The ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007 remains one of the finest cricketing memories of my life. Before that event we suffered one of the lowest points — the exit from the World Cup at the West Indies. And at that moment some of us, especially youngsters like me, wondered whether we would ever play for India again.
Ahead of the event in South Africa we knew we did not have the three greats — Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly — with us and there was talk about whether the youngsters can take India forward. Add to it the fact that we were playing a format — Twenty20 — which we were not used to and there was that bit of extra pressure.
The biggest plus point was that we as a team decided to take it one day, one game at a time. We said ‘okay, we don’t know much about this format but we will go along and give it our best.’ The first match (against Scotland) was washed out and then we won against Pakistan through a bowl-out. I remember bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad giving us competitions like ‘batsmen vs bowlers’ after every practice session and we basically had to bowl and knock out the stumps.
That training helped us in that crucial bowl-out. All of us were keen and I went to M.S. Dhoni and said, ‘please give me the ball’ and he agreed and we all did well in that. Yes, we did lose the next game (against New Zealand) but we stayed positive and we had a dream run from then on. Yuvraj Singh with his six sixes was superb against England. In the semifinal against Australia, though their openers had a good start, we were sure it was just a matter of getting wickets.
Ahead of the final against Pakistan, personally I was focused on recovering from a hamstring injury and physio John Gloster was a great help. Though I did not score much in that key match, I contributed on the field. In that last over that Joginder (Sharma) bowled, when Misbah-ul-Haq played that scoop and the ball went high, we were all praying and, yes, I prayed right through that final. I was hoping S. Sreesanth would hold on even if it meant taking the ball on his chest and he did well to catch that and I guess destiny was with us at that moment.
It was a great tournament for us and we enjoyed each other’s success and personally I did well.
As told to K.C. Vijaya Kumar
Keywords: World Twenty20