As India prepare to host their first ICC World Twenty20, it’s only natural that Lalchand Rajput’s thoughts would fly back to the couple of weeks in 2007, which changed the face of world cricket, turning the T20 format into a phenomenon. He witnessed it firsthand from the India team dugout as their coach-manager.
It was the tournament in which MS Dhoni took his first step as captain, Yuvraj Singh was the star of the show, Rohit Sharma had arrived on the international scene and Harbhajan Singh was in his prime. All four are in the India team, which is looking to make history. The only time India came close to winning since was in the 2014 edition, where they lost in the final.
“Most of the players were fighting for a place in the India team and were hungry to perform,” said Rajput, discussing the motivation factor in the sensational 2007 win.
It was indeed remarkable that India got its strategy right for the format, for no one knew what to expect and how to plan for the games. “It was a young team, full of energy and Dhoni was captain for the first time and eager to make an impact,” remembers the former India opener.
Rajput was also present at the Asia Cup, which ended last week in Bangladesh, as member of the tournament’s technical committee and liked what he saw about the Indian team. “That team had no experience, these boys now have eight years of IPL experience; they are well-versed in every nuance of the game and know how to react to each situation. This is a strong and settled team. We are the favourites,” declared Rajput.
“India has tremendous batting depth and the concern over death bowling is also over because of Jasprit Bumrah and Ashish Nehra.”
Adding a note of caution, the 2007-winning coach asked the team to be on its toes all the time. “We are in a tough group and it is a format where one over, one batsman or one bowler can take the game away.”