NEW DELHI: Touted as one of the favourites for the ICC World Cup 2007 in West Indies, India suffered a shock exit from the tournament after suffering defeats at the hands of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The loss hurt the players so much so that Sachin Tendulkar was forced to think about retirement.
In an interview to Mid-day, Tendulkar revealed that the loss left him disheartened and he didn’t leave his hotel room in West Indies for two straight days as he contemplated whether to continue playing.
“We were in the West Indies for two days after we lost, but I didn’t leave my hotel room after we lost.” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by the Mid-day on Thursday. “I was in no mood to do anything. It was such a massive disappointment that I didn’t feel like doing anything in those two days. It was tough to get that out of your mind and move on to the next tournament.”
After opening the tournament with a stunning defeat to minnows Bangladesh, India recovered to post a big win against Bermuda but proved second best to Sri Lanka in their final group fixture to crash out of the world cup on March 23, 2007.
“I would call it (March 23, 2007) one of my worst days in cricket,” Tendulkar said. “When you feel you win and end up losing, you are bound to feel terrible. Like the Johannesburg Test (in 1997) when we had to get South Africa out but it rained, the Barbados Test (in 1997) when I was captain and the 1996 World Cup semi-final loss to Sri Lanka.
“There are such instances when you feel really terrible. The 2007 World Cup was obviously not good for us. The first blow was the loss to Bangladesh and then we lost to Sri Lanka. I never thought we would lose to Bangladesh. We were not over-confident, but you do feel confident about India beating Bangladesh. It was one of those uncertainties of the game.”
So what led to him abandoning the retirement thoughts? A call from his batting hero Viv Richards who reassured him that such moments are part and parcel of international cricket and that he still has a lot of cricket left in him.
“I was away when I got a call from Sir Viv Richards. He spoke to me for around 45 minutes — about the ups and downs in cricket. He stressed that I have plenty of cricket left in me and said, ‘You are not going to retire now.’ He had heard from a friend of ours that I was really depressed to a point that I was literally thinking of retiring. He told me that it’s only a matter of time that I get back so don’t take any decision now.
“It makes a huge difference when your batting hero calls you. I always looked up to him and Sunil Gavaskar. Sir Viv’s call to me was made at the right time and I got convinced. I then said to myself, ‘Okay, I’m going to abandon these thoughts and start practising again as soon as I return to Mumbai. My brother Ajit spoke to me about the 2011 World Cup, telling me that this trophy can be in my hands. That was the motivating factor and I started chasing my World Cup dream. I trained at 5:30 am and practised in the afternoons,” he remembers.
India buried the demons four years later in an emphatic fashion when they lifted the coveted trophy in front of home fans as they defeated Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium in 2011 final to become world champions in the 50-over format for the second time in their cricketing history.