this format is set to change the landscape of the game in near future. The ICC, on their part, wanted to milk on the success of their new product and ended up hosting back-to-back World Cups in 2009 and 2010.
From reluctant starters, India soon on to become the hub of the T20 game and other countries went on to create clones of it. Surely, India’s 2007 triumph played it’s part in the boom that we are witnessing today!