After two weeks of fast and furious action that ended with a pulsating final, what have we learned about Twenty20 cricket?
It is, for sure, here to stay. Currently, the appetite for it appears almost insatiable. And it is easy to say why. The game, though ostensibly a slog-fest, is really just ultra-diluted cricket. It's all about skill - of course it is. But, perhaps more surprisingly, it's all about the bowlers.
They were expected to accept their maulings with good grace; instead, they have come armed with a plethora of subtleties - cutters, a variety of slower balls and the yorker. While Gautam Gambhir's 75 in the final was obviously vital, there is no way India could have defended their score without the wiles of RP Singh and Irfan Pathan. As in any form of the game, matches are won primarily by bowlers; in this case, Singh and Pathan, who took three wickets each.
It was a fitting way for a superb tournament to end. And it was quite remarkable that India, bereft of their four batting totems and their two best Test bowlers of late - Anil Kumble and Zaheer Khan - triumphed. Much credit must go to Mahendra Singh Dhoni - brain as well as brawn - and Yuvraj Singh's jaw-dropping hitting. Above all, they took responsbility, and benefited immeasurably from an infinitely improved fielding outfit.
So, already, the countdown has begun for the 2009 tournament. One would hope the Champions Trophy is scraped altogether but I would still like 50-over cricket to remain alongside the other two forms. Twenty20 is wonderful, but there are certain skills - the steady (rather than spectacular) accumalation of targets, as best exhibited by Michael Bevan, that bring ODIs into their own. That format has not run its course; rather, it has been badly damaged by the tediously elongated World Cup and a plethora of seven-game series. Ideally, three-match Test series should be accompanied by three ODIs and two (or possibly three) Twenty20 games.
We have seen the future, and we like it a lot, but it is too soon to pen our obituaries for the ODI game.