Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar revealed he was so heartbroken by India’s first round exit in 2007 World Cup that he thought of retiring from cricket.
India, including Tendulkar, fared miserably against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the group stage of the One-Day International (ODI) World Cup, held in the West Indies. They managed only a win in the group stage, against minnows Bermuda, to crash out of the tournament.
The “Master Blaster” faced severe criticism for scoring seven and a duck in the crucial matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, respectively.
In an interview, Tendulkar said he had come close to retiring from cricket in 2007 but was persuaded against it by his elder brother Ajit.
His brother told him to continue playing to achieve his dream of winning the World Cup in 2011 in India.
“I still remember (after) 2007 (World Cup) when I came back home, I was so depressed and so upset with the way we had performed. I actually thought of retiring then. I called my brother over, Ajit, and told him that I do not want to continue,” Tendulkar said.
“The game has been cruel to us and I want to stop. That was when he said, ‘can you imagine in 2011 you are here at Wankhede stadium holding that beautiful trophy. That is when you should think of retiring’. That conversation really helped and it motivated me to go out and play with a purpose,” the Mumbai-born cricketer said.
Four years later, India managed to beat Sri Lanka in the final in Mumbai to realise Tendulkar’s dream.
The 41-year-old, who scored 100 international hundreds in a career spanning 24 years, admitted he was superstitious throughout the tournament, stopping himself as well as his opening partner Virender Sehwag from stepping out of the dressing room during matches.
He also barred himself from watching television during the final as, “one can make out what is happening in the stadium by the crowds response”.
“I did cry when I went out in the middle after the victory. I did cry. This was the only time I had happy tears. Because that moment was just a priceless moment. That moment was something that you can only dream off.”
Giving credit to the entire team for a solid performance in the World Cup 2011, the batting maestro said: “Ashish Nehra, Munaf Patel, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, they were all fired up for the tournament,” he said.
The former batsman recalled how the Indian team had progressed since their disastrous 2007 World Cup campaign to becoming the World No.1 team in Tests.
“We had started playing really good cricket and wanted to take that momentum into the World Cup and we finished really well,” the Rajya Sabha member said.
Talking about matches against Pakistan, Tendulkar admitted playing the traditional put additional pressure on the team.
“It is a different atmosphere altogether. A game with Pakistan is not about pressure only on that day.
In 2003, when we had to play Pakistan at Centurion, my friends had started talking about it a good 10 months ago. And they wanted us to win that match. Of course, we do not think that way.”
Recalling his fondest Cup memory, Tendulkar said nothing came close to that moment when he lifted the World Cup in his hands.
“It was not my trophy, it was our trophy, it was the nation’s trophy,” he concluded.