And, despite not being a part of the T20 World Cup squad that lifted the trophy at Johannesburg, India legend Rahul Dravid, who led India in the 50-over World Cup that year, had a role to play in India’s triumph. The victory, under MS Dhoni, came with a young, inexperienced, but exuberant side.
Lalchand Rajput, the team manager of the 2007 T20 World Cup, revealed that Sachin Tendulkar was keen on playing the tournament. However, Dravid convinced both him and Sourav Ganguly, that youngsters would be better off in the T20 World Cup.
“Yes, it is true (Rahul Dravid persuaded Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly against playing the 2007 T20 World Cup). 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 because Sachin always kept on telling me that I am playing for so many years and I have still not won the World Cup,” Lalchand Rajput was quoted as telling Sportskeeda.
Speaking about Dhoni, whose journey to fame as captain began with the triumph at Johannesburg, Rajput added, “To be honest, he was very very calm. He used to think two steps ahead because a captain has to make a decision on the ground. One thing I liked about him was that he was a thinking captain.”
“He seemed to me like a mixture of Ganguly and Rahul Dravid. Ganguly was very very aggressive and thinking but was positive and thinking,” he stated.
India defeated Pakistan in a nail-biter of a final on September 24, 2007. Gautam Gambhir’s 75 led India to 157 for 5 batting first. Pakistan fell tantalisingly short, by 5 runs, as Misbah-ul-Haq’s scoop shot landed in Sreesanth’s hands. Irfan Pathan was the man of the final for his figures of 3 for 16.
--By A Cricket Correspondent