The T20I World Cup 2007 was a redefining juncture for men in blue. The next generation team led by MS Dhoni, went on to win arch-foes Pakistan in the final to lift the trophy. Indian side didn’t have the big three – Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid - when they went to South Africa for the tournament, because the notion was to assemble a young teeam. Rohit Sharma, Robin Uthappa Yousuf Pathan and Joginder Sharma were presented with an opportunity. Despite that the men in blue defied all odds and went on to triumph in the first ever T20I World Cup.
During a discussion on Sportskeeda Cricket, Lalchand Rajput, who was the team manager of the national side at that time, let out that it was Rahul Dravid who induced Sachin and Ganguly to not take part in the T20I World Cup 2007.
“Yes, it is true (Rahul Dravid asked Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to not play the 2007 T20 World Cup),” Rajput said. “Rahul Dravid was the captain in England and some players came directly from England to Johannesburg (for the T20 World Cup) so they said ‘let’s give an opportunity to the youngsters’. But after winning the World Cup they must have repented it when we won the World Cup.
“Because Sachin always kept on telling me that I am playing for so many years and I have still not won the World Cup. Ultimately, he won in 2011, but he was dying to win that World Cup, and this team won on the first attempt.”
Looking back at the historic tournament, the former team manager revealed that the motto of the team was not to take pressure, which in return, helped keep a positive atmosphere in the dressing room. “I was a cricket manager of the 2007 T20 World Cup team. It was a big challenge, because it was a young team. There were a few experienced players, but the real seniors did not play with this team. It was a real opportunity for me as I was the coach for the first time, MS Dhoni was the captain for the first time. So, we really gelled well,” Rajput said.
“As a team, in a dressing room, the atmosphere should be very good. You should motivate players, and the players should not feel the pressure. Our theme during the World Cup was ‘tension lene ka nahi, dene ka (Don’t take tension, give tension)’. Dhoni really believed in the motto that people will talk things, but we need to focus on our strengths, and don’t have to worry about what others are saying.
“The win changed the entire perspective of Indian cricket because when we went there, no one expected us to win. Indian team never had much match practice of T20I World Cup. We had only played one T20I match, the others team had played more matches. We were not well prepared, but that hunger was there. This was the first time T20I World Cup was played, and we had a lot of hungry, young fellows, who were looking to make a name for themselves, and get a permanent place for themselves in the Indian Team. It was a good platform.
“There were certain senior players who were looking to make a comeback and cement their place in the team. It was a good mixture of senior and junior players. The T20I tournament is for young legs, you got to run around, and energetic, and super fit, and this made the difference in the team.”