India’s 2007 ICC World T20 win will remain among the most memorable victories in the country’s cricketing history. A young and rather inexperienced team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni who was captaining India for the first time won the trophy against all odds in Johannesburg.
The absence of stalwarts like Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had meant no one gave the Indian team a chance at the event in South Africa.
However, it was the then ODI captain Dravid who had convinced Tendulkar and Ganguly to not play in the competition and let youngsters have a go at it.
“Yes, it is true (Rahul Dravid asked Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to not play the 2007 T20 World Cup),” Lalchand Rajput the team manager of the side for the 2007 World T20 told Sportskeeda in an interaction in their Facebook page.
“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,” Rajput added.
“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,” he said.
Rajput recalled how the team thrived under the calm leadership of MS Dhoni as he managed to get the best out of the players.
“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 about things, but we need to focus on our strengths, and don’t have to worry about what others are saying,” he said.
“Indian team never had much match practice of T20I World Cup. We had only played one T20I match, the other team had played more matches. We were not well prepared, but that hunger was there. 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,” he added.
The Zimbabwean team coach felt Dhoni’s captaincy was a big factor in India’s triumph as he often managed to outwit his opposite number.
“He always thought two steps ahead,” Rajput said of Dhoni.
“I felt as a captain he was a mixture Dravid and Ganguly. He used to give his players a lot of confidence just like how Ganguly did and he also put a lot of thought in the game that was similar to Dravid,” Rajput said.
Dhoni went on to become one of the most successful captains in Indian cricket history as he added the 2011 ICC World Cup and 2013 ICC Champions Trophy to his cabinet. He also led India to the No 1 position in ICC rankings.
The win at the 2007 ICC World T20 proved to be a huge boost to Indian cricket that was reeling after the shock early exit in the 2007 ODI World Cup in West Indies.
Watch the full interview with Lalchand Rajput here: