The year 2007 will forever be etched in the history of Indian cricket that served as the precursor to a massive revolution when a certain MS Dhoni inspired a young team to title win at the inaugural ICC World T20 in South Africa despite not being among the favourites. The event saw India involved in several close contests that saw them twice beating the likes of Australia and Pakistan en route to the title.
2007 was also the year when India would face Australia on several occasions including the semifinals of the T20 World Cup which former India opener Robin Uthappa recalls ended up being pretty intense as players exchanged verbal volleys.
“The amount of sledging that happened in that game was incredible. I remember people having a go at me and at that time, when they had a go, very few people retaliated. Only Zak bhai (Zaheer Khan) was one of them and a few other fast bowlers. But none of the batsmen gave it back," Uthappa told stand-up comedian Sorabh Pant on his YouTube show Wake Up With Sorabh.
The sledging between both sets of players got pretty tense and Uthappa reveals one of such exchanges got to Mathew Hayden who then didn’t speak with the India cricketer for nearly three years.
“In that game, Gauti (Gautam Gambhir) gave it back. I gave it back to Andrew Symonds, Mitchell Johnson, Brad Haddin. The toughest one that I encountered in that game was Matthew Hayden. He inspired me as a person and batsman. In fact, my walking shot was picked out of him. I remember Haydos was batting and in that game, he was going at me and that is when I decided, ‘Ok, I’m going to give it back’. So when they came to bat, I was giving it. And it got to Haydos at a point, while he was batting," Uthappa said.
Uthappa, who played 46 ODIs and 13 T20Is between 2006 and 2015, said it hurt him that Hayden, a cricketer he looked up to, began giving him the cold shoulder.
“He said something to me which I’m not going to repeat and I said something back to him. He did not speak to me for 2-3 years. He would be very cold-shouldered to me. And it hurt. Because at that point, it was about winning. I wanted to win and make them feel as uncomfortable as possible, and I did that. We won but I missed out on interacting with someone who truly inspired me," Uthappa said.