Robin Uthappa: A tribute to team spirit

"To be honest, all of us were finding our way in Twenty20 but we were not overawed. Yes, it was a World Cup, but it was also a format that was fresh to us and we quickly learnt to adapt and cope. Most importantly, we enjoyed our time in the middle."

Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his boys are up in celebration after vanquishing Pakistan in the final of the 2007 World Twenty20.   -  Getty Images

When we set foot in South Africa for the inaugural World Twenty20, the mood within the camp was certainly upbeat. We were all new to the format, we didn’t know what we were in for, but one thing we made certain: take one game at a time.

We were a young bunch. We also had seniors like M. S. Dhoni, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Harbhajan Singh, Yuvraj Singh and Ajit Agarkar, and all of us collectively backed each other. We relished the success of each other and also backed each other when things weren’t going our way.

 

M. S. (Dhoni) and the other seniors were very giving in their attitude and that helped us juniors to enjoy the game. Captain Dhoni did not let the pressure affect us, he was very clear in his views and he backed us to do well. He gave us opportunities to express ourselves.

To be honest, all of us were finding our way in Twenty20 but we were not overawed. Yes, it was a World Cup, but it was also a format that was fresh to us and we quickly learnt to adapt and cope. Most importantly, we enjoyed our time in the middle.

My personal favourite when it comes to my performance was the 50 I scored against Pakistan in a league game in Durban. I walked in at three, and we lost two more wickets and then I batted well. I was happy with the manner in which I contributed to the team, though, there is more emphasis on the bowl-out I participated in, and we won. I was also happy with the catch and run-out I effected in the final against Pakistan. All those contributions are memories that I cherish.

Going into the final against Pakistan in Johannesburg, we didn’t feel any extra pressure. I mean, for most of us it was our first World Cup final and it was like ‘so this is how it feels in a big final’, and then it was time to get on with the game. Even when we won, it really didn’t sink in.

It registered eventually and that’s after we returned. I mean we understood the enormity of what we achieved only when we went on that cavalcade in Mumbai on arrival. The crowd was simply amazing. At that point I realised that we had done something special.

After all these years, when I look back, the thing that remains with me is the lesson about what we can achieve when we back each other. All the players and the support-staff backed each other and our success was a tribute to team spirit. It is an important fact I learnt and obviously, the camaraderie we shared was something special. We just took one game at a time, and when it all fell in place, it felt great.

(As told to K. C. Vijaya Kumar)