There was excitement in the air, for the team as well as for me personally, as I was all set to make my debut in a T20 International. But, thanks to my captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and teammates, I felt very much at ease.
They ensured there were no hiccups as I was made to feel in the ‘zone’. And, my joy knew no bounds when I returned a four-wicket haul against Bangladesh on my debut in the ICC T20 World Cup 2009.
It was cold and gripping the ball was a bit of a problem. But this is a format which brings excitement not just in the stands but even among the players. Everything changes in a short span of time. It is a different kind of test for any player.
And, to come up trumps in such an ambience at Trent Bridge was a highly satisfying feeling. I remember we scored 179 for five, thanks to Gautam Gambhir’s half-century and breezy knocks from Rohit Sharma and Yuvraj Singh.
When Bangladesh batted, the openers were off to a decent start. Thankfully, when I was given the chance, I found my rhythm straightaway. Getting the wickets of Junaid Siddique, Shakib Al Hasan, Mahmadulla and Mashrafe Mortaza was a wonderful experience.
It was a thrilling feeling for me as a debutant to return figures of 4-0-21-4. More importantly, I had the satisfaction of playing a key role in India’s win.
Certainly, the IPL experience was a major plus for me as my debut also gave me confidence and signified that even a spinner could play a big role in a T20 World Cup.
My next match was against Ireland — no pushover by any means. Again, when I look back, I think I did reasonably well with that spell of 4-0-18-2, including the wicket of Kevin O’Brien whom I cleaned him up. Ireland, chasing 180, was restricted to 112 for eight.
I thought it was a pretty decent start for a debutant in such a prestigious event.
Unfortunately, we lost our way later on when we lost to the West Indies, England and South Africa. The last two matches were pretty close and could have gone either way. (Ojha did not play in the last two games).
Well, there will be disappointment when I look back now, as we failed to qualify for the knockout phase. But what was important was that none of the players was found wanting in terms of commitment. It was just one of those events when we failed to sustain the early momentum. But, the end result was never a reflection of the quality and potential of that team.
As far as India’s chances are concerned in the coming edition, I feel we should be one of the strong favourites.
(as told to V.V. Subrahmanyam)
Keywords: 2012 world twenty20