It is vivid, every match, every winning moment. Twice, he was in the middle when the job was accomplished. For Yuvraj Singh, it was the culmination of a dream that he had nurtured from the time he gave up his love for roller-skating and took up cricket.
The 2011 World Cup triumph may have had many stars. At different stages, individuals stepped up to leave their mark in this team game. But Yuvraj was the superstar of the tournament. He made runs, took wickets, and all this when suffering from the dreadful ailment which was to hit him hard later.
For Yuvraj, all those interactions with the 1983 World Cup hero, Kapil Dev, guided him during the course of the tournament. “Kapil paaji is everyone’s inspiration,” Yuvraj remembered.
“God has been very kind to me. I lived my dream twice – in 2007 and then four years later. There is so much to cherish. So much to share. It was a privilege to be part of two World Cup wins. I feel happy that I was able to contribute too. We had two great teams.”
The 2007 triumph was a momentous phase of Yuvraj’s career. The six sixes in an over off Stuart Broad put him in the exalted company of Garfield Sobers and it also evoked an unprecedented surge of admirers.
“Those six sixes in an over brought a different kind of joy to the people,” remembered Yuvraj. Time and again, his young fans take him on a memory trip, with description in details of each shot.
Yuvraj made a stellar contribution in the 2011 win. The decision to ask Yuvraj to bowl was a masterstroke by the team management.
The team was convinced that Yuvraj’s left-arm spin was as crucial as his majestic batting in the middle overs because of his ability to pick the good deliveries and convert them into scoring opportunities.
“I enjoyed playing a hand as a bowler when I was not able to contribute runs,” Yuvraj said.
In the semifinal against Pakistan, he struck in successive overs. He bowled the dangerous-looking Asad Shafiq in the 24th over and then the prize wicket of Younis Khan in his next.
In the final too, wickets of Kumara Sangakkara and Thilan Samaraweera were his awesome contributions to stop Sri Lanka from putting up a large total.
It helped India that he smashed 113 against the West Indies in the league but his unbeaten 57 against Australia was the decisive performance.
“I was happy to perform under pressure in that match.” Remembering the tournament, Yuvraj was happy he aggregated 362 runs but he was particularly pleased with his ability to strike with the ball as he finished with 15 wickets. “To do that in a World Cup was a dream come true really.”
The winning hit by Dhoni, a six to signal the victory, was icing on the cake for Indian’s campaign. “Winning in style is always special. Often we cherish the winning hit. To send the ball into the stands saw us reach the target in style. I was happy to be at the crease to savour it,” said Yuvraj.
Life has revolved around cricket for Yuvraj since that epic day at the Wankhede Stadium. The retirement came because he had decided to “move on.”
Support from mother Shabnam and wife Hazel ensured that he overcame the sadness of not being considered despite clearing the fitness task that was demanded of him.
But he took it in his stride. He relives those triumphs once in a while and as he told this reporter, “I want to travel, take vacations when I want. And help people fight cancer.”
As cricket fans celebrate the 10th anniversary of that glorious chapter in India’s cricket history, Yuvraj will spend the day quietly at home in Mumbai, viewing recordings of the 2011 World Cup. It was India’s World Cup. It was also Yuvraj Singh’s World Cup.
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