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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Sachin Tendulkar believed in me: Yuvraj Singh

Yuvraj Singh

Call him Man of the Tournament, Man of the Moment or whatever you want and Yuvraj Singh won’t mind. He tells DNA that Tendulkar’s encouraging words inspired his turnaround.

We saw a vintage Yuvraj Singh after the match. You were cracking jokes and living the moment...
Enjoying the post-match press conference had nothing to do with my on-field performance. I have had this sense of humour for a long time, whether things are going right or not. Everyone knows that I am very open in life. I am what I am.

At what point during your comeback did you feel you were getting back there?
The series against New Zealand was when I started to get in to the groove. I had scored a fifty against Australia (at Vizag) earlier and then one against New Zealand. And I was getting wickets too. But they were not big scores. So I knew I had to continue doing the right things.

Shahid Afridi has said that Indians don’t have a big heart…
(Laughs) Honestly, they have a bigger heart. No wonder they dropped so many catches while playing against us.

Model Poonam Pandey had said she wanted to strip for the victorious Indian team…
I heard her name for the first time at the post-match conference after the final. I was like, ‘Who is this’. I was then chasing Mahi (Dhoni), asking him if he had an extra-marital affair with her (laughs)! But honestly, I don’t know what to say about such things.

We were not reading newspapers. We were asked to switch off completely. It was very tough to do that, especially with the World Cup happening at home. The criticism and expectation levels hit a new high when you read. It was mentally and physically tough.

What was the team talk before the final chase?
Chasing 275 was always big. But coming in to this game, we had two very tough games. Our plan was to come out and try and bat 50 overs. The idea was to keep the required run-rate around six per over. Even when Gautam (Gambhir) and MS (Dhoni) were going well, the run rate did touch 6.5, but they maintained it. Finally, we finished off the game in the powerplay. Over and above, we handled the pressure very well.

Your dedication to Sachin is now well-documented. How would you elucidate his role in your comeback?
He was always around. During my tough times, he told me to keep up the spirit. He said ‘You don’t know what is there in the box for you in future. You may be working hard, but work harder’. Sachin also told me that he believed in me and knew I’d deliver at the right time.

What were your first words to MSD after winning?
There were no words. Just hugging and screaming and crying in happiness.

India are world champions and also No 1 in Tests. Do you think India will have to dominate to maintain their status?
We don’t know about domination. But for now, a dream has come true. We wanted to win desperately. Now that we are world champions, we have to maintain the good work.

You said Gary Kirsten was like a father figure to you. How would you describe his role?
He deserves a lot more credit than what he gets. He kept the team united. He took the reigns of the team when we were going through some really tough times. But he also has a family and wants to spend time with them. He has got bright kids and a nice wife. The Kirsten family has sacrificed a lot for the Indian team. Gary’s wife has brought up the kids all by herself, and it isn’t easy. In fact, we (Sachin and I) were kidding about getting him a dual passport and not let him go.

He has made a big difference in your batting…
When things are not working, you need to understand the whys and wheres of the situation. That’s where Gary exactly helped me and that’s why we have coaches. Coaches are supposed to get the best out of you.

World T20 title, No 1 in Tests, 50-over World Cup... Are you ready to get married?
(Laughs) What is the connection here? So what if I have won all this. I am relishing the moment. Why are you hell-bent to take away all the happiness? But honestly, I am waiting for the right girl. I am not able to find her.

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