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It almost slipped out of my hands: Sreesanth

Tuesday, 18 September 2012 - 11:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
In a chat with Derek Abraham, the injured pacer says the ball had hit the fractured index finger on the right hand before he somehow salvaged the situation.

When the World Twenty20 was launched in 2007, the format was new to the players. How prepared was the team?
We had played a one-off game in South Africa. And if I remember correctly, Dinesh Karthik had won us that game. So we were the only team which went into the tournament with a 100 per cent win record (laughs). I was pretty comfortable with the format because I had captained Kerala in a South Zone tournament. But yes, no one in the Indian team had played more than five or six matches.

The team landed in South Africa after a fruitful tour of England (Rahul Dravid & Co had won the three-Test series 1-0, but lost 3-4 in the ODIs). The confidence level must have been high...
Yes, I was part of the Test team but was dropped for the seven-match ODI series (Sree was ‘disciplined’ for bowling a couple of beamers to rival skipper Michael Vaughan). But strangely enough, I was named in the World Twenty20 squad. Both teams were announced on the same day. I was hugely disappointed and the fact is that I am yet to play an ODI in England. Maybe I will, some day. I remember I went home, celebrated Onam and then went to South Africa and won the Cup (laughs).

How was the mood in the camp?
We had an amazing set of coaches. (Lalchand) Rajput sir, Venky sir (bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad) and Robin sir (fielding coach Robin Singh) were all very helpful. Even the manager, Mr Sunil Dev (Delhi and District Cricket Association official), was of great help. The team meetings were so much fun. We used to have dance sessions. There was no tension or fear. We just wanted to have fun.

The tournament was also MS Dhoni’s first assignment...
Yes, it was. We were a young side and our roles were well defined. It was a great team.

India’s opening match against Scotland was washed out. And then you met Pakistan...
I will never forget that bowl-out.

Your good friend Robin Uthappa had hit the stumps...
Robin never missed the stumps during training. In fact, he was the only one with a 100 per cent record. So it was decided that he would take part in the bowl-out if it were to happen. Again, credit must go to Venky sir.

That win certainly got the team going but what, according to you, was the turning point for India in the tournament?
It’s got to be the England match. I think Yuvi paaji’s six sixes gave us the belief that we could go all the way. I was padded up when he created history. In Twenty20, eveyone’s padded up. And we just went berserk. We started believing that no one could defeat us. I guess (Andrew) Flintoff said something unwanted to him and that motivated him. Poor Stuart Broad bore the brunt. Even the match against South Africa was a crucial one. They needed 114 to qualify and they didn’t even get there. Beating them in Durban was special. They rolled out a typical bowler-friendly wicket and killed themselves.

And then came the Aussies...
Oh yes, what a match!

You had dismissed Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden in that game. Both were clean bowled...
Pakistan had already qualified for the final (beating New Zealand) and just as we went out to defend 153, everyone was like, ‘We must enter the final no matter what’. And we were up against a side which had won three World Cups in a row. But we just did it.

Let’s talk about that catch you took in the final...
I am not sure if people know this, but I had fractured the index finger of my right hand ahead of that abandoned game against Scotland. Our physio, John Gloster, somehow taped my finger before every match. And I managed to play the whole tournament, so hats off to John!

The other person I want to tank is Robin sir. He always told us to anticipate. When Joginger Sharma ran in to bowl that ball, Pakistan were a hit away from victory. All I hoped for was that if the ball came my way, I wanted to stop it. But just as Misbah-ul-Haq played that scoop, I went blank. The replays make it seem like a simple catch. But in reality, I had to run about 10-12 yards towards the edge of the circle. Thanks again to Robin sir. I anticipated it. And check out the video once again and you’ll see that the ball hit my fractured finger and slipped out a little before I grabbed it with both hands. And then I just threw it up! The last thing we wanted was to lose to Pakistan in a final. And you know what, I still have that ball (laughs).

It must have been one big party that evening...
Yes, Shah Rukh Khan was there. It was one of the best evenings of my life.

So did anyone ask you about that catch?
There was an SMS joke doing the rounds. It read, ‘In every corner of the world, there is a Malayalee, but Misbah didn’t know it’. It felt good.

The team had a stopover in Dubai...
Dubai, well it’s better we call it ‘United States of Kerala’ (laughs). A lot of people greeted us at the airport.


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