World Cup 2019: 'It was a dream', Yuvraj reminisces 2011 triumph

Yuvraj Singh had won the World Cup for India after unsuccessful attempts in 2003 and 2007 and it was a kind of “nirvana” for the celebrated cricketer who initially wanted to be a champion at roller skating.

Goal that mattered: The dream of winning the World Cup was the driving force of his life, says Yuvraj Singh.   -  Vijay Lokapally

He was fighting the opponents, and himself too, in a silent campaign to live a dream. Something was happening to his body. “Not to the spirit,” Yuvraj Singh was to recount later, glancing at the picture in his drawing room of holding the World Cup, rejoicing with the team after the 2011 triumph at Mumbai.

He had won the Cup for India after unsuccessful attempts in 2003 and 2007 and it was a kind of “nirvana” for the celebrated cricketer who initially wanted to be a champion at roller skating. He has a pair still tucked away in an attic.

READ: Yuvraj's stroke of genius against Australia

Yuvraj was a toddler when Kapil Dev's team was making history in 1983 at the World Cup. “He hailed from Chandigarh and was a hero to us. I grew up listening to inspiring tales of Kapil paaji,” said the left-hander, who was ‘Man of the Series’ when India regained the Cup in 2011.

He aggregated 362 runs and, importantly, claimed 15 wickets. Yuvraj's bowling, experts insisted, was the key element in India's win. His tally of wickets was far more than some of the established bowlers in the team.

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Yuvraj Singh hit the winning runs for India in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinal match against Australia in Ahmedabad.   -  AFP

 

“The decision to bowl was important,” Yuvraj observed. It had to be important. It helped the team gain a bowler who could strike a restrictive line and length and also make far-reaching breakthroughs. Yuvraj bowled 75 overs in nine matches – with five for 31 in 10 overs against Ireland as his best.

He also bowled his full quota in the knockout matches against Australia, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. As batsman, his 113 against West Indies had come at a critical stage.

“It was a dream. I had a medical condition to deal with. I would feel breathless and cough constantly. But the dream of winning the Cup was the driving force of my life,” Yuvraj must have repeated these lines countless times. No wonder, Sachin Tendulkar described Yuvraj aptly in the message for his autobiography, calling him ‘Pure Inspiration.’ 

In his heart, Yuvraj has “reverence” for Tendulkar, who he describes as “simply amazing.”

Yuvraj Singh embraces Mahendra Singh Dhoni after he scores the winning runs in the 2011 World Cup final.   -  K.R. Deepak

 

The impact that Yuvraj made on the 2011 World Cup was the result of some rigorous preparation that helped him play every match of the tournament. The circumstances were compelling and demanded him to be performing consistently. He did not let down his team, bowled with his heart, batted with a calm mind, emerging the decisive factor on the field. His absence, in hindsight, may have proved catastrophic for Indian cricket.

READ: England and India are favourites to win

Yuvraj came into the 2011 World Cup with an experience of 265 ODIs but his career lasted another 30 one-day matches after the tournament was over. His last ODI appearance for India came in June 2017 in the West Indies as national selectors looked beyond this fine all-rounder, who trudged the course of domestic cricket for two years in vain, waiting for an opportunity to showcase his fitness and utility amidst rising competition.

In ‘The Test of My Life’, where he writes of his journey from cricket to cancer and back, Yuvraj shares his philosophy to “Never give up.” As he wishes Virat Kohli and his team “success” at the World Cup, Yuvraj devotes most time to his life's new mission – YouWeCan, the foundation established to fight cancer and spread awareness about the disease.