Batsman Robin Uthappa has revealed that he feared for his place in the Indian team following the country’s dismal first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies after defeats to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

At the time, Uthappa was preferred by coach Greg Chappell as India’s opener. The star-studded Indian outfit was stunned by Bangladesh in their tournament opener. Rahul Dravid’s side beat newcomers Bermuda before losing to the Lankans in a do-or-die encounter.

“After the World Cup in West Indies, I honestly never thought I would play for India again,” said Uthappa in a chat show Homerun with AV with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative.

“It was again a very precarious time in Indian cricket. When a team of that calibre fails in the competition that everyone has been waiting to play in for the last…and they tagged us as favourites given the fact that in 2003 we had gone to the finals and missed out.”

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Uthappa was the youngest member in the side and had just eight One-day Internationals to his name but the Karnataka batsman impressed during the limited-overs leg of the England tour in 2007, which earned him a spot in the inaugural World T20.

“When we lost in the first round, common sense… who would you cut?” Uthappa added.

“The youngest guy in the block. You just say now let’s get back to winning ways. But the selectors at that point reposed faith in me and continued to keep me in the side.

“Similarly, we went to the World T20 and we were a very young side. For me, I had confidence going my way from the fact that I had done well in Oval and won a game we were unlikely to win. We lost the game in Lord’s but I still did fairly well there.”

“Having said that, once we got to South Africa, we got to a place where we knew we were a very young side and we didn’t have the stalwarts of Indian cricket. We didn’t have Zak pa [Zaheer Khan], I think Munaf [Patel] wasn’t there and [Rahul] Dravid, Sachin [Tendulkar], and Dada [Sourav Ganguly].”

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India’s 2007 World T20 campaign got off to a wobbly start after a loss to New Zealand but gathered momentum with each game. Uthappa thinks that India’s bowl-out win against arch-rivals Pakistan in the group stages was the turning point.

“The fact that Yuvi [Yuvraj] was in fine form, Rohit [Sharma] played the way he played, DK [Dinesh Karthik] fielded the way he fielded,” Uthappa said.

“Even though DK wasn’t playing in a game, he took a one-handed blinder of Graeme Smith off RP Singh [against South Africa]. Gauti [Gautam Gambhir] played so well for the most part of the tournament,” the 34-year-old added.

“The bowl-out was a big part of bringing momentum into the side. It was an absolute team effort and everyone just lifted everybody up. Everyone had confidence in one another. It was such a healthy dressing room.

“For those three weeks, honest to God, there wasn’t a single thing that wasn’t even felt negatively forget being said negatively. Not even a single negative feeling in that whole campaign. So, I think we just built on that and really enjoyed each other’s company and each other’s success.”

Watch Uthappa’s chat with cricket commentator Arun Venugopal here: