Wednesday, April 6, 2011

I knew no force on earth could stop me: Yuvraj

NEW DELHI: The aura of Yuvraj Singh has grown even bigger after the World Cup. The Man of the Tournament not only proved his critics wrong in telling fashion, he also emerged as a mature and multi-talented player on whom India can rely on without hesitation. He spoke to TOI at length on Tuesday. Excerpts from the interview: 

How did the change come around? 

I was hitting the ball well and got a fifty in South Africa and had scored a couple of 40s against the New Zealand side at home. The only thing is that I was not getting those big scores. But I kept working on my game and didn't lose heart. I know if I can continue to hit the ball well, there is no force on earth that can stop me from getting there. I am glad it happened right here. 

Last year must have been quite painful... 

I was struggling with a series of injuries. I came back fresh just before last year's IPL and was struggling to strike form. I couldn't score in four matches and then all the talk about under-performing started. Everyone questioned my attitude and said that I was under-performing because I was not the captain of Kings XI. That kind of stuff is not appreciated. After we lost the last Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies, some of the cricketers had a quarrel with some fans. Thereafter, I was dropped from the Indian team from both Tests and One-dayers. It was really a nightmare. But close people like my mother, my Guruji and my father ensured that I kept fighting the odds. 

How did Sachin help you? 

During my bad phase, I was in constant touch with Sachin. He kept citing his experiences when he was injured and the way he came back to form. His mere presence was inspiring and so were his stories. In that phase, Sachin helped me to regain the self-confidence. He kept telling me how he has a lot of faith on my ability and how I can do it for India. 

Was there anything wrong with the batting? 

Coach Gary Kirsten and Sachin kept telling me that there was nothing wrong and that I needed just one game to turn it around. So, from my side, there was no dearth of effort. I am glad that I was able to strike the ball well from the very second match of the World Cup. 

People are saying that you a lot more matured now? 

I have been playing international cricket for a while and it's my job to use all my experience to good use. This is not the first time I have performed for India. For me, the timing was perfect. 

What did you do to improve your concentration? 

To start with, I had to lose a few kilos after getting back from injury. I do yoga regularly and that has helped a lot to improve concentration. 

Was it a problem batting after Virat Kohli? 

I can bat anywhere in the team. But Virat's batting style is not well suited for number six and seven. He came to this World Cup in very good form and was batting like the champion. 

Are you disappointed when skipper MS Dhoni went into bat ahead of you? 

This is the decision of the captain and the coach. I can't comment much. If the team wants me to bat up the order, I am willing to do that and if I am asked tomorrow to bat lower down the order, I am equally happy to do it for the team. 

What is next for Yuvraj Singh? 

I want to carry my World Cup form into the IPL. I have been batting well and bowled quite decently. And it's quite inspiring to lead an IPL team, Pune Warriors. Hope we do something special there. We have a good team, but injuries to two key players in the team - Ashish Nehra and Angelo Mathews - are a big blow. But I am confident that the rest of the squad will respond to the challenge. Actually, in IPL you can't predict what can happen. It's a tough format and competition is tough. 

What will be Team India's challenge now? 

For us, it's important not to get carried away by the World Cup win. The country ad the team needed this Cup. Now, we have to be consistent. 

You must be very tired... 

Last few months have been really hectic for all of us. We were under strict discipline and there was so much pressure to perform. More than a billion people were pinning their hopes on us and we had nothing in our minds except winning. It was both mentally and physically challenging, but we still had the belief that we can do it. And when that moment, none of us could hold our tears. It all came out spontaneously. 

Shahid Afridi has said that Indians don't have large hearts like Pakistanis. Your thoughts? 

It's true that Pakistanis have a large heart. Or how would you explain their generous gesture of dropping so many catches during the India-Pak semis. The outcome of this World Cup could have been different had it not been for their largesse!

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