Dubai: Legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar considers the early exit of the Indian team from 2007 cricket World Cup as one of the worst moments of his illustrious career and says the disappointment in the West Indies served as a boost to prove critics wrong four years later.
"The most forgettable ICC Cricket World Cup for me has to be 2007 edition in the West Indies. The early exit from the tournament ranks among the worst moments of my cricketing career," Tendulkar said in a column he wrote for the ICC in the run up to the 2015 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
"We had a fantastic team but it was not to be! My pursuit to be a part of the World Cup winning team continued. The disappointment in the tournament served as a boost to prove many naysayers wrong," he added.
Tendulkar, who is also an ICC ambassador for the 2015 World Cup, said winning the 2011 edition at home was the highest point of his career. "In defeating top sides like Australia, Pakistan and eventually overcoming Sri Lanka in the final, India emerged as the first nation to win the World Cup on home soil. It was even more special as I had finally been part of World Cup winning team after 22 years of pursuit. The victory in 2011 was the highest point of my career as a nation unified in its celebrations," the iconic cricketer, who participated in record six World Cup editions, said.
Tendulkar, who retired last year on a pile of runs and records, recounted his journey from a World Cup 'ball-boy' to a World Cup winner.
"On June 25, 1983, India cricket team won the ICC Cricket World Cup 1983 and images of the team holding the trophy were inspirational for the entire nation. I was just 10 years of age and have fond memories of that victory. My parents allowed me to celebrate the victory till late in night. I was also inspired to take up playing the game with the season (hard) ball after the World Cup victory," Tendulkar, who played 45 World Cup matches scoring 2278 runs, said.
"My first 'live' piece of World Cup action was during the 1987 ICC Cricket World Cup, which was co-hosted by India and Pakistan. I was fortunate to be among the volunteers to be picked as a ball boy for the matches played in Mumbai. As I stood there watching Indian greats on the field, I kept telling myself that I need to be a part of action in the middle," he added.
Another World Cup incident which rankled Tendulkar's mind for long a time was his dismissal in the semifinal against Sri Lanka in 1996.
"The ICC Cricket World Cup 1996 was special as it was jointly hosted in India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. My dismissal in the semi-final against Sri Lanka rankled me for a long time as it was the start of a batting collapse, which brought an end to the India campaign," said Tendulkar who made his maiden World Cup appearance against England in Perth in 1992.
"I scored my first century in an ICC Cricket World Cup during this tournament and also scored another one against Sri Lanka, the eventual champion, during the league stage. The highs experienced during the league stage came crashing down and we were left to enjoy the brilliant batting of Aravinda de Silva, whose partnership with Arjuna
Ranatunga on television set as Sri Lanka won its first World Cup defeating Australia," said the 41-year-old cricket icon. He said the 1999 edition in England was a difficult tournament for him personally as he had to cope with the loss of his father in the midst of the tournament.
"It was very difficult as I tried to focus on the game inspite of my grief," Tendulkar said. He said the Indian team of 2003 World Cup in South Africa was probably "a little too charged up" as it suffered a big defeat at the hands of the Australians in the final.
"The ICC Cricket World Cup 2003 was the closest I had come, till then, to lift the coveted trophy. The entire team had been playing well and we were extremely charged up to take on Australia in the final. A little too charged up, as we realised, as we lost losing the final by a big margin!
"I had a memorable tournament scoring 673 runs in 11 matches - the most by any batsman in a single World Cup. The player of the tournament award I received was little consolation for ending up as the second best side," Tendulkar said.