SKY's foot of God brings India the trophy they deserve

Because of SKY's foot of God, India won a World Cup that they had deserved many times over the last 11 years.

SKY's foot of God brings India the trophy they deserve

How would Rohit Sharma have been remembered if Suryakumar Yadav had not taken that catch, or even just touched the Toblerone? Or maybe he did touch the Toblerone and it didn't move. Or maybe it did move, but the cameras didn't quite pick it up the way that it should have been.

But what would Rohit's legacy be if India had lost that game? He's an IPL legend without any doubt, but he doesn't have major Indian success in the last decade. As a test player, he was a late bloomer. In World Cups, he's been ridiculously good at times, but without a trophy.

So, let's say SKY doesn't take that catch, or his foot does hit the Toblerone, or the Toblerone moves just on its own. What happens to Rohit Sharma's legacy at that point?

Because now it's safe and clean. But it wouldn't have been before, because there were so many people who were split on him.

And it's not just about Rohit Sharma, it's about the entire Indian team. They have been bilateral greats for 11 years, but they haven't managed to win anything when trophies come along. Because of all those losses, they're under so much pressure that normal athletes never even have to worry about.

What we saw with SKY's foot means that millimetres on the other side, perhaps David Miller goes on to win this game. Again, the thing that dominates all the conversation is that India are absolutely brilliant until it matters. The 11 year old narrative that will not die. That India can win anything that is not a trophy.

Instead, Surya Kumar Yadav's foot landed on the right side. The foot of God saved India and they won the World Cup.

(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

People don't remember this much anymore, but Sri Lanka had a great white ball team for a long period of time. They made the 2007 World Cup final, they made the 2009 T20 World Cup final, they made the 2011 World Cup final, and the 2012 T20 World Cup final.

They had great bowlers and great batting, with depth and variations that they could use. There were just so many good cricketers that they had in one group. All at that one time.

Yet in the 2007 World Cup, they go up against probably the greatest one day side of all time in Australia. And Australia go through them. In the 2009 T20 World Cup, they go up against one of the best T20 players of all time in Shahid Afridi, and they lose that one.

In 2011, it's India in India, and it feels like destiny is completely against them. A year later, Sri Lanka are at home against the West Indies, when no one knew West Indies was going to change T20 cricket over the next few years.

So for a long period of time, Sri Lanka were absolutely brilliant. But Mahela Jayawardene, Kumar Sangakkara, Lasith Malinga, and all the other greats that they had around at that period couldn't actually get a title. So they were almost forgotten.

But when they finally won that title, it didn't really matter after.

(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Now, I'm sure they are still annoyed if they go back to those other tournaments, they have all of those regrets. But you just have to win one.

And that was the problem with India, right? It didn't matter that they should have won more than one. It really mattered that they hadn't even won a single time. They were even better bilaterally than Sri Lanka was. In fact, we were inventing new tournaments, like the World Test Championship, which seemed to be something that would just come in so that India could lose another final.

That's how bad it had gotten. India won absolutely everything until the game that really mattered. And suddenly, they were nowhere to be found. This one changes everything. You look at the Indian lineup for this game and you see so many players whose reputation is completely going to be changed because of that.

What about Jasprit Bumrah? For me, he was absolutely the player of this tournament. I'm not sure I've ever seen anyone in control of the ball as Jasprit Bumrah was in this tournament. We just watched Jasprit Bumrah in the IPL, and I think he was even better in this one.

But I'd already heard whispers that Jasprit Bumrah was either too injured, or played great for Mumbai, but not great enough for India. Or when India really needed him to be incredible in major semi-finals and finals, he wasn't absolutely brilliant.

For someone as great as he is, there were an awful lot of whispers that Jasprit Bumrah might not have been at the level needed for India to get by. All of those whispers just stop now.

What about SKY? I couldn't believe when people said that he can only make runs against poor teams. Did they not watch him bat against South Africa in the last T20 World Cup?

In the semi-final, he completely showed who he was at an important time. Even that innings against Australia was incredibly important. He is a late blooming cricketer who has been very important for Mumbai Indians, and has now won a title for India. I feel like even if he drops off and never goes on to be the absolute great we all thought he was going to be, his legacy is pretty solid from here.

And I've been thinking a lot about Shivam Dube. He was one of the many Indian players I was told had to be dropped for this final. His presence in the team really makes sense to me because the threat of Shivam Dube is so big.

But there was a point when he was batting in the final, especially when he first came out, and they still needed a few extra runs. I thought to myself that if he fails here and South Africa chase this easily, he is the guy that is going to take all the flak. Despite the fact that they made the final without him actually having to do much, he's going to be blamed for something that has very little to do with him if he fails here.

This is the thing about cricket teams. We end up obsessing about the 9th, 10th or 11th best players, when they generally don't have that much of an impact on a game. Luckily for Shivam Dube, he got a couple of boundaries away and India won the game. Those boundaries he hit were quite important when you look at the final score.

The other big issue that kept coming up with the Indian team was Axar Patel and Ravindra Jadeja being very similar players. And I get that it is not ideal to have two players that are almost exactly the same in the same eleven. However, when those two players are allrounders, it's not as big an issue as one might think it could be.

Do you know which teams would have liked to have had a similar problem with their spin that India had? Every other team.

Australia would have taken both of those guys over Adam Zampa and whichever part-time spinner they had to use behind him. England would have traded in Adil Rashid for both of those guys. They are that good with bat, ball, and in the field.

But again, you look back at this game. Jadeja bowls one over and gets hit. Axar Patel ended up with a lot of runs, but also chewed up a few balls to end up with a good strike rate. He then got smashed everywhere, and it looked like that was going to lose India the World Cup.

We all know what would have happened if India had lost this World Cup. Axar Patel would have been absolutely decimated by his own fanbase.

And it's not even just the players. Think about Rahul Dravid for a moment. It's really weird that in some ways this entire reign has come from three different coaches – him, Ravi Shastri, and Anil Kumble. They all share a little bit of the blame, but no one's going to remember that. They're usually going to remember the last coach.

I've been told that Rahul Dravid can't possibly understand attacking cricket because of the way he played. Rahul Dravid understands attacking cricket. He may not have been able to play attacking cricket. It may not have been who he was as a person, but there's no doubt that he understood what India needed to do. He wanted them to be more attacking with the bat and more attacking with the ball.

That comes back to Rohit Sharma, who we mentioned at the top. His legacy would have been completely tainted. Think about what would have happened if India had lost this game. He got out after scoring nine runs from five balls, and was the king of intent.

But that forgets what he actually did in this tournament. He freed up India by playing in such a way that said they were just going to go out there and back their talent over and over again. Even when Rohit made mistakes in this game as a captain, like giving the spinners extra overs, he did that from a position of backing the talent of his team's players.

Was there a more hated man than Hardik Pandya? Well, at least in Mumbai, but right across the IPL. He burnt bridges with the Gujarat fans, and then he went to Mumbai to burn a whole new bunch of fans. The amount of times I was told he shouldn't be in the squad, let alone the side, just again and again.

Look at what he did today. He had to do very little with the bat. But with the ball, he had to step up. He's the difference between India winning and losing this game, because the spinners didn't get them anywhere.

He had to bowl extra seam, and then he had to bowl the overs at the most important times. We get the last over cause kind of anything could have happened there. But that earlier over, where he got Klaasen, was incredible.

I don't know if getting Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller out is going to change people's opinions of Hardik Pandya right now. But there is going to be a period in the future when people look back and say that was the guy who got Miller and Klaasen in that World Cup that we won. That's a little different from the guy that was booed by his own fans a couple of months ago.

And you can't mention all of this without coming back to Virat Kohli. The truth is that despite the fact that Virat Kohli was a World Cup winner, it's different for him. He hasn't won an IPL. He has been the star of Indian cricket for so long while they have been losing. The greatest player in the team that can't win a trophy.

Even though Kohli regressed to the anchor model in the final, the fact that he kept doing what Rohit was doing – showing intent and trying to score – for the majority of this tournament, actually again allowed everyone else to play with a sense of freedom. When your most important player is willing to put the team success above their individual runs, that's really important.

Again, coming into this game, people were saying that Virat Kohli should be dropped. I'm not sure why they needed to make a change from a team that hadn't lost a game yet. And I'm also not sure when you're facing a great bowling attack why you would actually want to take out one of your best batting talents, but that's a different question.

Of course, they do lose early wickets, and they have to regress again. But he didn't regress in a way that perhaps they did in 2019 or in 2022. Instead, there was still a little bit of intent there. They were still pushing, perhaps not as hard as many of the intent merchants out there, but they did put a little bit of pressure back.

But that's the great thing about this innings of Virat Kohli, because people are going to be talking about this for a long time for so many different reasons. At the halfway point of this game, this was Schrödinger's Kohli. We had no idea if he just played the innings that had won India the World Cup, or if he had played the innings that was actually going to mean that South Africa were going to get home.

And think about what happened after that. Think about how you viewed Virat Kohli's innings while Heinrich Klassen was hitting sixes and fours everywhere. Schrödinger's Kohli.

But what about South Africa? This is a team that I have been obsessed with for quite some time. And I'm not talking about back to 1992, although I'm also talking about back to 1992.

They weren't actually that close in the game in 1992. In 1996, they made a mistake by not picking Allan Donald, but the West Indies were probably a better team. Let's be truly honest here, both Australia and South Africa choked in 1999. It just happened to be that South Africa were the last team to choke in that game. In 2003, they didn't understand the piece of paper in front of them. Not ideal.

And we can keep going all the way up to Roelof van der Merwe being a South African player. He played for the Netherlands and took the catch that sent them out of the 2022 T20 World Cup.

In the last few years, Grant Elliott and Roelof van der Merwe both knocked them out of World Cups. They were South Africans now playing for other teams. There's always something like that.

But the truth is that South Africa had a very narrow path to victory, all the way through. They needed to take early wickets, which they got through a little bit of luck. Keshav Maharaj wasn't even bowling that well and he had two wickets. Then they needed Heinrich Klassen to go up against the spinners on a wicket that wasn't ragging sideways. They got that as well.

But it would be unfair to say that India have won this World Cup just because South Africa choked, because quite a few things happened here.

The first is that South Africa do not have a number seven. They certainly don't have a number eight. By the time we get to number nine, we're getting very bad. I've been writing about this for a long time, that a lot of South Africa's problems in knockout games come down to the fact that their flaws usually get exposed.

Once Heinrich Klassen went out, they had Marco Jansen coming in. The giant praying mantis with a bat. They didn't want him in that early. But even if you go before that, think about the Bumrah over.

So, South Africa get it to 30 from 30. But it's not a normal 30 from 30, is it? Because 12 of those balls have to be bowled by Jasprit Bumrah, who almost slipped two balls through Heinrich Klassen.

Heinrich Klassen was playing cricket like it was in a video game up until that point. Bumrah came on and everything changed. He put a lot more pressure on. Then there was a delay, which is exactly what South Africa would not have wanted. They were just strolling through the overs, smashing boundaries, putting pressure on, and doing whatever they wanted.

Suddenly, they had to sit there and think about it for a couple of minutes, and Heinrich Klassen gets a nick to a poor ball. That is what exposes South Africa's main problem. They don't really have a number seven, and Marco Jansen has to come out to bat. But he doesn't just have to come out and bat, he has to face Jasprit Bumrah at one stage.

Bumrah gets him out, and India had a very good chance of winning from there onwards. There is no South African in the world who was watching that and was completely positive since then.

India failing to win a trophy? That was a flare up. A small period of time. You want to know about a real curse? Talk to South Africans. 32 years of heartbreak.

And that 32 year thing is really important as well. Let's think about India, it's an incredibly young society at the moment. And that was one thing I couldn't get my head around. Why were these Indian fans so upset when their team was playing really well in bilateral cricket? They had plenty of wins to enjoy, and they had won in 2011 and 2013.

It was only when I started to look into it, I realized that a lot of people actually missed that. They were around 10 years old when those games happened. This means they couldn't really enjoy it the way a fan does when they've lived through an experience. It was right at the start of their life, or even before they really understood what cricket was.

Indian fans saw their team absolutely smash everyone until the trophy came up. And that was their entire experience. Now, it may have only been 10 years. But if 10 years is around two-thirds of your life, that's a lot of time. It doesn't matter if it's 32 years or 11 years at a certain point, right? It matters how much of your life it is.

There's something else when it comes to the Indian cricket team. There's something about the identity of that team that it isn't like one person, even though they have incredible stars.

It isn't just a cricket team from India, it is part of the national identity. And that is a huge thing when it's a country that in every other way is becoming this incredible superpower. And in one very big way, the sport that so many of them love, they can't get a trophy to put in a cabinet.

You watch Indian cricket and you do realize it is a collective. It breathes, it cries, it rises, it falls on millions of people — all in one moment. It's not like any other sports team we've ever seen anywhere before.

The stakes are always so high, and they're so high for everyone. We've talked about the legacy of all these individual players and the coaches. But realistically, think about this — millions and millions of people rose, and potentially we're going to fall on the fate of a couple of millimetres.

What if Heinrich Klassen had missed that ball from Hardik Pandya? South Africa would probably just go on to win that game really easily.

And then we come back to SKY's catch.

(Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

As I said at the start, I have no idea what happened with that foot. I thought I saw the Toblerone move and then later, I thought I didn't see the Toblerone move. It's possible that he touched it and it didn't move. It's possible that he didn't touch it and something else moved. It's possible that he was millimeters on either side of it.

But this is what I do know, because of SKY's foot of God, India won a World Cup that they had deserved many times over the last 11 years. And every one of those losses that broke millions of hearts so many times, as hard as all of that was, makes this one time of winning by millimetres worth so much more.