|World Twenty20 Cup Qualifier: Belfast, Northern Ireland, August 2008|
‘Fast, furious and entertaining’ – India’s dramatic triumph
The inaugural ICC World Twenty20 2007 event proved to be one of the most exciting cricket events of all time, sparking huge interest in the format across the globe.
India and Pakistan played out a dramatic final, which was only decided in the last over as India triumphed by five runs. It proved to be an even better game than the one between the same sides days earlier in Durban which had been settled by the first ever bowl out at an ICC event after a dramatic tie.
As the Times of India argued in its editorial two days later, "The final - indeed the entire tournament - summed up what Twenty20 cricket is all about: fast, furious and entertaining."
The final created television history with the TV Ratings touching a peak of 15.2 - a record for Indian television. ESPN and Star Cricket had a combined rating of 21.2 and a channel share of 47.2, despite being up against popular reality TV shows being shown at the same time.
The event, the first under the new commercial cycle of rights between 2007-15, was also the first that saw IDI manage contracts directly with its sponsors and broadcasters, rather than through a third party.
ESPN STAR Sports, the ICC's broadcast partner, provided cutting edge coverage with new and innovative camera angles including a suspended cable camera and new features including human-centric player profiles, the introduction of the biggest sixes property that showed the longest sixes hit during the game and tournament, a live fielding tracking graphic and other features such as the Corridor of Uncertainty to gauge wide balls. It was also the first ever event where ICC branded graphics were used in the official broadcast.
Played out in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg, attendances were very good with a short tournament format, affordable ticket prices (with lowest prices of R20 - about US$2.5 - for Group matches) and a successful marketing campaign, which included innovative television commercials targeted at a South African audience, drawing fans to the stadia. Spectators at the ground were treated to an exciting Sportainment experience - that being a 'combined delivery of exciting stadium entertainment to match the fast and furious on-field action.'
This included DJ booths at each venue accompanied by a PA Announcer, dancers on podiums around the ground, the presence of Dr Beat - a character created by Cricket South Africa to interact with the spectators; distribution of hard hats; free face-painting, school kids promotion to encourage attendance figures; replay screens at each venue; pyrotechnics; dugouts and the event song. Their every need was attended to by a hugely successful volunteer team, who were hailed by the crowd at each of the venues in the volunteer parade.
Fans watching on television in more than 100 countries including territories as diverse as Canada, China or Japan, following the action on their mobile, listening to the audio stream provided by IMG or accessing the almost instant highlights of matches for free on the Yahoo powered official tournament website, www.worldtwenty20.com, were treated to some magical moments. These included Yuvraj Singh's six hitting display against England where he scored an incredible 36 off a Stuart Broad over, Chris Gayle's hundred on the opening night of the tournament, Brett Lee's hat-trick against Bangladesh and Shahid Afridi's consistent brilliance throughout which saw him win Man of the Tournament.
And the event was certainly a hit with spectators. A survey conducted by the official tournament website, which saw 91.5 million page views during the event, saw an average fan rating of over 4.6 out of 5 for the event, with 74% of supporters more supportive of the Twenty20 format than they had been before the event and the 'sportainment' drawing an average rating of almost 4 out of 5 across all age groups.
The twelve competing teams were split into four groups of three with the top two qualifying for two pools of four from which the top two went on to contest the semi-finals.
Bangladesh shocked the West Indies by eliminating them from the Group stages, while the hosts South Africa crashed out at the Super Eight stage as Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan all progressed to the semi-finals.
But it was the dramatic final that will be remembered by most fans. Pakistan narrowly failed to reach India's total of 157-5, as they were bowled out for 152 all out off 19.3 overs, with Irfan Pathan capturing the Man of the Match Award.